The Blue Devils (3-2, 2-1) started out with a 2-8 record in their first year under coach Scott Burton. Last year, Marietta started by losing its first four games, but rallied to win five of its last six games in order to get back to the state playoffs.
Now, the Blue Devils have a quarterback headed to LSU in Anthony Jennings, and are favored to return to the postseason. In short, the Blue Devils have gone from underdog to a favorite in a relatively short period of time.
“We were fortunate to inherit a young group of sophomores that were very wet behind the ears, but had some inherited ability,” Burton said. “But we had a chance to grow with these kids. We see some similarities in those regards. There‘s a natural familiarity that comes with newness.
“The group of kids last year found a reason to believe in what we were saying, but more important, they believed in each other and we were able to dig deep and make a second-half run. You never lose sight of your process. You always believe in the longterm process.”
Kennesaw Mountain finished 0-10 last year. After the previous coach resigned, the Mustangs found Andy Scott, an assistant at Lee County. Now, they (1-4. 0-4) come into their game with Marietta similarly as an underdog, but the team has been far more competitive this season.
“Obviously, if you look at the season right now, it’s not where you want to be,” Scott said. “But, at the same time, I would hope that we’re a little bit better than where we were last year. Obviously, you want to win. You keep trying to emphasize to the kids and everyone involved that it’s a process.
“Winning will come. It’s just a matter of doing the little thing right and taking care of the necessities that will win you football games now and down the road. Hopefully, as we do those, the wins will come. Hopefully, we are able to win as many as we can going down the stretch here. We’ve got five more weeks and five more opportunities to win.”
And it’s not something that only Scott and his assistants are saying. Burton admitted that Kennesaw Mountain appears to be a better team this year.
“It’s not hard to get (the team) to see how strong Kennesaw Mountain is,” Burton said. “You just turn on the film and see how hard they are playing. We understand that this region is difficult from top to bottom. It’s still hard to figure out who is on top and be ready to go.”
Much of the reason why the Mustangs are playing harder is a shift in attitude.
“We’ve got a group of kids that are tired of losing and are working hard in the weight room.” Scott said. “They’re working hard in practice. We’re trying to change the culture and change the attitude. We want our kids to go on the field and expect to win more than hope to win. I’m proud that our kids are fighting to the very end.”