Niko Koshak received playing time in the second half of the 2007 season, but he held the reins of the New Berlin Eisenhower offense from the outset this fall.
The senior quarterback separated his left, non-throwing shoulder during a 24-21 loss to Pewaukee, which forced him to miss the regular-season finale. Although limited, he played in the Lions' Division 3 playoff opener, a 17-7 defeat to Waukesha Catholic Memorial.
Koshak turned in an impressive campaign, connecting on 62.9 percent of his pass attempts (66 of 105) for 1,277 yards with a magnificent touchdown-to-interception ratio of 19-1 in eight regular-season games as Eisenhower finished 7-3 overall.
One of Koshak's and the team's highlights came Oct. 10, when they earned a 26-21 victory over fellow playoff qualifier Greendale, ending the Panthers' 27-game Woodland Conference winning streak.
The 6-foot-1-inch, 185-pound Koshak tossed four touchdown passes while completing 10 of 14 attempts for 220 yards.
And it's that kind of performance that should garner Koshak attention from Division II and/or D-III college recruiters, although Midwest Conference member Carroll College is the only program to express much interest so far.
Still, Koshak knows that with more time he will only improve, which is what he did this past season as he gained game experience.
"I got a lot better this past off-season because we worked in a lot of 7-on-7 drills and attended passing camps in Whitewater and Waterford, and I participated in Jeff Trickey's two-day camp in Waukesha," Koshak said. "I was definitely a different quarterback this year than last season because I was more flexible and stronger, and mentally I got a lot better from playing and the repetition. Our running backs and (wide receiver) Austin (Selvick) made it easier for me. Individually, my season was as good as I could have imagined, but as a team we felt it ended way too early."
That may be the case, but Coach Jeff Setz said that doesn't take away from what Koshak achieved, and hopefully the latter's work will solicit a few college offers as the recruiting season heats up.
"He's a good, fun-loving kid who just loves to throw the football," Setz said. "Because Niko has such a strong arm, we really could throw the deep ball a lot more. Many kids can complete the hitches, outs and everything, but he's able to throw the fly and post patterns. He's accurate and usually hits receivers in stride, even on the deeper passes.
"We shut him down from running after he got injured, and he played through the discomfort, didn't complain and did the best he could," Setz added. "He's not a vocal leader, but as long as he can get a couple of guys together or find somebody to throw to, he's out practicing."
Koshak will major in business, but now he wants to take care of business and be as prepared as possible should the right opportunity come his way.
"Any quarterback is never good enough because you're constantly working on reading defenses and making better decisions," Koshak said. "I want to continue strengthening my arm and working on making all of the throws."
Two other Eisenhower recruits
Selvick and middle linebacker Cole Klotz are two-year starters and all-Woodland selections who also should receive plenty of attention after their game films start circulating.
Selvick was Koshak's leading target, hauling in 37 catches for 598 yards (16.2 average) and 14 touchdowns during nine contests.
The 6-4, 195-pound Selvick also saw considerable playing time in the secondary. He is expecting attention from the D-III schools in Wisconsin and tapes have gone out to North Dakota and South Dakota.
"I'm hoping to play D-I or D-II, but I'm not too worried about anything yet," Selvick said as he began basketball practice. "Minnesota asked for tape before the season but I haven't heard from them, and we sent some stuff to Wisconsin. I just want to play ball somewhere."
The same goes for Klotz, who before the season started received an invitation from Illinois to attend its game in Madison. But the Illini haven't shown anymore interest, but he also should get some from the programs in the Dakotas and Minnesota.
Klotz, despite being an all-area choice last season, also improved drastically in '08 because it was his second year at linebacker after playing safety.
"Last year I struggled in getting off blocks and reading offenses," Klotz said. "This year was a lot better from a leadership and understanding standpoint. Everybody looked to me for answers and I knew them because I could get off blocks and recognized situations and could just react.
"My dream would be to play for a D-I program, but the first thing is education because I know that I'll play football wherever I go," Klotz added.