The grass on the Jordan High practice field is a little longer than most other schools.
The team standing on the sidelines before Tuesday's practice looked more like a small gathering than a team preparing to go to work.
These are symptoms of the program Jordan has become, a program that hasn't put together a winning season since 1993.
But the words printed on the shirt worn by new coach Jim Brown told the story of the expectations for the team.
Jordan football: Raising the bar.
"That's what we're trying to do here," Brown said.
When Brown came to Jordan in the spring from Lassiter High, where he was a defensive line coach, he was surprised at the state of the program.
While he said he knew what he was getting into, he was taken aback by the low numbers in the program and state of facilities.
After the graduating senior
class from the 2011 team left, the Red Jackets were left with about 15 kids, Brown said. Lockers, storage areas and trailers were packed with dirty equipment that had not been inventoried.
The team had five footballs. One was flat.
"You go to a place where the first thing you see is that it's dirty and nasty, what's your thought process?" Brown asked. "It's, 'Oh, what am I getting myself into?' I want things to be nice for the kids. It's their program, it should be nice for them."
So the coaches got to work.
They cleaned and inventoried the facilities and equipment and went to work on building the numbers in the program.
Now the team has about 40 kids -- better, but not as many as Brown wants.
"I told them when I interviewed for the job that I wanted 60 or 70 kids," he said. "At Lassiter, I had 18 kids just on the defensive line. The competition was fierce in practice, so when they got into the game, it didn't bother them because they had faced it in practice. These kids don't get that here yet."
The key word in Brown's statement: Yet.
He has a big vision for the program, and he's not worried about what others tell him is or isn't possible at Jordan.
"I have naysayers who say, 'Well, Coach, you don't have the right kids. They've never had the right kind of stuff.' Well, so what?" Brown said. "They're gonna have it. Why can't we have those things? Who says that we can't? We're the only ones that keep us from having those big dreams and goals, so I'm going to dream big. It may not be overnight, but we're going to get there."
The attitude appears to be carrying over into the kids.
A group of three players spoke before practice Tuesday, and, when asked what their expectations were for the season, they all had the same answer:
Raising the bar.
"People have been down on us," Timothy Griggs said. "We're just trying to prove that we aren't scrubs."
"We're changing how we carry ourselves," Damon Lewis added. "Coach is staying on us, making sure we improve. We're just trying to learn one day at a time."
Their first opportunity will be against Hardaway, another team out to prove something, on Aug. 31.
And while Brown would love to see a win, and expects his team to compete at its highest level, he's not thinking about wins and losses just yet.
"We're trying to change the attitude," he said. "You know, don't worry about not being a winning program in years. It's a new day; it's a new attitude. We're going to raise the bar."
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571
Nickname: Red Jackets
Head Coach: Jim Brown
Region: Region 5-AA
Last season's record: 0-10, 0-7 in Region 5-AA
Last season's playoff record: 0-0
Aug. 31 Hardaway (K) 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6 Northside (M) 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Temple 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 Spencer (M) 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 at Bremen 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 Bowdon (M) 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Chatt. Co. 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 19 Heard Co. (K) 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1 Kendrick (K) 7 p.m.
Nov. 9 at Manchester 7:30 p.m.