Tosa teams on different paths
Trojans focusing on playoffs, but Red Raiders are setting a tone for the future
Wauwatosa West football coach Matt Good probably knows what Jake Wolter, his counterpart at Wauwatosa East, is going through.
Good took over a struggling football program two years ago which was coming off a 1-7 season in the Woodland Conference, 2-7 overall. Things got worse before they got better, as the Trojans were winless in Good's rookie season (0-8, 0-9). But then Tosa West turned it around last year, going 3-5 in conference play and 4-5 overall.
Wolter takes over a Red Raiders team that was winless last year (0-7, 0-9), and he will be looking to break an 11-game losing streak when they open against Cudahy at 7 p.m. Friday at Hart Park. Tosa East finished 2-5 in the Greater Metro Conference and 3-6 overall in 2008, last making the playoffs in 2007 when they were 4-3, 7-4.
Each team has different goals this year. Good is focusing on making the playoffs, and Wolter is setting a tone for the future. Here is a closer look at each program.
When Good talks about this year's team you can hear the pride in his voice.
"They are a very blue-collar group of kids," he said. "They come to work everyday, come with the right attitude. They take care of everything in-house. They are an outstanding group of kids to coach. They listen. They respond to what you ask them to do, and they give you effort."
This year's seniors will play a key role toward the Trojans' success.
"Every year we challenge our seniors to leave this place a better place," Good said. "We have a big challenge for our seniors this year. The next goal in our program is to make the playoffs. These seniors have set that goal and will accept nothing less than that at this point."
Like a lot of coaches, Good doesn't put a specific number on the win column. A winning conference record usually will get you in the playoffs.
"We don't care if it is five wins, six wins, seven wins, eight wins, nine wins, we just want to make the playoffs," he said. "Whatever it takes to get to that point. Whatever it takes to get to the right win-loss numbers on our team."
The Trojans open with a nonconference game against Milwaukee Hamilton at 7 p.m. Friday at home.
He definitely sees his defense being ahead of his offense right now.
"We expect our defense to carry us," he said. "We have a lot of experienced players back. We have a lot of talented players. It's our goal as coaches to put them in spots to be successful. As long as they continue to work hard, I think they can be one of the better units around."
The offense is a different story.
"Offensively, every year, it takes time," Good said. "We're plugging in some players in new positions. They're doing an outstanding job. We feel our offensive line is doing an outstanding job for us. Most of those players are back and the players filling in have played in our system last year. We feel that will eventually be a strength."
Good has seen the progress from year one to year two and he expects it to continue. He credits his coaching staff for it.
"I've been extremely satisfied," he said. "A lot has to do with our coaching staff and how they work in the off-season. We've been together in the off-season for a year and for the first time in 15 years we didn't lose a coach for this year. When you put your blood, sweat and tears into an off-season of preparation, the organization in practice really shows."
Wolter not only had to get ready for his first season at the head coach, but he had to learn with all the details that he didn't have to worry about before.
"As an assistant you have your one position," he said. "As the head coach, you have to make sure everything is set. I get home at night. I look at my e-mails, the phone is always ringing. The administrative part of it, that's the biggest thing."
Wolter feels that having been on the coaching staff has been a big plus for him, knowing about the ins and out of dealing with Hart Park. Who to deal with, who to talk to.
"Being inside already has definitely been an advantage," he said. "Someone who came in fresh, I don't think they would understand everything that goes into it being the head coach at Tosa East."
One of the goals Wolter has is to not only set the tone in football, but to help change the attitude of the school and the community as well.
"The biggest thing is going out there on a Friday night - seeing the kids, the excitement. I want to bring that back. Seeing the kids being excited to play football again.
"I want to bring that community involvement and the school involvement, getting the school - not just football - more involved in sports in general."
Wolter feels his athletes can play a big role in that as well.
"I told them at our first meeting, 'We have to change the atmosphere for our kids at school. As a football team you have a chance to start early so you set the tone,'" he said. "So when they get to school they're the leaders of the school - in the hallways, study halls and classrooms."
Wolter sees some winnable games on the schedule, but his bigger goal is to see his team improve - offensively, defensively and special teams - as the season goes on.
"A long-term goal for us is that within three-five years we're back in that mix where people are talking about us being a conference contender," he said. "We need to build and set a tone for the future, not be focused just on this year. This is the way we're going to do it."
And Wolter feels the seniors are a big part of the school's future.
"We have a great group of seniors what have bought into our program," he said. "I met with the seniors right away. I said I'm not guaranteeing you guys the playoffs and so many wins, but if you guys buy in, then that sets the tone for the whole era.
"Four or five years from now when we're successful it's because you guys bought in and set the tone. If you guys don't buy in, then the sophomores won't and now we're already three years behind."
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