For more than a year, and through some monumental growing pains, Rick Goodrich has promised an upgrade in the quality of football seen at John Marshall.
Throughout last season, he saw plenty of it. Most fans only saw the scoreboard, which, frankly, looked similar. (The last guy was doing that!)
A lot of times during Year 1, salvation comes from within.
Goodrich knew all of that was going to happen. The man has resurrected programs from Bridgeport to Cambridge. He knows the ups and downs of rebuilding a program like the back of his hand.
Suddenly, 13 games into his tenure, the Monarchs (2-1) have a two-game winning streak, having beaten Buckeye Local and Oak Glen the last two weeks. Given that both of those squads are winless, it's not time for a ticker-tape parade in Moundsville, but just getting that winning feeling back through the blood is a big step.
''You can see them practicing and playing with more confidence each week,'' Goodrich said. ''The true measuring stick of how mature we are is this week. If we go out and play hard, it will show we're making progress.
''If we go out and rest on the fact that we won two in a row, it will show we have a long way to go in the direction we are trying to get.''
More good news is Trevor Hardesty, John Marshall's do-it-all running back, will likely play this week after tweaking an ankle against Oak Glen.
''It'll be a game-time decision,'' Goodrich said, ''but I anticipate him playing.''
Hardesty, who had 31 yards on eight carries at the time of his departure last week, has 362 yards on 53 carries and six touchdowns through the two-and-a half games.
In his stead, guys like Chase Gump (14 carries, 67 yards, 1 TD), Jimmy Michelucci (five carries, 27 yards, 1 TD) and Alan Miller (10 carries, 41 yards, 1 TD) stepped up, showing the JM coaches they're onto something.
''It's nice to know,'' Goodrich said. ''They get reps every day in practice. We expect them to take advantage of their opportunities. That they did.''
Not to be outdone, kid quarterback Noah Martin continued his sophomoric rise. After hitting on 9 of 12 passes for 154 yards with a touchdown (to Howard Henry) against the Golden Bears, this 10th-grader has connected on 17 of his first 20 career passes.
''We knew he was a talent, and we knew he was going to be something special,'' Goodrich said of Martin. ''He just has to realize how much work it takes to get where he wants to go. He has unlimited potential.''
Things aren't as dreamy at East Liverpool, where things haven't gone according to plan. In his own attempt rebuild a program - remember, the Potters once played on such an elite level, they remain the last OVAC team to beat Steubenville on the field (2001) - third-year coach Rick Prescott thought this might be the year things come together.
They haven't, though the Potters haven't played as badly as their record might indicate.
East Liverpool (1-3) lost a pair to begin the season to Carrollton and Indian Creek, beat Salem, then lost a toughie last week to Cambridge.
''They're athletic,'' Goodrich said. ''They have tough kids, hard-nosed kids. They're 1-3 but in my opinion, they'll be the toughest team we've played so far.''