Every coach lies awake at night brainstorming a way to get his or her team to play better, to find an edge.
Shorecrest Prep boys soccer coach Jeff Diedrich is no different. Just when his team could use a boost, just as the district tournament began this week, Diedrich got his wish, and then some.
Rheese Wiltshire returned to the club.
One of the area's top scorers, Wiltshire had missed most of the season with a knee injury. Right about the time when teams were hoping to swing into overtime for the postseason, here comes Wiltshire.
And none too soon. Wiltshire has scored five goals and added five assists in the six games since his return.
"He is, by far, the most technically gifted player on the team," Diedrich said. "Rheese has extraordinatory skill. He has been on the varsity since is freshman season when he was all-conference and all-Pinellas County.
"He is a playmaker, a natural playmaker."
But Diedrich feared his playmaker could have been lost for the season when Wiltshire injured his knee playing for his club team in Tampa.
"We were optimistic, but you are never sure," Diedrich said."We didn't know how serious it was. When he got the diagnosis and the prognosis that he should be back in January, well, that was good news for us."
"I got tackled and broke the growth plate, the top of my shin toward the knee," Wiltshire explained to be specific of his injury. "It happened where my shin connects to the knee.
"It wasn't that bad."
As Shorecrest prepares to play in next week's region quarterfinal, Wiltshire sounds almost as relieved as Diedrich that he is back on the soccer field.
"It was really nice to come back," Wiltshire said. "I had been out for a while and missed playing. I think the team started off rough [due to his void]."
The Chargers didn't get better just becaus Wiltshire was now on the roster. It got better because Diedrich was able to juggle the lineup with Wiltshire, strengthing positions that may have been weak spots.
"It enabled us to put other players in the middle which has worked out really well," Diedrich said. "It enabled us to put [Wiltshire] up front as a forward and concentrate on scoring."
The strategy worked perfectly for Diedrich and Wiltshire.
"I figured it would take a game or two" to get back into a scoring mode," Wiltshire said. "I'm just happy to be back and playing soccer again."