Rebuilding a high school basketball program is often difficult, especially at a small school.
In the case of Ron Cann and the Weatherly boys' basketball team, nearly 90 percent of his varsity team's offense was lost to graduation.
Brett Stallone, Charlie Wallish and Joey Haganey graduated, leaving behind a squad with its work cut out for it.
Coach Cann takes on this challenge with the utmost optimism.
"In a small school setting, rebuilding years happen," Cann said. "Numbers go down, then they're back up a couple years later and so on. But there are always positives when the rebuilding happens."
This is a season in which enrollment in Weatherly boys' basketball is low. The varsity squad will have eight players, with two of those players also taking part in the junior varsity games.
But Cann likes to look at things optimistically.
"The younger kids on the team will be getting plenty of playing time and this is only going to make them better down the road," he said. "My players work hard for me and they play hard. They're a good group of kids and they listen. I have the utmost regard for these kids and the way they have been responding."
In typical Wrecker fashion, the tempo will be fast and the defense will force the issue. With no players listed on the roster that are taller than 5-foot-11, look for this year's squad to push the ball every chance it gets.
Senior Josh Reiner (5-8) returns and will take on the leader role. According to Cann, Reiner is "the one that I look to to get things organized. He plays great help-side defense and he takes on the responsibility of showing the younger guys what to do."
Josh's brother Luke (5-10, Jr.), got some quality playing time a year ago and will be the coach out on the floor.
"He started at point guard last year, as well as the other guard spots, so it's nice to have that diversity in his abilities," Cann admits. "He's our main ball handler and the floor general."
Sophomore Luke Figas (5-9) moves into the lineup this year and has been displaying tremendous effort.
"He has to learn a lot about the game yet, and once he does, he will bring us a lot," said Cann. "He brings the total effort each practice and will each game. He doesn't stop moving and has a ton of energy."
Nick Miller (5-9, Jr.), has a tough role for the team in the ensuing weeks.
"He is another kid that works so hard and is a pretty good shooter off the dribble," Cann said. "He is going to have to be one of our defensive stoppers for us to be in it."
Making the transition from JV a season ago to this year's varsity squad, Brett Kelly (5-11, Jr.) will have to be a hard worker for the Wreckers' inside game.
"Hopefully, he can be one of our better shooters and coming up from JV to varsity," said Cann. "We are going to have to see what he can do because we'll need him to play hard inside."
Scott Coll (5-7, Sr.) is out for the team for the first time this year and will be brought right into the mix, while sophomores Tim Busher (5-11) and Dillon Bizarre (5-10) will be counted on to improve as the year goes along.
"We're hoping they improve as time goes on, because with low numbers, we're going to need them to step in and contribute," Cann said.
They've had a scrimmage against Line Mountain and plenty of practice time and the optimism is there for a reason, as the coaching staff sees the desire, hard work and improvement already.
"I like the up-tempo type of game," Cann said. "We don't have a player taller than 5-11 to set up the offense and pound it inside, so I don't see us doing other than running. This is a very young crew and yet, I have confidence in each and every one of them."
With teams like Mahanoy Area, Marian and Nativity on Cann's radar, he knows his team will have to adapt to the intensity and toughness that the varsity level demands.
"I don't like to call it a rebuilding year," he said. "I like to say, 'Let's go with what we got.'"