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Young River Ridge gearing up for Gators

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Wed. August 28, 2013 | Matt Baker | Email

River Ridge coach Ryan Benjamin was impressed by his team’s week of practice last week and looked forward to seeing their fall debut in a preseason classic at Hernando.

So when the threat of rain canceled the contest, Benjamin wasn’t sure what to expect.

After two days of practice this week, Benjamin said his players simply shifted their focus and carried over that intensity to prepare for Friday’s season opener at Land O’Lakes.

“If anything, it probably fueled the fire a little bit in our stomachs,” Benjamin said. “They’re really itching to play and show what they can do.”

And Benjamin is itching to see how his young team can perform. The Royal Knights could start as many as eight sophomores in Week 1.

Some of them are proven commodities. RB/LB Chris Schwarz had a strong spring game and has already emerged as a team leader. Others, like TE/LB Brandon Lempfert, RB/LB Patrick Cook and RB/LB Anthony Spinelli are still trying to adjust to their first tastes of varsity football.

Benjamin said his team’s youth movement starts even earlier. He’s expecting a strong showing from freshman Joel Hernandez, a 5-foot-8, 190-pound workhorse at linebacker.

“If he continues to have a great work ethic and do all the right things, this is a kid that’s gonna be a pretty darn good football player,” Benjamin said.

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