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The roster of this year's Elk County Catholic High School varsity boys' basketball squad is filled with new faces. While the team returns four seniors, there are no returning starters or letter winners on the 16-member roster.
"Any time you don't return any starters and you don't return any letter winners, I think that is a challenge," said head coach Aaron Straub. "By the same token, besides the challenge, there is a big upside and a big opportunity. I think this is a team that will get better as the season progresses."
Right now, the team is still trying to improve as they prepare to open their season next Tuesday against Johnsonburg.
"Right now we are not very good, and it's not that we aren't very good because we haven't worked hard - it's because we're just trying to figure out who we are," Straub said. "We have not looked very good in our scrimmages."
While the roster boasts 16 players, Straub indicated that positions are still being determined.
"We are really trying to figure out positions and who would be best suited for what position. I really don't know who we're going to put out on the floor as a starting lineup," Straub said.
The team is led by four seniors: Kevin Kraus, Brandon Pollick, Michael Jacob, and Ben Wortman. The majority of the squad is comprised of its 11 juniors: Clayton Housler, Mitchell Vallone, Mitchell O'Neil, Brock McCullough, Jack Herzing, Alex Herzing, Hank Cappiello, Ben Cortina, Mitchell Gahr, Devin Constable, and Shea Meyer. Brandon Schlimm is the lone sophomore on the team.
Straub's assistant coaches this year at the varsity level are Jude Hoffman and Doug Straub. Mike Buchheit is the head junior varsity coach. Buchheit's assistants this year are Dave Bosnik, Marty Timm and A.J. Straub. Tony Breindel is the head junior high coach. Breindel is assisted this year by Wee J. Fernan.
While Straub explained that "the program always has goals, our coaches have goals and we're always working toward those goals throughout the course of the year," he noted that the players typically have their own meeting to set their goals for the season.
"We have not had that meeting yet. I hope they set their goals high and I hope they work toward those goals," Straub said.
The Crusaders will take on the Johnsonburg Rams at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Johnsonburg Area High School.