Two years ago, the Dickson football program was a crossroads.
Long held as one of the weakest teams on an annual basis in southern Oklahoma, the Comets have lost at least six games every year since 2004. None of the current players on the squad had left middle school since the last time Dickson played playoff football.
The administration turned to Jeremy Reed, a former assistant at Ardmore, to attempt to turn around the team's fortunes. Skeptics may have seen it as futile, a laughable effort.
Nobody is laughing now.
Dickson has flown out of the gates in 2012, jumping to its first 4-0 start in program history. It's a start that has current players realizing how far the team has come in such a short time.
"The difference is incredible," senior Drake Haggard said. "You can see here just how much more intense the practices have become."
And on Friday, Dickson will once again look to break new ground, hosting Pauls Valley (1-3) in its second district game of the season.
Reed insisted that fans should not be fooled by Pauls Valley's record.
"This is a fast team, with some good skill guys," Reed said. "We're going to have to limit big plays and sustain drives on offense."
To do that, the Comets will need to continue its success running the football. In a 57-17 win over Atoka last week, the Comets ran for 355 yards, paced by quarterback Chris Bamburg's 127-yard performance.
"The offensive line is much better than last year," Haggard said. "They're just stronger and bigger and you can see it."
Players hesitated when trying to remember the last time Dickson has defeated Pauls Valley (Dickson won 12-7 in 2005), but as Haggard said, this isn't the Dickson of old.
"We aren't scared of anybody," Haggard said. "We'll play out there with anybody."
At the same time, senior Brent Shelton emphasized the importance of maintaining composure and not getting caught up in the team's early success.
"We've just got to stay focused and practice hard every day like Coach Reed says," Shelton said.
Reed said himself he has seen nothing from his players to make him think the Comets aren't ready for the challenge in front of them.
"It's important to stay grounded, but there hasn't been anything this week to make them think they're invincible or anything else," Reed said. "I think these kids understand fully what they have to do, and that's practice each day to get better and improve."