Panama City, FL --- It's funny how one single win can have such a strong effect on a team. The Rutherford Rams got their first victory of the season this past Friday night in their most important matchup to date, going on the road to Arnold, and beating the Marlins at the Gavlak Sports Complex in their 5A District 1 opener.
Heading into Friday night, the Rams were 0-3, but the only record that matters now is their 1-0 District mark.
As head coach Alvin Dempsey says, their tough early schedule is what has his squad playing at a higher level now.
"We stressed to the guys, the reason why we played the heavy schedule we played, we wanted to play the 7A Niceville's, the powerhouse 4A East Gadsden's, the 6A Escambia, we did that for district play. The guys played out (there) well. The guys believe in what we do, and they understand the reason we play that tough schedule. And that's all Friday nights. We were a better team Friday night. We ran well. We caught well. We got to the ball well. But that's all because of playing that heavy schedule at the beginning of the season when it comes down to district time. "
After all the hard work in the off-season and practice, studying the playbook and game film, Dempsey's players were thrilled after the victory to have a result that reflected their efforts.
"Oh, getting that first W, those guys were very emotional all the way home on the bus ride. After we got the win, we loaded the bus and we came to our home to our own locker room to enjoy our victory at home. Those guys they were very excited. They're very excited right now. They've been excited all day long. They're ready to go out and get to work."
The Rams sit in a tie a top the 5A District 1 standings with two other teams, one of them being their opponent this Friday night, Pensicola Catholic. The Crusaders handedly beat Bay at Tommy Oliver Stadium this past Thursday, 54-13.
Dempsey knows Catholic will be no easy task, but sees his kids excited, motivated, and eager to accept the challenge.
"Catholic is a tough opponent, sound football team, coming up from 4A. They could play with any 5A team when they were a 4A, so they're a tough opponent. They're well coached by Coach Greg Seibert over there. One of the things we're going to do is just be fundamentally sound like we always are. We're gonna try and play our game plan and do what we do best."