In athletics, people tend to have short memories.
A big win can generally erase a doom-and-gloom outlook, while a heartbreaking loss can cause even the most loyal of fans to write the season off as a bad job.
So when the Brookstone football team took down then-ranked No. 5 Mt. Pisgah Christian 42-34 in its season-opener, the dark pall cast by a sub-par 6-5 finish in 2013 was immediately broken.
The win launched the Cougars to No. 10 in the following Georgia Sportswriters Association football poll and they rose to No. 7 in the most recent edition.
Ranked above the likes of state Class A-private powers like Landmark Christian, Prince Avenue Christian and Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, there’s suddenly a modicum of hype surrounding this team and its future prospects.
Just don’t expect to hear that coming from those within the program.
“I don’t know, sometimes I wonder if the coaches see that more than the players do,” coach Brad Dehem said on Tuesday. “To us, the kids for sure, I think they’re just focused on finishing out our non-region schedule with Columbus and then competing for a region championship. At this point in the year, we’re still learning and trying to get focused, and that ranking stuff seems so far away.”
He’s right in the sense that the first power ratings, which determine playoff seedings for Class A schools, won’t even be released until Sept. 9. And the fact that Brookstone has a chance to be among the top teams if it manages a win against Columbus, a Class AAAAA team, on Friday isn’t even on Dehem’s mind.
“If you start taking that way, you become too comfortable with what you’ve done and then you get in trouble,” Dehem said when asked whether Mt. Pisgah was a statement win for the program. “(The players) didn’t know much more about Mt. Pisgah than what I or the other coaches told them. And we don’t look at them more than anyone else we play.”
Still, there were plenty of positives to take away from the game.
The Cougars ran the ball better against Mt. Pisgah than they did in all of 2013 with Sam Ndem rushing for 165 yards and four touchdowns and Prather Hudson going for 134 yards.
“There are a lot of mistakes to talk about, but you’ve got to be happy with the effort, especially in the run game,” Dehem said. “I think 299 yards on the ground and 140-something through the air. Any mix of that much yardage, I’m happy with.”
Ndem said he was happy with the offensive line, the trust the players had in each other and the intensity they showed on both sides of the ball. Once the run game opened up, he said, the passing game was able to settle into a groove as well.
“If we keeping playing with that intensity, that’ll help us,” he said.
If they continue to have success, of course, the already burgeoning expectations will continue to build. That’s not on the team’s mind, though, Ndem said.
“I don’t think we’re worried,” he said. “We’re just going to keep playing football. Expectations are there for anyone that has success. We just have to know how to handle it and keep focusing on what we do.”