Looking back at the 2014 high school football season, Tom Lee knows the biggest challenge for his La Crosse Aquinas Blugolds was to score points. The team managed to reach double-digit figures in only four of its nine games, and was outscored 303-72 on the season.
The result was a 2-7 record.
"We were not efficient enough on offense last season and that has been our primary focus is making sure we take our players that we've got, put players in the position to be successful, and have them make that success," Lee said. "They've embraced it."
An ongoing challenge has been sustaining participation numbers. Aquinas had less than 30 players healthy at the end of last season for head coach Tom Lee to work with, and there's been a struggle to increase numbers beyond that.
This season might spell a change for both problems. Former La Crescent High School head coach Steve Kramer joined the program as offensive coordinator, and the number of athletes signed up to play this season has risen to 38, among them 13 seniors - about double the figure from a season ago.
"We think it really fits the kind of athletes we've got, the stuff he wants to do," Lee said.
As the team took the field earlier this week for practice, there was a sense of big things to come from players and coaches alike.
"It's just going to be a real good year, we can feel it," senior Kellan Doberstein said. "We've got a lot of seniors, got a lot of leadership. I'm just looking forward to going out and playing every Friday night. We know we work harder than any other team in the conference out there. In the summer we're working hard, conditioning like no other team. We really feel like we can stick with teams just with out hustle."
Aquinas opens the season Saturday, August 22 against Prairie du Chien.