A tough beginning to the season doesn't figure to get any easier for a beleaguered Tyler Consolidated club.
The Silver Knights are 0-3, have been outscored 93-33, and are coming off a humbling 40-7 loss to a Magnolia team that was so intent on winning its own first game, it didn't have the time to dwell on the opponent's hard luck.
For all of that, Tyler gets unbeaten and second-rated St. Marys in Week 4 - on the road no less - in a border county rivalry on a rare Thursday night.
''Our competition is stiff,'' Silver Knights coach Ryan Walton said. ''That's the hand you're dealt, and you're going to play it. We'll keep playing it; we just have to rise up to the occasion.''
The Blue Devils have feasted on the competition thus far, most recently blowing past a Parkersburg Catholic team (by a 49-20 score) that had been unbeaten. Only one of the clubs the Crusaders have defeated show up in the ratings, (Catholic is in a wide tie for 18th), so that score was something of an eye opener.
Walton is hoping Friday night's verdict will be a bigger one.
''I told the kids, 'you have an opportunity to go in and put yourself on the map. Go out take care of the mistakes we've been making, and create opportunities for yourself.' ''
It's all about confidence for the Silver Knights, who have been led by the hard running of Jacob Highley. Highley has rushed for 400 yards on 62 carries and three touchdowns.
''Right now, the big thing at Tyler, we had kids that worked hard all winter,'' Wilson said. ''They bought into what we are doing. We've just have to get them success. Just because you work hard doesn't guarantee victories, but it does put you in better position to succeed.''
St. Marys (3-0), which has piled up 1,001 yards of offense in three games, has been led by junior running back Jeremy Pratt. Pratt, who had 147 yards and three touchdowns last week against Parkersburg Catholic, is averaging 11.5 yards per carry (26 for 290) and is one of three players on the club to have reached the end zone three times on the ground already in 2013.
The others are Noah Spitzer (54 carries, 237 yards) and quarterback Michael Stout (22 carries, 53 yards).
Spitzer rushed for 82 yards on 16 carries last week, while Stout scored on runs of 60 and 1 yard against the Crusaders.
Through the air, Stout is 11 of 25 for 138 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
''They take care of the football,'' Walton said. ''And they're physical. They run down hill. They're going to try to control the clock and wear you out. They have big backs, a big offensive line, and they come at you.''
The Silver Knights (0-3) will go against that with their best shot.
''We've got a game plan ready,'' Walton said. ''We're going to go in there, be physical, play our game, and see what happens.''