Rutherford rallying, strengthened by storm-shortened season

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SPRINGFIELD, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - As Rutherford works through the first week of fall practice, a new sign hangs leading to the field, reading "NOW...Never be Out Worked".

Rutherford working through week one of fall practice

That sign replaces the old one, which was blown away along with the practice field goal posts, half the equipment shed, watch tower, and lights by Hurricane Michael. it's symbolic of the "get back up attitude" of the coaches and players in this program.

Head coach Loren Tillman took over a few years ago when numbers were seriously low. Wins were hard to come by.

As they worked to rebuild, the storm hit and puts a dent in last season. So at first glance, a 2-7 season might make you think the program has taken a step back, but that's far from Tillman's perspective.

"We feel like it was a really positive year for us." Tillman said. "The way that our schedule was set up, we were playing extremely tough teams first to get ready for our 4A part of the schedule. The 4A part of the schedule, I mean we played Arnold very tough and competitive, up in class. We had 43 kids dressed, then the storm hit. and we started losing the 4A part of our schedule which we really felt like was going to be competitive. So we took a step in the right direction last year."

All things considered, it translates into serious optimism heading into this season.

"Very much so," Tillman agreed. "They expect to be competitive, they expect to win ballgames, and they know they've got the knowledge and the physical tools to do that. It's just a matter of going out there and executing it, and playing good football. Now they know what good football is."

The Rams host Mosley in a preseason classic August 16th, then host North Bay Haven to start the regular season on the 23rd.