The Diboll Lumberjacks were the first victim of the Gilmer Buckeyes in their quest of the 2016 4A state championship. The day after the loss, head coach Blake Morrison went to work on the 2017 season.
He wasn't alone. A core group of seniors would step up and look in the mirror to see if they liked what they saw.
Now, the Lumberjacks are 5-1 overall and 1-0 in district. So fa, their play suggest they could be in for a sprint to the district title against Jasper. It would be the first since 2000.
"Seeing the past and how good we are is nice, but I am not a historian," Morrison said. "I care about now."
Looking ahead means looking to rival Huntington who plays Diboll Friday night. Huntington enters the game with one win on the year. Morrison is not overlooking the Red Devils.
"They are a talented team," Morrison said. "Jasper is always towards the top of the district. Rusk is good. They lost to Jasper on the last play. Tatum is always good. We cannot overlook anyone."
It is a philosophy he preaches to his players.
"We have to keep working hard and act like we are 1-5," quarterback Nathan Garcia said.
Last year's Lumberjack team went 2-8. With four playoff spots for the 5-team district, Diboll made it into the last spot. After losing to Gilmer 50-28 in the Bi-District game, the team has been on a different course.
"We started working the day after district last year and these kids bought in," Morrison said.
"We all play as one," senior wide receiver Dominique Guy said. "We are selfless. Last year we were selfish."
Now players at every position are stepping up and putting teams on notice.
"We have to prove to people that we aren't the same team anymore," running back Ty Hamilton said.
The team is also not letting off the gas.
"We are not the most talented, but we will out work you," Morrison said. "We are going to try to outwork everybody and earn the right to win on Friday night."
This team is hungry for more than a district title.
"It's a start but it's not much," Guy said. "I want to go farther than a district title."
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