Despite six straight losses and eight over two years, Wilson High School's football team has a positive outlook.
But things haven't been going well for the Tigers.
In a recent loss, Wilson built a quick 14-0 first-half lead over Paint Branch and the Tigers appeared on their way toward their first victory. In the second half, Wilson made a number of mistakes, was penalized for more than 100 yards, and lost, 22-20.
A week later, trailing 7-0, Wilson drove from deep in its territory to inside unbeaten H.D. Woodson's three-yard line. Again mistakes occurred and the Tigers failed to score and went on to lose, 21-7.
"If we score on that drive, it might have been a different game. At least, we could have tied or been right there," said Horace Fleming, Wilson's head coach. "But we missed a call and lost 11 yards on a first-down play. Mistakes . . . "
And that has been the pattern of Wilson's 1984 season. With veterans at skill positions, Fleming expected his team to enjoy a successful year -- perhaps even challenge for Interhigh West Division honors. Unless the Tigers reverse their fortunes of the first six weeks, they will be hard pressed to stay out of last place in the division.
Missed assignments, penalties and the failure to score when the opportunity arose has left the Tigers reeling with an 0-6 record. Wilson has been outscored, 112-48. Trying to find a positive side, five of the losses have come against teams with .500 or better records.
"I thought our defense would be our strength because we had most of our people back," Fleming said. "We have given up too many yards and right now it's our defense that's been a little disappointing. But our defensive coordinator left and our offensive coordinator just came back a couple of weeks ago. I had to do both jobs.
"I still feel we're a pretty good football team," he said. "We've done more to hurt ourselves than the other teams have done to us. We're averaging about 100 yards in penalties and we've been inconsistent on offense. Pat (Keegan, quarterback) is still learning the position, but he can really throw the ball. He played the last two or three games last year and has shown a lot of improvement this year."
Running backs Jason Howard and Billy Oliver have accounted for most of the rushing yardage and Keegan has only one touchdown pass.
"Right now, the kids are fighting that losing monster," Fleming said. "We have to break out of this and win a game to get that confidence back. The spirit is there and we've played good ball. We're actually thinking of the first five losses as our preseason.
"We're actually starting the real season right now. This division will be tight, but I think we can be right there," he said.