Here are a few important numbers to note when examining the progress of the Jordan High football team: 17, 22 and 70.
The Red Jackets have lost 17 consecutive games, dating back to the 2010 season, a streak that would cause any program, high school or otherwise, to fall off the map.
The team began the 2012 season, its first under new coach Jim Brown, with just 22 on the post-spring roster. That is a football team, remember, not a baseball team.
Now, just three weeks into the regular season, Brown estimates his team dresses around 70 players, an incredible turnaround for a team that still has zero wins.
"I didn't do a lot," Brown said Wednesday. "I think it was the players who started recruiting other kids in the school. I think they saw a program that was being run a little bit differently and saw that interest was being generated."
Brown has left the roster open into the regular season, allowing new players to continue to sign up, because he wasn't around to recruit in the hallways in the spring.
As a result of the vast improvement in participation, players have the luxury of either playing just offense
or defense, rather than both, in addition to the mental advantage that comes with feeling like a complete football team.
"We feel like we can win," said Darnell White, a junior defensive end and tight end. "At first, we just liked being out here. Now, we feel like we can compete and win in every game we play."
"We measure up a lot better," Damond Wyatt added.
"We've got better size and everything. It makes us feel like we have a better chance of winning games."
Winning games, of course, is the next step in Jordan's growth.
It has already, in just three games, scored more points (51) than it did all of 2011 (47). Last week, it lost by just nine points to Temple, which played in the state playoffs a season ago.
The loss upset the players, Brown said, something which indicates an improvement in the team's attitude.
"It's not (enough)," Brown said of coming close to winning. "The kids understand that they need to learn how to win. It's part of the process."
Lasaura Borders, a senior running back and defensive back, said that getting the first win could serve as another bump for the team's progress.
Already improving in the numbers department, a win would only generate more excitement and solidify the notion that the team is headed in the right direction.
"I hope it does (give us a bump)," Borders said. "Maybe it will be. We just have to be ready to practice every day."
Brown, for one, said he can't wait for the first win.
"It will mean a lot," he said. "It would really take the monkey off our backs.
"I won't lie, we want to get that off our backs big time. And I think the kids can tell that it's coming close."
"We know where we are," White added. "We're right there. (A win) would make us feel so much better."
Its next chance comes Friday against Spencer, another winless team under a new head coach -- Calvin Arnold -- going through a very similar process.
A win would be equally important for both teams in their growth, but Brown specified that the continued growth in the team's attitude, in addition to its growth in numbers, is what makes all the difference.
"It means everything," he said. "Without the attitude change, we're fighting a losing battle. That was the big battle coming in here. We had to change the attitude, and I think we have.
"Despite the 0-3 record, there is still excitement and improvement. Guys are still coming out to play. We're still learning, but I feel like we're getting closer. They can feel it, too. I don't think we're fighting a losing battle anymore."
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571