CREVE COEUR — Thomas Redmond's teammates have come to learn they have no idea when the junior forward will strike.
For those around the De Smet soccer program, it's not only about when and where Redmond will score or create goals — it's more about giggles and guffaws.
“I try to make it as fun as it can be,” Redmond said. “When it's time to be serious, I'm serious, obviously. But when I can loosen the guys up before a game (I will). I'll just scream a little, and it's all just random stuff. People are too quiet, I just get everyone going to realize it's more than just soccer. We're out here to have fun, and obviously we're still having fun this season.”
As the team's resident jokester, Redmond will try to keep De Smet (16-4-1, No. 9 in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-schools rankings) loose when it plays in a Class 4 boys soccer state semifinal at 3:30 p.m. Friday against Lindbergh (17-8-1) at Soccer Park.
The Spartans finished second in Class 4 last season.
“His energy, his smile just bring the team together,” Spartans senior defender Nick Grewe said. “A lot of times, people are tense. He's out there just having fun. Half of soccer is having fun and being loose. He says, 'Smile, you get to play soccer,' and a lot of people don't. It's just about the fun.”
On the field, Redmond has scored seven goals and provided a team-high seven assists.
Five of Redmond’s goals have come during the nine-game win streak De Smet carries into its second consecutive state semifinal appearance.
But Redmond’s positive statistics are rivaled by his leadership in other ways.
“He's a total goofball and I don't mind it one bit,” Spartans coach Josh Klein said. “There's guys on this team that take it very, very serious and need to relax. Thomas can be a little too relaxed at times, but he makes us smile. I'm happy I have him for another year.”
Two of Redmond’s goals came during a 3-2 overtime victory against St. Louis University High in a Class 4 District 5 semifinal.
Redmond had an assist two days later in the Spartans’ 2-1 victory against Chaminade in the district final.
“He can single-handedly sway this team any way he wants,” Klein said. “If he decides to show up and execute his responsibilities, the team can get behind him. He has done that for us so many times. What we've got to do is make sure we keep him healthy, get him the ball in the right moments and the sky's the limit for him.”
The Spartans are seeking the sixth championship in program history but first since 2011.
De Smet has lost in two finals since then — last season against CBC and in 2015 against Francis Howell.
In Lindbergh, the Spartans are facing a local opponent they haven’t played since 2001.
“It's just a blast, that's the best way to describe it, honestly, because there are so many good parts to this,” said Redmond, who had 10 goals and four assists as a junior. “Obviously, there's the soccer part and then there's the building of good relationships. It really just comes down to having fun and having fun playing together with your guys.”