PITSBURG – The Franklin Monroe boys basketball team has some big holes to fill this season as the Jets lost five seniors to graduation.
With the departure of the talented 2015 class, Franklin Monroe lost its top three scorers, top two rebounders and top two assisters. Even though his team lost so much talent, coach Troy Myers is confident that the Jets’ culture will have a new group of players ready to step up and fill the roles.
“Replacing players year in and year out is a result of the culture you have in place and how willing players are to accepting it and being a part of it,” Myers said. “If a player is willing and prepares the way the standard requires him to prepare, then we believe he will be ready regardless of the time his number is called. Some players wait longer than others, and we understand that, but ultimately you attempt to prepare each of them knowing at some point the team will need them. It is no different than mid-season injuries. The demands of the standard change all the time, but the standard never does, so you either adjust and adapt or you get out or get beat.”
With the success of Franklin Monroe’s boys soccer team, the Jets got a late start in preparation for the 2015-16 basketball season. Because of that, positions are still up for grabs as the season approaches.
“There are several guys staking their claim early, which is really exciting to see,” Myers said.
Among the players expected to contribute for Franklin Monroe is 6-foot 2-inch senior Zach Hyre, who averaged 8.4 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game and 1.5 assists per game last year – all of which are team highs among the returning Jets.
“I expect a lot more of what I have seen the last several months from Z,” Myers said. “There is a lot of excitement about what Zach is doing when he shows up for workouts right now, different from any years past, and a direct result to his investment in the people around him within the program. He is on a mission without the fear of judgment and has created an aura that others want to be part of.”
Other returners for Franklin Monroe include 6-foot senior Austin Brown, 6-foot senior Bradey Hesler and 5-foot 11-inch senior Landon Peters.
Also stepping up into varsity roles for Franklin Monroe this season are 6-foot junior Mason Conley, 5-foot 10-inch junior Cade McGlinch, 6-foot sophomore Zach Cable, 5-foot 9 inch sophomore Kyle Ressler and 6-foot 1-inch freshman Ethan Conley.
One thing Myers likes about this year’s team is its offensive flexibility.
“Probably different than years past we may have a bit more flexibility on the offensive end in terms of spreading the floor and making defenses be true from the block to the arc,” he said. “In all honesty the game requires the same basic truths regardless of the players, so it somewhat simplifies the preparation in that respect. As players come and go, we always try to adapt a style of play that fits best for our entire team and do what it necessary to prepare to win.”
Franklin Monroe has worked hard in the offseason to prepare for the upcoming season with an emphasis on team unity and accountability.
“The great thing about athletics is that you can’t hide when the lights come on,” Myers said. “Usually the ones with the most sweat and accountability invested are the ones succeeding. Our entire preseason has been tailored at building the unity and accountability of everyone in the program with a direct focus to what happens on the court.”
A change this season for Franklin Monroe is that the Jets are moving up from Division IV to Division III in the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament. FM’s enrollment just barely bumped the Jets up a level as the school is the state’s smallest in Division III.
“For the first time in program history our guys will have the chance to compete in the Division III sectional this season,” Myers said. “We are looking forward to what the new challenge of competing at that level may bring. At the end of the day, our job is to do what it takes to be the best team in the gym on game night and let the rest take care of itself.”