It's not a situation Stan Dakosty has found himself in very often during his coaching career at Marian.
Dakosty and the Colts are accustomed to battling for postseason berths, not fighting for a .500 record.
OVERTIME talked to the veteran Marian coach about how this season's stretch drive will differ from the last three years when the Colts were contenders for District 11 championships.
In addition, OVERTIME will look at a workhorse performance by a Northern Lehigh running back, a big game by a backup quarterback, and some overtime magic from week seven of the high school football season.
Now in his 33rd year as Marian's head coach, Dakosty has experienced just three losing seasons. In order to avoid a fourth, the Colts must win out.
Marian started its long run to .500 with a Sunday night win against Minersville. But with a 2-5 record and games left against Shenandoah, Jim Thorpe and Tamaqua, the journey won't be easy.
Just two years removed from a District 11 Class A championship, we asked Dakosty about the different approach he will need to use during this year's stretch run as opposed to what he did with the playoff bound teams from the last few years.
"The big difference is that the last few years we were looking to maintain and sustain the success we had earlier in the year. This season, we want to work hard in practice to generate some success," said Dakosty.
The hard work that Dakosty is looking for doesn't always happen with teams that are losing. But the Marian coach doesn't anticipate it being a problem with this year's squad.
"I've really been impressed with how hard the kids have worked and how well we've practiced the last few weeks," said Dakosty. "It was nice to finally see that carry over to a game on Sunday. I anticipate seeing that same type of effort the next few weeks as well.
"We've been blessed here that these type of seasons have been few and far between, but during the few that we've had, that type of hard work during the latter part of the season hasn't always been the case.
"I think the difference with this group is that we have a lot of young kids seeing playing time and we have great senior leadership. That combination has been a key to the continued hard work we're seeing."
Despite the record, Dakosty said he hasn't lowered the goals for the teams down the stretch.
"Our goal is the same as it was during the final weeks of the season the last few years," Dakosty said. "We want to win every game.
"The big picture for us is that although postseason play might be a longshot, we have a lot to work for over the last three weeks of the regular season. We have started as many as six sophomores and a freshman on varsity this season, our freshmen team has only one loss, and the Lil Colts program is enjoying a lot of success as well. We think the future looks very bright and playing well down the stretch would be a great way for our seniors to go out and for our underclassmen to move forward."
BUSY BULLDOG ... Northern Lehigh's Cody Remaley carried the ball 49 times in Friday night's win over Northern Lehigh yes, you read that right, 49 times.
Remaley's busy night, which produced 241 rushing yards, is the most by an area back since at least 1996. Since then, only two other backs have had at least 40 carries in a game. Lehighton's Robbie Frey did it twice. Frey had the previous high mark of 43 carries against Stroudsburg in 2005 and also added a 40 carry game that season. The other running back to accomplish the feat was Tamaqua's Wayde Williams who ran the ball 42 times in a game last season against Marian.
Remaley also achieved another rare accomplishment in the win over the Tigers as he picked up his second 200-yard rushing game of the season.
Since 1988, a runner gaining 200 or more yards two or more times during a single season has happened 15 times.
Leading that list is Northwestern's Brett Snyder who went over the 200-yard mark an incredible seven times during the 1995 season. Frey is another back who produced notable numbers as he had five 200-yard games during both the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
Other players on the list are:
Joe Semanoff, Lehighton, 2000 (2)
Dave Muffley, Lehighton, 1998 (2)
Dave Muffley, Lehighton, 1997 (2)
Al Donadi, Marian, 2000 (2)
Greg Izzo, Marian, 1998 (2)
Ryan Hluschak, Northern Lehigh, 2002 (2)
Nick Hosford, Northern Lehigh, 2005 (2)
Brad Walters, Northern Lehigh, 1998 (3)
Chris Siracuse, Palmerton, 1998 (2)
Jason Hernandez, Palmerton, 1996 (2)
Jim Hope, Tamaqua, 1990 (2)
Alex Zukas, Tamaqua, 2001 (2)
TOUCHDOWN MAKER .... Pleasant Valley's Anthony Bumbulsky got his second start of the season at quarterback last week against East Stroudsburg North and turned in a performance that no Bear QB had matched in six years.
Bumbulsky, who was among the leading receivers in the area during the first five weeks of the season, replaced injured teammate Derrick Walling as signalcaller two weeks ago.
Friday night against the Timberwolves, Bumbulsky ran for two scores and passed for two scores as the Bears posted a 30-25 victory.
The last Pleasant Valley player to have at least two touchdowns rushing and passing in the same game was CJ Haffner on Oct. 10, 2003. Haffner also accomplished the feat against ES North when he ran for four TDs and passed for two in a 58-14 victory.
OVERTIME ROLL ... Tamaqua's 13-7 overtime victory over Schuylkill Haven on Friday continued a nice run of overtime success for the Blue Raiders.
Tamaqua has now won the last three OT games it has been involved in, beating Minersville in 2007 and Mahanoy Area in 2005. Tamaqua is now 3-2 all-time in overtime games.
The Raiders victory was the first overtime game this season involving an area team and the 31st since overtime was instituted by the PIAA during the 1994 season.
During that time, Marian has played in six overtime games, which is more than any other area team. Lehighton has enjoyed more success than any other team in OT games as the Indians are a perfect 4-0.