Jason Barnett is entering his fifth season as head football coach, at Fluvanna County High School -- and he admits he's still fighting to change the team's culture.
"We haven't seen success on Fridays," Barnett says. "And I think our kids have expected that at times. And we're trying to fix that."
The Flucos haven't finished a season with a winning record since a 7-3 performance in 2001, and the program hasn't played a playoff game since the 2000 season. Barnett has just nine wins in his first four seasons at Fluvanna, including a 1-9 performance last year.
"People talk about it. People, we hear what they say," senior lineman Brendan Goode says. "And we just want to prove them wrong. We have the people to do it. We definitely have the coaching staff to do it."
"We've had opportunities in games, and we've always found a way in the third or fourth quarter to have something let down," says Barnett. "We need to be able to be focused from the moment when we step on the field, to the moment when we step off."
The team's struggles have created a sense of urgency around Fluvanna this preseason. Barnett says his players are coming off their best summer workouts since he took over as coach -- and also says he likes the way the Flucos are picking up new schemes are being installed on both offense and defense.
Barnett says the coaching staff is also focused on finding the right player to fill each position on the field.
"They're going to need to know multiple spots," he says. "You may play wide receiver one play, and you may be a pulling guard the next play. That's the way high school football works. We're going to take the best guys out there, and we're going to go to work."
"Right now, we just have to work," says Goode. "We've lost a lot of people, but we've also gained a lot of people. And right now the biggest thing is conditioning. The biggest thing is getting the plays right and just listening to your coaches."
"We've been in the weight room more. We're conditioning a lot more," says senior Macen Dahl. "We do everything that's needed, we do everything that's designed to help us win."
But the question that remains, is whether those new schemes or that strong summer will translate into more success this fall. The Flucos open the season with back-to-back games against three-win teams from a year ago: at William Fleming, followed by a home game against Spotsylvania.
"We're aiming for at least .500. I want a 7-3, 6-4 season," Dahl says. "And we're here. We're here to do that. That's what we're going to do."
"I'm tired of saying that it's not about wins and losses. Because that's how I'm judged. That's how we're judged," says Barnett. "We have to improve in that category. We have to win football games. That's the nature of the beast."