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Southern 18 Mike Gesicki advances a catch during the first half. Friday November 11 2011 Triton at Southern Regional Football playoff. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)

Ben Fogletto

Mike Gesicki will probably line up at quarterback when the Southern Regional High School football team opens the season at Freehold Township on Friday.

Gesicki was supposed to play wide receiver but injuries forced his move to quarterback. It’s been that kind of offseason for the Rams.

Southern returned seven starters on offense and five on defense from a team that finished 8-2 and won the A South title last season.

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But a few of those returning starters are injured. Wide receiver Kevin Barreau tore knee ligaments in the spring running track and just underwent surgery. There is no set date for his return.

Barreau averaged 18.4 yards per catch last season.

Running back Richie Weisz broke his ankle in a seven-on-seven competition in July. Southern coach Chuck Donohue said Weisz will probably miss the first four games.

Quarterback Dan Higgins separated his shoulder in a preseason scrimmage and will miss the first few games of the season.

“The (injuries) have really changed what we thought we were going to be,” Donohue said. “You just keep going through it and hope you don’t lose any more kids. We’ll figure it out. We have tough kids. It’s just been frustrating.”

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Gesicki is one of the region’s top athletes. He played quarterback growing up. Rutgers University offered the junior, who excelled at wide receiver last season. a scholarship this summer.

Southern wanted Gesicki to touch the ball as much as possible at wide receiver. Until Higgins recovers, Gesicki will handle the ball on nearly every offensive play.

“Mike’s an athlete,” Donohue said. “He can throw the ball. He’s a competitor. He’ll get it done. It’s just a question of getting him some (practice) reps.”

The injuries will give several Rams more playing opportunities.

Senior Abe Gonzalez steps in at running back along with junior Rob Yaiser. Nick Hem will be one of the Rams top receivers.

Southern is healthy on the offensive line. The Rams also will rely on their defense until their skill position players recover. Lineman Ryan Boyle and linebackers Nick Munafo and Anthony Speziale spark the defense. Hem is a standout at cornerback.

Despite the injuries, Donohue remains confident in his team.

“We’ll ready (for the season),” he said. “I don’t doubt that.”

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