GLEN DALE - A lot of programs would have difficulty replacing an All-Valley captain, another first-teamer and a pair of second-teamers. It may turn out that John Marshall is not immune to such issues, but history suggests it will not be the case.
Monarchs coach Bob Montgomery wasn't rushing around preparing for his 39th season at the school, in large part because he took care of that last year.
What some see as an unorthodox use of so many players, not only from one season to the next but also within a game, has served Montgomery, who was one victory shy of 800 entering the campaign, well through the years.
''That's always been my modus operandi,'' Montgomery said. ''A lot of people kid me about this and say it's just playing kids, I am an underdog or a bleeding-heart guy, and there's a lot to that from my growing up experiences.
''But there's purpose always, and it's shown. Kids are playing the next year and we have some guys back.
''I learned this a long time growing up, because I played and I sat in different sports. We don't know anything bout anybody unless they're out there.''
After losing Todd Schmidt (Mount Union), Jake Lucas (West Liberty), Josh McKown (Potomac State), Aaron Fonner (WLU), Ryan Gellner, Tyler West and Jimmy Jackson, the Monarchs welcome back an experienced cast from a team that was 23-16 and locked in a scoreless game in the seventh inning of a regional final with Fairmont Senior before being eliminated. Leading the way is senior right-hander Shane Wellman (6-4, 3.29 ERA, 57 strikeouts in 55 innings).
''That was Shane on the mound, Fairmont game,'' Montgomery noted. ''That was the biggest game of his young career and I thought he made very good pitches, but those Fairmont kids had four great at-bats.
''I think that that will drive him a little bit. He hasn't forgotten that.''
Wellman is a team captain along with his batterymate, senior Zach Winland, who Montgomery said has improved as a defensive catcher. Winland batted .370 with nine doubles.
Senior right-handers Jeremiah Fromhart, Chris Minder and Evan Magers, along with junior Schuyler Callihan will be joined in the rotation by lefty Mitch Whorton, who is a senior. All told, 10 of the 15 players listed on the varsity roster can pitch.
''From the history of the program, the kids are always trying,'' Montgomery said.
Wellman will be at short when not pitching, while Fromhart will play there also, but will start mostly at third. Minder is the second baseman with junior Jerreck Waldrum looking to fill in there.
Magers is in center, with senior Jeremy Betras in left. Right field will be a combination of junior Tanner Filben and senior Daniel Barker, who can also catch. Whorton will be at first.
Cody Frazier, Cory Schubert, Waldrum and Zelic will all see serious action.
There are 23 sophomores and juniors on the roster, so Montgomery and his staff, which includes his wife, Sabrina, along with Roger Simmons, Joe Sturgill, Dave Coffield and Ryan Zelinski and Shaun Mayle, decided to have two jayvee teams.
''Once somebody's won, we're supposed to. When we don't, it's like the whole world is caving in,'' Montgomery said. ''If we're 0-30 this year, someone will get after me."