A three-game losing streak to teams at the top of the Woodland West division had New Berlin West's chances of making the playoffs seem slim.
But with a 16-0 victory over Wauwatosa West on Sept. 23, the Vikings have a path to their first playoff berth since 2013.
New Berlin West must beat winless Pius XI on Sept. 30 and win its Woodland East crossover game on Oct. 14 to become playoff eligible, which would be a big accomplishment for first-year Vikings coach Ben Chossek.
"We had quite a string of games against three really good teams in the Woodland," Chossek said. "To be able to keep our focus to get better to beat another good team in Tosa West was really exciting."
The lone score of the first half came when quarterback Nate Egofske hit Joseph Robey for an 86-yard touchdown that put New Berlin West up 6-0 in the first quarter.
New Berlin West added to its lead in the third quarter on a 27-yard field goal by Egan Iwanski and a 31-yard touchdown run by Max Meleski.
The 16-0 lead was enough for the Vikings' defense, which recorded New Berlin West's first shutout since Oct. 18, 2013.
Wauwatosa West had just 152 yards of total offense. The Vikings intercepted Trojans quarterback Jamil Razza three times and became just the second team to hold running back Paris Howell under 100 yards this season.
"Matt Hunt and the defensive staff have kept working with the kids to improve every single week," Chossek said. "They were able to do it again (against Wauwatosa West).
"We knew that Tosa West had some explosive players, so we really focused on trying to keep them in front of us and make them earn their way down the field. We were able to do that. It was really enjoyable to watch."
Meleski carried the ball 29 times for 119 yards to top the 100-yard mark for the fourth time in six games.
"The thing that really stood out last night is that they played together," Chossek said. "It was a true team effort. We made plays offensively in the pass game and the run game. Our special teams were solid all the way around, and we played really well defensively.
"The other big growth area is just learning to be a team, supporting each other when things aren't going exactly as planned and celebrating things together as a team when things are."
The first task for New Berlin West to handle in order to become playoff eligible will be to beat Pius XI (0-6, 0-4) on Sept. 30. The Popes have lost their six games this season by an average of 48.8 points.
A victory over the Popes would have the Vikings finish fourth in the Woodland West. That would mean their Woodland East crossover games would come against Whitnall and South Milwaukee. Those two teams meet this week. New Berlin West would play the winner of that game first in the game that does not count toward playoff qualification and the loser in the game that does.
"Our focus is game by game," Chossek said. "We certainly know what possibilities are out there if we can get better every single week and play well. Our focus right now is on ourselves and trying to learn from the things that we made mistakes on and be a better football team next week against Pius."