This isn't the way anyone hopes to start a coaching career. But Sean Benjamin is 0-1 before he ever coached a game.
Benjamin is in his first season as the football coach at Geibel Catholic, a small private school in Connellsville. But Geibel has been forced to forfeit its first game at Frazier because Geibel doesn't have enough players to field a team.
Geibel had only 15 players when preseason practice started a few weeks ago, but injuries have left the Gators with only 10 players. Thus, the school informed Frazier and the WPIAL that it would have to forfeit.
"We have enough kids to have a team, but too many of them are hurt," said Geibel principal Don Favero. "We thought we might have to lose our season, but [WPIAL executive director] Tim O'Malley has permitted us to go week to week. I'm not even certain if we can play the next game, but we're hopeful we'll be able to play in the third week."
The forfeit is an example of the problems some small schools now have in trying to field a football team. Geibel has 154 students in grades 7 through 12. Last year's team had 23 players on its roster, but 14 were seniors. Last year's graduating class had 42 students.
"We try to have extensive programming for our students," Favero said. "Besides football, we also have varsity soccer and golf for boys in the fall. We have excellent programming here, but when you have a smaller number of students, sometimes things like this happen. We're very disappointed this happened, but don't want to drop the program. That's why we're so grateful the WPIAL can let us go week to week."
But Favero went on to say that he doesn't feel football appeals to kids as much as it used to decades ago.
"I grew up in Leechburg and played for Frank Cignetti Sr., and football is just not as important as it used to be," Favero said. "But some of these kids are still passionate about it. It's still their sport."
Geibel was 1-8 last season. The program has struggled for the past couple decades. The Gators didn't win more than one game in a season from 1997 through 2007. But they had a slight resurgence from 2009-11, winning three games each season.