When Ben Chossek saw the New Berlin West football job was open, he saw an opportunity to build a consistent contender in the Woodland West.
The Vikings have missed the playoffs the past two seasons and haven't finished with a winning record since 2010.
"I felt this is a place that is on level footing with the other teams in the conference," Chossek said. "If you do things the right way and the kids come and do things the right way every day you will have a chance to be successful on Friday nights. I thought it was an opportunity to rebuild something that wasn't quite where everybody wanted it to be."
New Berlin West went 12-25 in Al Moroder's four years as head coach, including going 2-7 in each of the past two seasons. Moroder resigned in January to take over the football program at Nicolet, leading the Vikings to turn to Chossek.
Chossek was the head coach at Grafton from 2008-2013. He was the offensive coordinator at Brookfield East in 2014-15 and served as an assistant coach at Wisconsin Lutheran College from 2000-07 and at Mukwonago from 1998-99.
The task in front of him is a tall one, as the Vikings have work to do to move up in the Woodland West.
"One of the big things is laying out the expectations right away and staying consistent with those," Chossek said. "We have to keep in mind that this is a process. Getting better is a process. You have to show up every day and do it. Celebrate the successes as you move through that process but always look to get better."
The first step for the Vikings will be learning the offensive and defensive systems Chossek is bringing over. New Berlin West will continue to run an option offense, but the majority of the terminology on both sides of the ball is new.
Although it meant winning just four games over the past two years, New Berlin West had numerous underclassmen garner experience. The Vikings return five starters on offense, including running backs Max Meleski and Tyler Sidders and wide receiver Nick Paget. Senior Nate Egofske will start at quarterback. Defensive end Mitch Hewitt and linebacker Tony Gress are among seven returning starters on defense, which should get a boost with the addition of transfer defensive tackle Jeremy Alexander, who was a first-team All-North Shore selection at Homestead last season.
"Having experienced players is huge," Chossek said. "Even if they are using a bit of a different scheme, they've been out there on Friday nights under the lights. They understand the varsity football game and the preparation that goes into it."
Player to watch: DT Jeremy Alexander recorded 30 tackles, six tackles for loss and one sack for Homestead last season. His presence will not only shore up the interior of the line for the Vikings, but he also brings experience of playing in big games having won a state championship last season with the Highlanders.
Keep an eye on: How quick can New Berlin West pick up on Chossek's system? The Vikings have winnable non-conference games against Port Washington and Milwaukee Lutheran before facing Greendale and Pewaukee in their first two conference games.
We say: The Vikings will need to pull at least one upset in order to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013. With three conference wins needed to be eligible for the postseason, New Berlin West must beat Pius XI Catholic. Then it would need to upset Greendale, New Berlin Eisenhower or Wauwatosa West to make its crossover game meaningful. The task might be too tall in Chossek's first season.
First team: None
Honorable mention: Nick Paget (WR), Max Meleski (RB), Tony Gress (LB), Mitch Hewitt (DE)
First-team losses: Jack Hanley (OL)
Coach: Ben Chossek (first season)
Outcome: Did not make playoffs
Last year (home in bold)
Port Washington L 28-21
Milwaukee Lutheran L 28-14
Pius XI Catholic L 41-21
Greendale L 41-6
Pewaukee L 21-20
New Berlin Eisenhower L 42-19
Wauwatosa West L 41-0
Cudahy W 21-20
Brown Deer W 37-19
Aug. 19 Port Washington
Aug. 26 Milwaukee Lutheran
Sept. 2 Greendale
Sept. 9 Pewaukee
Sept. 16 New Berlin Eisenhower
Sept. 23 Wauwatosa West
Sept. 30 Pius XI Catholic
Oct. 7 Woodland Crossover
Oct. 14 Woodland Crossover