Muskego - At the start of the 2012 season, Muskego football head coach Ken Krause and his staff faced a major construction project with the Warriors.
As it turned out, the coaches and players ended up building a WIAA playoff team.
Muskego began this campaign in the unusual position of having 22 new starters. Graduation losses had been particularly heavy, and the lone starter scheduled to return, defensive back Josh Breider, was out for the season with an injury.
Injuries affect team early
The Warriors then lost four more potential starters to injury by the second game of the season, so more lineup changes had to be made.
Also, this was their first season in the Classic 8 Conference, so they had to make adjustments for facing unfamiliar teams. And on top of that, they had to open against the top four teams in the conference, all in a row, starting with perennial powerhouse Hartland Arrowhead.
If ever there was a situation set up for a team to struggle, this was it.
The Warriors did start just 1-3, but they rallied to win their final three games and earn a WIAA Division 1 playoff spot. They then nearly upset third seed Lake Geneva Badger, losing by one point when a two-point conversion fell short in the final minute.
"In my 16 years as a head coach," Krause said, "this is as gratifying as any year I've had. I can never remember starting a season with 22 new starters.
"I am extremely proud of these kids. We just kept telling them, 'You are a playoff team.' This was a special season. This was my fifth year here, and this is the year we really became a program. The kids bought into what we wanted them to do."
Junior moves about field
No one bought into the coaches' instructions more than junior Peter Roy, who experienced one of the more unusual seasons in recent years.
Roy began the year as the quarterback and led the Warriors on a late game-winning drive to beat Port Washington in the season opener.
Shortly after that, he was moved over to a running back spot, but he would still play quarterback at times, depending on the game situation.
Down the stretch of the season, he played both positions several times in the same game, with senior Sam Hirsch taking over as quarterback when Roy was a runner.
Roy finished the season with over 600 yards rushing to rate third in the Classic 8 and scored 13 touchdowns on the ground, which led the conference. He also threw for over 500 yards and seven touchdowns, so he was involved with 20 scores.
"He just kept doing what was best for the team," Krause said. "(Moving him to running back) enabled us to play (senior) David Kucharski more on defense (at linebacker), and that made our offense and defense better."
Krause acknowledged that Roy's situation was unique and added, "He was good at both spots, and he took advantage of his skills."
A great ground attack
Behind Roy, senior Tyler Thomka, senior Xavier Jansen and a few others, Muskego led the Classic 8 in rushing with 270 yards per game and was third in scoring at 29 points per contest.
When Roy did throw, his main targets were junior receiver Turner Kehoe and senior tight end Robby Sindic.
Thomka helped key the defense from his defensive back spot, making eight interceptions, including two run back for scores, and finishing third on the team in tackles.
His late interception and touchdown sealed a big victory over Waukesha West, and his fourth-down pass breakup set up a game-winning drive in another comeback triumph over Kettle Moraine.
Kucharski became this year's version of Jordan Gruettner, playing at running back, linebacker, kick returner, placekicker and punter and excelling at each, Krause said. Fans will long remember his last-minute kickoff return for a score that nearly won the playoff game against Badger.
Team names its MVPs
Roy was named the Warriors' most valuable player on offense, while Kucharski was the MVP on special teams and Thomka the MVP on defense and overall.
Team captains were Roy, Thomka, senior lineman Gerard Barr and senior lineman Adam Boniface.
Muskego loses 17 seniors but will return Roy and Kehoe, as well as some others who made big contributions this season.
That's a starting point, especially for the Muskego coaches, who are pretty adept at rebuilding jobs.
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