Banged-up Sabers hope to get healthy

Manistee Catholic Central senior running back Jesse Miller is one of a half-dozen injured Sabers. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate file photo)

MANISTEE — Jesse Miller found himself in an unusual spot during practice on Monday.

The Manistee Catholic Central senior was at the back of the defense occupying a safety spot while the Sabers went through offensive snaps.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played back here,” he said.

Miller wasn’t really playing the position either, merely occupying a spot and trying to avoid further injury, a rash of which plagued the Sabers during their 30-6 loss at Montabella on Friday. MCC has 20 players on the roster, six of which are injured.

“It’s just hard,” said MCC coach Dave Russell. “Lady Luck was not on our side as far as injuries.”

Starting fullback/linebacker Jeremy Bigalke has been out with a shoulder injury since Week 1. Running back Alex Carter (ankle) didn’t take any offensive snaps against Montabella and running back Miller (ankle/groin) had to leave the game as well.

“It was really upsetting to watch that,” Miller said. “I wanted to play, but every time I went in, I just hurt even more.”

With the starting backfield out, quarterback Alex Bialik moved to running back and tight end Ben Feliczak under center. Bialik was also dinged up on Friday, along with fullback Jason Kaminski and guard Kyle Stone.

MCC (1-2) led Montabella (2-1) 6-0 at halftime and the two teams were tied going into the fourth quarter before all the Sabers’ injuries mounted and the Mustangs pulled away late.

“I’m sure we would have played a lot better,” Miller said. “I don’t know if we would have won, but it would have been a lot better game.”

That could make the loss a little easier for the Sabers to take, considering they were unable to give the Mustangs their best shot.

“It would have been a different game if we were all healthy,” Carter said.

The Sabers have now lost two straight after opening the season with a win at Harbor Springs. MCC will begin play in the West Michigan D League at home on Friday against Baldwin (1-2) and took precautions during Monday’s practice.

“We had three very tough games and it took its toll on our kids,” Russell said. “We’ve got to get healthy, that’s why we’re going against shields and dummies.”

It wasn’t an ideal setup for the Sabers, but they really didn’t have much of a choice.

“You sit back as a coach and realize you have to rest them,” Russell said. “Are you happy with the loss? No. You wish you could have done something about it, but reality hits and we have a lot of injuries we have to overcome. We have to get better.”

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