Seizing his chance and running with it
Connor Benjamin was one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the state during his junior and senior seasons at Goffstown High. Jim Schubert is hoping he'll be just as dangerous as a running back in the CHaD East-West All-Star Game Saturday at the University of New Hampshire (1 p.m.)
Schubert, who will coach the West in the CHaD East-West All-Star Game, will use Benjamin as a tailback Saturday, when the West faces the East at the University of New Hampshire (1 p.m.).
"I had the kids fill out questionnaires about what position they played in high school and what position they would like to play in this game," Schubert explained. "He told me he wanted to play tailback."
Benjamin, who's listed at 5-foot-11, and 215 pounds, is a cocktail of speed, power and elusiveness. He rushed ran for 1,660 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, when he also threw for 1,342 yards and 15 TDs. He helped the Grizzlies reach the Division III championship game, where Goffstown lost to Portsmouth.
Benjamin was a running back until he was junior in high school, when Justin Hufft took over as Goffstown's head coach. Hufft installed the spread offense and moved Benjamin to quarterback.
"We needed that dual threat that he could give us," Huftt said. "He's a tremendous runner, but he also had the arm for what we needed to do."
The CHaD game features recently graduated seniors from throughout the state and raises money for Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. The first game was played last summer, when the West beat the East, 44-12.
"The spread was fun to run, but I always loved running back a lot more," Benjamin said. "Basically we didn't have anyone else who had played quarterback. It worked out I guess. In the spread I was basically a running back, which was good because I like running the ball a lot more than I like passing it.
"I told Coach Schubert I'd prefer to play tailback. That's where I thought I'd fit in better."
Benjamin, who also played varsity baseball at Goffstown, said he plans to play baseball for Keene State next season. He had an opportunity to walk on with the UNH football program, but didn't get admitted to the school.
"I struggled in school my first couple years and tried to make up for it these last two years," Benjamin said. "I applied to some bigger schools (to play football), but unfortunately didn't get in. I'm going to try to get really good grades my first year (in college) and hopefully that will open up some opportunities for me."
Hufft said Benjamin could play running back or receiver at the college level.
"He has great hands," Hufft said. "He's just a great athlete."
Benjamin missed about half of the varsity baseball season this year because of a hamstring injury. He's also been playing with a sore knee that he said may require surgery.
"It's not a big issue, but it's an issue I worry about sometimes," Benjamin said. "I really don't want to injure my body any more than I need to."
Benjamin was also selected represent New Hampshire against Vermont in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, which will be played at Dartmouth College in August. "This is possibly one of the last football games I'll play in," Benjamin said. "To be selected to this game is an honor.
"I've been having a lot of fun at tailback. It's all coming back to me the way it used to be."