It was just three years ago that the Aquinas High School football team had to forfeit a game because of a lack of healthy players.
Last week, the Blugolds (7-3) won their first playoff game since 2012. They will finish the season with a winning record for the first time since 2008.
No. 4 Aquinas beat fifth-seeded Platteville 28-7 in the opening round of the WIAA Division 5 playoffs.
Despite winning just three games total from 2016-2018, Aquinas coach Tom Lee knew that brighter days were ahead.
“We could look over to where our middle-schoolers were practicing, and we knew the numbers would get better,” Lee said. “We’re not shocked by anything that’s happened.”
Aquinas moved this season to the SWAL conference, from the difficult Mississippi Valley, where it consistently had the smallest roster.
In addition to seniors on the offensive line and in some leadership positions, Lee has been pleased with how his underclassmen have played.
“We told our sophomores this year that they weren’t allowed to be sophomores,” Lee said. “They’ve stepped up after some injuries and really haven’t flinched.”
To get its eighth win, though, the Blugolds will need to upset No. 1-seed Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau (9-1), which finished the regular season ranked just outside the Top 10 in the Medium Division.
The only loss for the Redhawks, who have amassed over 3,000 yards rushing this season, came 30-24 to Baldwin-Woodville (8-2) in Week 2.
The Red Hawks, who beat Marshall (2-8) — which did finish 2-2 in conference to qualify for the playoffs — 48-18 in Round 1, have outscored its opponents 413-112.