MANISTIQUE - In the offseason, the Manistique Emeralds lost Kyle Tiglas and Jake Syers to graduation. Now due to injuries, Kenner Broullire (foot) and Clay Weigle (knee) will also not be able to join the team this winter and for the duration of the season.
Despite the loss of two senior players, it is not as if the Emeralds are without any sense of leadership.
The duties will fall to seniors Zach Lambert at guard and forward Connor Selling, the only two returning boys who put in their share of minutes on the varsity squad last year.
"They're the seniors with some quality playing time last year," said coach Todd Kangas, who takes over for Ed Marietti following his retirement. "We're going to count on those guys a bit. We also feel like those guys can do well inside and outside.
"We have to develop some weapons to go with them, and we have to play defense."
He added their approach to the game this season is rather simple. They simply have to play solid defensively.
"If we do, we can be in the mix," Kangas said. "If we can't, I don't know if we have enough firepower to compete with some of the offenses we're going to see over the course of the year."
As far as competition within the conference, he assumes that things will begin much like they left off last season.
"I think Negaunee is going to be the clear favorite with the numbers they have returning and just the way they played last year. They earned that right," Kangas said. "Ishpeming and Gwinn wll be up there, but really in our conference there isn't anyone weak. Just about everyone has quality guys coming back."
The new additions to the Emeralds include two seniors, Max Nelson and Jared Edwards. Nelson played his first two years in high school, but sat out as a junior.
D.K. Boyd, Jake Zellar, and Coby Ryan are three 6-foot-4 juniors that have been added to the roster, giving the program some height inside.
Their classmates, Tony Floyd, Tyler Kangas, Logan Hayward, Michael Paul, and Tanner Watson are all juniors that will be helping the varsity Emeralds to find some production this year.
In 2011, Manistique finished with a 6-15 record and a loss to Rudyard in the first round of the districts. And with all the departures and injuries, Kangas could have a grim outlook for the upcoming season. But he is hopeful they can put something together.