Brookfield East's Tom Swittel has coached the football program for four years. And for four seasons the Spartans have made a trip to the WIAA playoffs.
Following their 44-0 win over West Allis Central on Friday at home, the Spartans (5-4 overall) finished with a 4-3 record, good enough for fifth place in the Greater Metro Conference.
Having a winning conference record also qualified them for the postseason as a sixth seed.
"It means everything," Swittel said. "It's something we want to do every year. It probably means a lot to us because we have little playoff history. Only twice in history before we got here (did East make the playoffs). Making the playoffs is a big deal, an exclamation point to the season."
Swittel talked about the conversation he had with his team after losing to Brookfield Central on Sept. 20, leaving the Spartans 1-2 in conference and 2-3 overall.
"Our mantra was we got to win three of the last four games," he said. "Every game is a playoff game for us. At every opportunity our coaches remind them of that. They knew what was on the line (Friday), especially the seniors. We asked them 'What do you want your legacy to be.' "
The Spartans won three of their next four games and as a result will travel to third-seeded Cedarburg (6-1, 7-2), which finished second in the North Shore Conference behind Homestead, the top-seeded team in the bracket.
If they win, they would play the winner of the game between seventh-seeded Wauwatosa West (2-4, 5-4) and second-seeded Kimberly (7-0, 9-0).
Senior quarterback Zach Damico was the story as he has been all season, rushing for 133 yards in 14 carries and two touchdowns. He completed 7-of-9 passes for 88 yards and a score.
Damico came out and threw a 39-yard touchdown to Cole Larson for a quick 7-0 lead. He then ran for scores of two and 16 yards for a 20-0 first-period lead.
Leading rusher freshman running back Sam Santiago-Lloyd, who rushed 11 times for 154 yards, scored a 3-yard touchdown and Connor Allen booted a 39-yard field goal for a 30-0 lead at intermission.
East added touchdown runs from Gerald Childs from six yards out and Santiago-Lloyd from 54 yards as the Spartans coasted to the victory.
"We had to replace 19 starters," Swittel said on coming into this season. "Now we had to rely on guys that didn't contribute in the past. We weren't sure about the changes.
"Usually, you have a pretty good feel. But when we were in two-a-days, I was not convinced that we were (a playoff team).
"But our players played up to their potential. I said we were a 4-5, 5-4 team. We finished on the right side of the ledger."
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