Kenny Mulkeen's logic was simple enough: Double the reps in the gym would make him twice as strong as he was last year as a junior.

Kellenberg football's 6-2, 240-pound center said he prepared for the upcoming season by increasing his bench press from eight sets at 185 pounds to 19 sets at the same weight. He added that he squats 225 pounds and spent time working on his cardio, too.

"Guys look up to you if you're stronger and bigger," Mulkeen, a first-time captain, said Monday morning at his team's practice. He said the offensive line, made up of seniors, also returned stronger.

It's something of a necessity Kellenberg coach Kevin Hanifan said, because the team is without starting running back Jason Delucia, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament during the offseason.

Hanifan said the line would be counted on to open up holes for tailback Patrick Leahy, a newcomer to varsity. Hanifan said Mulkeen's run-blocking skills would help establish the ground game.

"Center's really important in our offense," Hanifan said, adding that he's confident in Mulkeen, who hasn't played the position before. "He calls the front and the shotgun snaps and he pulls if the situation calls for it."

Senior Peter Guariglia, a left guard, said he has gained 25 pounds since last season and is now at 6-3, 201. He said physicality on the gridiron and motivating younger teammates are his strengths.

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"I stand up, I stay low, I hit, I block, get hit," Guariglia said. "I've got to do what I've got to do to win."

Guariglia said last season's 8-2 record was notable, but it's in the past. Mulkeen echoed the sentiment, adding that the hard work starts now, as the team gets ready for its CHSFL Class AA season.

Added Mulkeen: "There's one dream -- to win that AA championship -- and that's what we're reaching for."