By Ryan Palencer Flyer correspondent
---- — The Ben Davis Giants football team is up against a brutal schedule this season, but with the experience the Giants return, they should be up to the task.
Returning more players with varsity playing time than normal has Ben Davis coach Mike Kirschner excited about the 2013 campaign.
“Last year, it was really kind of an anomaly for us,” Kirschner said. “We were not senior loaded by any means. We only had two seniors on offense and three or four on defense.”
Where the Giants only had 23 seniors last year, this season they have 53. Kirschner also noted Ben Davis has a very strong junior class.
Returning 17 starters from a team that only lost one regular season game last year leaves the Giants with high aspirations.
“Our expectations are pretty high, as they always are,” Kirschner said. “We never expect anything less than being the best. That’s just kind of the nature of the program.”
Kirschner credits the experience with pushing the practices “farther ahead this year than we ever were last year.”
Ben Davis opens with Cathedral Aug. 23 at Lucas Oil Stadium and that’s just the beginning of the loaded schedule for the Giants.
“It does (prepare us for the postseason),” Kirschner said. “The concern, along with everyone else in our conference, you just worry about getting physically beat up. A big program like ours, you like to think has the depth to carry you through. We already have kids dinged up and not practicing. You just hope to get better and develop the young kids because down the road, you’re going to need them.”
As far as team leaders, Kirschner said everything begins with the signal caller, junior quarterback Kyle Castner.
“On the offensive side, you have to start with (Castner), who started last year as a sophomore and threw for a couple thousand yards,” Kirschner said. “He’s 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. He’s a very talented and intelligent young man. He’s eighth in his class of 1,200.”
Returning on the outside for Castner to hook up with are seniors Michael Beaty and Sean Boswell, who tallied 42 catches and 36 catches last season, respectively.
In addition, Ben Davis returns junior tight end Justin Brandon.
“(Brandon) was fifth in the state in the discus this last spring,” Kirschner said. “He threw the discus 175 feet. He’s a very powerful, explosive young man.”
One the defensive side, the Giants look to Albert Williams up front. They also return both corners — Tony Allen and Oshea Heard.
Defensive tackle Tre Harney, who started every game last year, also returns. In addition, the Giants have a lot of other returning depth on defense.
“Both of our outside linebackers are back,” Kirschner said. “We moved one of our outside linebackers, who was a starter, to free safety because we played three outside linebackers and really all three are full-time starters.”
Kirschner said the talent on his team has him anticipating the opening kickoff.
“We’re excited and we have to stay healthy,” he said. “Our team goals are always the same. The first is to win the conference, which our conference is very tough to do. We won it last year, which was the first time that we’ve won it in about nine years. Then we want to win the state championship. Anything less, it’s not that you’re not successful, we were 8-1 last year, and that’s a successful season by anybody’s standards, but we were short of what we want to be. We go into the offseason wanting more.”