Pick a number, any number.
If you ask St. Thomas More football coach Chris Clarey to do that, he would waste little if any time before replying: Five.
Five is a pretty important number for a lot of coaches. That number will usually get a team into the WIAA playoffs.
"This year our goal is to get to that number, that magic number of five games and reach the playoffs again," Clarey, a St. Thomas More graduate starting his seventh year as coach, said after a morning practice last week. "Get back where we used to be."
Where the Cavaliers used to be is in the playoffs, not on the outside looking in. Since 2000, when St. Thomas More joined the WIAA after the WISAA disbanded, the Cavaliers have been in the playoffs five times.
They wound up 4-5 last season, ending a run of four years in a row in the playoffs.
"We hit a little bit of a tough stretch last year with injuries and we finished a game under .500," Clarey said. "We had potential to be better, a game or two better, and make the playoffs last year, we just fell a little short of our goal."
St. Thomas More has an enrollment of 395, meaning depth is often be an issue when injuries hit.
"We may not always have quantity, but if we don't have quantity, you've got to get the other 'q', and that's quality," Clarey said. "That's what we aim to do every year, try to get the quality athletes and get guys in positions to help up most when they're varsity players.
"One of the keys this year, there's absolutely no debating this, our key this year is to develop a quality backup at just about every position, because if we fall into that same boat again, we need to be able to just spring right into action and pick up right where we left off."
Clarey needs a good season out of his juniors, who include quarterback Lucas Swider, the starter in the last game last season, a 13-12 victory over Wauwatosa West.
"I'm very confident," Swider said. "I think we're going to do really well."
Jon Koszuta, an all-Woodland Conference selection at offensive tackle and defensive tackle, was actually happy to be in training camp.
"It's been fun," he said. "I've done a couple camps this summer, so I've been ready for this. All the guys are having fun, getting ready to hit."
The thing Koszuta and his teammates would like to hit most is a number. Five.
Jerry Karpowicz can be reached at (262) 446-6628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TM Vital Stats
Last Year, Overall: 4-5
Last Year, Conference: 3-5
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Head Coach: Chris Clarey (seventh season)
Assistants: Kevin Dyszelski, Joe Hasek, Tom Kruszka, Quinn Loucks, Jamie Nelson, Pete Oleniczek, John Schaal, Joe Switalski Sr., Joe Switalski Jr.
2006 Season in Review
Thomas More 27, Nicolet 14
Pewaukee 24, Thomas More 8
New Berlin West 42, Thomas More 0
Thomas More 22, Whitnall 14
Thomas More 18, Greenfield 6
Greendale 33, Thomas More 0
Cudahy 45, Thomas More 0
St. Francis 34, Thomas More 14
Thomas More 13, Wauwatosa West 12
(games 7 p.m. unless noted)
Aug. 28 Kettle Moraine Lutheran*
Aug. 31 at Brown Deer
Sept. 7 New Berlin Eisenhower
Sept. 14 at Whitnall
Sept. 21 at Greenfield
Sept 28 Greendale
Oct. 5 Cudahy
Oct. 12 at St. Francis
Oct. 18 Shorewood+
* 1 p.m.
+ 6:30 p.m.
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