Things are different these days at John Marshall. Just how different are they?
Well, for starters, consider this: The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission released its weekly football ratings Tuesday, and right there at No. 19 in Class AAA were the Monarchs. For many that wouldn't cause a second look considering only the top 16 make the postseason.
However, when you've just won your third straight game for the first time in roughly six years, it's heady territory, indeed.
"It's nice to be where were at, because that means we have success,'' Coach Rick Goodrich said. "But we're not stupid.
"We know the meat of our schedule is ahead.''
That 'meat' starts Friday night when the Monarchs (3-1) head to the Eastern Panhandle to take on a Musselman (2-2) team that dropped its first two but won its next two by a combined score of 117-43.
"The kids are excited. I noticed after last week that they are over the giddiness. They expect to win,'' Goodrich said. "The ride home from East Liverpool (a 28-6 victory) wasn't bringing a bunch of kids home from a summer camp.
"It was business-like. They took care of their business and it was on to the next one.''
During this winning streak, the Monarchs have certainly gotten things done on the defensive side of the ball. They've allowed a total of two touchdowns in the 12 quarters, and are getting the desired results by beating people up on the line of scrimmage, an admitted rarity at the school in recent times.
"We've been very physical and that is what I like to see," Goodrich said. "For the first time in years, we are really coming off the ball and have created a lot of turnovers.
"Luke Howard and Brayden Carter had the best games of their careers last week''
That defense will be severely tested by the Applemen, particularly quarterback Trevon Wesco (6-foot-4, 215 pounds). The senior has given just about everyone Musselman has played fits.
"I think he was an all-state receiver last year and they move him to quarterback,'' Goodrich said. "We need to be physical with him.
"He reminds me of Terrelle Pryor in the way that he runs for his size. He doesn't look that fast when he runs, but he really is.''
Thus far, Wesco has carried 86 times for 471 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He has completed 60 percent (28 of 46) passes for 472 yards and four touchdowns, but has been intercepted five times.
As teams have found out, turning it over against the Monarchs is deadly. Running back Trevor Hardesty is a 100-yard-gaining, touchdown-scoring machine and he's getting some rest these days thanks to the emergence of Chase Gump, who has carried 28 times in the last two games.
Oh, and quarterback Noah Martin, though he did throw his first interception last week, is unbeaten in his three-game high school career.
"Different kids stepping up and we're not just relying on Hardesty,'' Goodrich said. "They practice with confidence and play with confidence.
"In the past we wouldn't have won the games we have.''