NEW CANAAN—Through one game, St. Luke’s football coach Noel Thomas must’ve been thinking, “here we go again.”

After an injury-riddled 1-8 campaign in 2016, the Storm started 2017 will a crushing 46-0 home loss to Capital Prep Harbor—the only team St. Luke’s defeated last year.

But instead of packing it in, the Storm rallied.

“Its two things,” Thomas said. “One is character, and the other is maximum effort. And we felt if we could streamline those two things, we could see success consistently.”

Luke’s rebounded from the opening loss to defeat Wilbraham and Monson Academy 48-7 before falling to Hamden Hall 48-7.

Again, the Storm wouldn’t be kept down, winning their next three games.

“We won three in a row and it seems like we’re on an upward swing here,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to build on that…our core is improving, Michael Hage (quarterback) is a junior and it’s the first time he’s starting, as he goes we go.”

Hage has rebounded from a slow start and has six touchdowns to six picks on the year. But this year, St. Luke’s has started running the Wing-T offense, so it’s the running game that must be successful for the Storm to prosper.

That starts with the offensive line.

“I know our offensive line has now gotten some Wing-T under their belt, it’s a brand-new offense for us and they’re starting to understand the blocking scheme,” Thomas said. “The guys understand exactly what we’re trying to accomplish; even if we don’t make the play, I see them in the right place and that makes a big difference.”

The results have been promising.

St. Luke’s do-it-all man Shaka Moales has almost 1,000 total yards and eight touchdowns while Norwalk transfer Chandler Greene has five rushing touchdowns in his junior year.

It still hasn’t been perfect; the Storm fell by a touchdown to Rye Country Day and were blown out by Kingswood Oxford in their last two contests.

But, with one regular-season game left against King, St. Luke’s—currently at 4-4—has the chance to finish above .500, a far cry from 2016, and even earlier this year.

And that, if nothing else, is a testament to Thomas.

“It feels great to see the other side,” Thomas said. “It’s great to win, everyone loves that, but more importantly we’re supporting each other. Instead of worrying about officials or something that gets you distracted, we’re celebrating each other and I’m happy about the product.” @reportedbytheAP