When the St. John’s football team broke into first and second teams Tuesday afternoon, sophomore Nick Martin was running the first-team offense.
“As of today, Nick’s our starting quarterback,” Johnnies coach Gary Fasching said. “But we really feel like we have two great quarterbacks on this team. (Senior) Connor Bruns is a great quarterback too and he needs to be ready because there are going to be times he gets thrown into the game.
“As coaches, we think we have two all-conference quarterbacks on the roster. They’re both very, very good and we’re going to need both of them throughout the course of the year.”
Martin and Bruns had been competing for the starting job with the Johnnies, who open the 2013 season at Wisconsin-River Falls at 7 p.m. on Sept. 6.
Both saw extensive playing time last season. Bruns began the year as the starting quarterback, but separated his right throwing shoulder in a loss at Concordia in the fourth game. Martin took his place and started the next five games before suffering a high-ankle sprain against Hamline in the second-to-last game of the year.
Bruns then returned to start a season-closing loss at Bethel.
“For me, it was just a sigh of relief,” said Martin of Tuesday’s news. “Connor and I have both had great camps and I know it was a tough decision for the coaches. I’m just glad to be able to have this opportunity.”
For his part, Bruns said he will continue to work just as hard as he has been in practice.
“It was the coaches’ decision and I have to accept it,” Bruns said. “I’m going to keep working hard every day and do the best I can. You never know what can happen over the course of a season and I have to stay ready.
“It’s a team game and we all want what’s best for the team.”
And Fasching said he is counting on Bruns to keep pushing Martin.
“No doubt,” Fasching said. “As of today, this is how it stands. Now Nick has to keep the job. And I know Connor will push him. It’s the same with everybody on our starting teams. Today, it’s their spot. But they have to keep it with their play on the field.”
Fasching said the coaching staff wanted to get the first and second teams established now so the team can begin getting ready in earnest for the season opener.
“We have to start getting those guys more reps,” Fasching said. “Counting (Tuesday), we have just eight practices left. So we’re in full game prep mode right now.”
In other news:
* Senior defensive lineman Nate Blenker sat out Tuesday’s practice with a swollen foot. He said he hopes to be back Wednesday. Sophomore wide receiver Josh Bungum was sitting out resting a pulled quad muscle. And sophomore running back Peter Vakulskas was out with a sore knee.
* Fasching said it appears that sophomore guard Ben Kuhr – who was attempting to come back after a season-ending torn ACL last year – will not be able to play this season. Kuhr began practice, but has been sitting out after experiencing a setback.
* Senior Pete Schwarz, who started at tackle last season, was playing guard with the second-team offense Tuesday. But Fasching said he could play at either tackle or guard.
“Unfortunately, it looks like Ben Kuhr is not going to be able to play this season, which we feel horrible about,” Fasching said. “So Pete may be a guard. He may be a tackle. He’s going to be ready at both spots.”