They lost their coach, their best player and three other starters.
But when you’re Bill Johnson, you don’t sweat the small stuff.
The Blue Devils have a new man in charge of their boys basketball team this winter.
Actually, the new coach is certainly not a new face in the Tallmadge School District.
Johnson was the head girls basketball coach from 2010 to 2014. By the way, Johnson (59-34 at Tallmadge) led the Blue Devils to their first regional appearance since 1999.
Johnson then spent one year with his older brother Kenny as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Cuyahoga Falls, before taking a year off.
Johnson, who enters his seventh season as a head coach and 15th overall, had been Uniontown Lake’s head girls basketball coach the last two years. He also spent time as an assistant coach at Hudson and at Whetstone High School in Columbus.
Johnson replaces former Blue Devils head coach Mike Bluey, who is now the head boys basketball coach at Hoover High School in North Canton.
Johnson, who has a 71-68 record as a head coach, also will have to replace four seniors, including the team’s top scorer.
The most noteworthy loss is point guard Matthew Francesconi, who scored more than 1,000 points and is now playing at Marietta College.
Also graduating were guard Jake Rensel, guard/forward Seth Gergely, who is playing baseball at Purdue University in Indiana, and forward Zach Boyd, who is playing baseball at Morehead State University in Kentucky.
Despite these losses, the ever-optimistic Johnson is thrilled to be at a place that gave him his first opportunity as a head coach.
"It’s going really well," Johnson said. "They are coming to work every day. They are here to learn and get better every day."
Tallmadge also has a new assistant coach. Like Johnson, though, this new coach doesn’t need a GPS to find his way around the high school.
Johnson’s varsity assistant is former Blue Devils head boys basketball coach Jon Karnuth, who last worked in 2009. Karnuth led Tallmadge to a 113-62 record during his eight-year tenure.
Scott Campbell, who led the Blue Devils girls golf team to its most successful season in recent memory, returns as the junior varsity coach. Steve Strasser, who is the head coach of Tallmadge’s boys and girls tennis teams, is the freshman coach.
Although he had been out of the district during the last four years, Johnson never really left a place he considers a second home.
"I love the people here," he said. "The administration has been great. They have welcomed me back with open arms."
The energetic Johnson, who is an intervention specialist at Tallmadge Middle School, wants his players to enjoy their experience this winter. More importantly, he is urging his players to compete for each other.
"It goes back to Coach (Mike) Meneer (Johnson’s former head coach at Cuyahoga Falls)," Johnson said. "I spend so much time with the guys. I spend more time with them than I do with my family at home during the winter season.
"We want them to cheer on their teammates and keep the negativity out of the locker room. Sometimes, that can lead to three to five more wins. We want them to care for each other."
And with that mindset firmly planted in place, the Blue Devils will rely on a familiar old philosophy that many coaches want from their players.
"The sum is greater than the parts."
"I’m not that concerned with the final score and beating the other team," Johnson said. "It’s more team before me. Luckily, the kids I have believe in that philosophy."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.