There are two ways to look at Paden City's season-opening, 41-6 loss to Clay-Battelle last Friday.
One, it was a 41-6 loss to a Class A playoff qualifier from a year ago, one in which Cee-Bees quarterback Tristan Haught got off to a hot start, with five touchdown passes and more than 220 yards in the first half as they built a 35-0 lead.
Two, the Wildcats played that tough, playoff-qualifying Clay-Battelle team to a 6-6 tie in the second half and, yes, the Cee-Bees starters played most of the second half.
Zach Heasley and the Paden City Wildcats seek their first victory Friday night at Van.
Paden City coach Brent Croasmun likes option No. 2, with good reason.
"After the game our kids realized that we played with them in the second half," Croasmun said. "I think they walked out of the locker room after that game with a lot of confidence. In the past, you'd walk into the locker room and see a bunch of long faces. I think they realized that they made a lot of mistakes which are correctable and there was a good feeling as they left after the game."
The Wildcats make the long trip south to Boone County Friday when they travel to Van.
The Bulldogs got off to a similar start against Meadow Bridge, also a playoff team from a year ago.
The state's leading rusher in 2012, the Wildcats' Jake Parker, had 447 yards and six touchdowns against Van in a 56-20 Meadow Bridge victory.
The Paden City Wildcats don't have a runner like their Class A counterpart Meadow Bridge Wildcats do, but Croasmun knows that running the football is key against Van.
"I talked to Meadow Bridge's coach (Larry McClintic) and he told me they basically just blocked down and ran off tackle," Croasmun said. "We really worked hard on the running game (Tuesday) in practice. We want to run the ball at them and make them stop it and then throw on them."
Croasmun said he will again employ his bevy of backs, including Kane Pyles, Brandon Cross, Hayden Hizer and Devon Price as well as quarterback Zach Heasley.
"That's the game plan," Croasmun said. "We worked on running a couple of our backs in between the tackles, we worked on running the ball outside with our slot backs and we even worked on some running plays with our quarterback."
If nothing else, this week won't be a numbers game for the 18-man band of Wildcats.
Van, like Paden City, is facing a numbers crunch of its own, with 19 players on its roster.
"We feel like we are coming up on a stretch of games where we won't be outmanned because of numbers and a stretch where we can be competitive," Croasmun said. "I think we gained a lot of confidence in the second half against Clay-Battelle and we want to make sure that carries over to this week."