Size disadvantage not a problem for Franklin Regional nose guard Jude Gentile

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Saturday, September 23, 2023 | 11:01 AM


When you think of a nose guards on a football team, former Steeler Casey “Big Snack” Hampton comes to mind.

When Hampton played, he stood 6-foot-1, 325 pounds.

At Franklin Regional, the Panthers’ starting nose guard is about half that size, sometimes being one of the smallest players on the field.

Junior Jude Gentile, all 5-foot-5, 150 pounds of him, mans the center of the Panthers’ defensive line.

That is not a typo. Gentile uses his quickness, strength and wrestling prowess to give opponents fits. He also backs up Kyle Dupill at tailback.

“He’s one of the toughest kids on the team,” Franklin Regional coach Lance Getsy said. “We knew we had to get him on the field. We needed help up front. He does a great job taking on a double team to free up our linebackers.

“He loves it. He’s a tough kid. He’s a wrestler and he has that wrestler’s mentality.”

Gentile replaced sophomore Troy Slezak who has been out with an injury. Getsy said Slezak, who started last year, will have to earn the spot back. He said when he returns he’ll add depth to the line.

Gentile moved to nose guard during training camp.

“We tried it out and they loved my speed,” Gentile said. “They saw I was able to get past lineman.

“I used to play linebacker, but I love being on the line. I’m effective because of my speed and my size being somewhat smaller.”

Even though Thomas Jefferson defeated Franklin Regional in Week Zero, Gentile had a good game and became comfortable at the position.

“When we played Thomas Jefferson in Week Zero, I didn’t think I would do that well because they were way bigger,” Gentile said. “It was the first half and I shot past the lineman and sacked the quarterback. I’m learning new things every week.”

Gentile credits defensive line coach Jim Lane and defensive coordinator Michael LeDonne for teaching him different techniques.

“Being a nose tackle at 150 pounds is unheard of,” Franklin Regional defensive line coach Jim Lane said. “His speed and toughness is as good as it gets. He doesn’t care how big they are; he went against a couple 300 pounders and held his own. He’s just tough.

“People are learning now about him. Instead of trying to blow him off the ball, they are backing up and let him come to them, and that kind if negated what he’s able to do.”

Lane said he doesn’t know how long Gentile will be able to play the position because of injury concerns.

“He never missed practice,” Lane said.

“The trainer will tell him no hitting and he says OK and he’s out here hitting. He doesn’t stop. He’s learning different things. He has the desire to do it and at that size, it’s not easy.”

When Franklin Regional played Gateway, he lined up against a center more than 100 pounds larger.

He was effective clogging the middle. Other than a few quarterback draws, Gateway didn’t run much against the Panthers’ defense.

“I did get pancaked a few times, but I was still able to shoot the gaps,” Gentile said. “I did my own little thing and backed off the ball. I moved around so I could use my speed.

“I used to play linebacker, I love being on the line. I’m effective because of my speed and my size being somewhat smaller. It’s fun playing nose guard.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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