At this time last year, players on the Doherty football team could count the total number of victories in their high school career on one hand.
But after a 51-0 win over Palmer in Week 9, almost one year to the day, everything changed.
Now, they need two hands. And that's just this season.
"In the past, we didn't care what anyone in the hallways said," said Spartans senior quarterback Evan Powell, whose team lost 34 of 40 games from the 2009 to 2012 seasons. "We knew people on this team cared and believed. We all thought we could do it, and we started showing that this year."
In only eight weeks, the Spartans have equaled four season's worth of victories. On Friday, Doherty (6-2, 4-1 5A Pioneer League) will play for a share of the league crown - its first since 2000 - against longtime rival Palmer (0-8, 0-5) in what should be a packed house at Garry Berry Stadium.
Palmer second-year coach Justin Rich isn't at all surprised at Doherty's return to prominence. He witnessed that as he scoured game film prior to last year's Spartans victory over the Terrors.
"You could see that Doherty every week was improving, playing hard and making strides," Rich said. "This year, they had a good start and that confidence kept building. When you get those guys to believe and they start rolling, everything changes."
Indeed, everything has changed for the green-and-blue-clad Spartans, who boast the state's leading rusher in senior Zach Young (1,677 yards and 25 touchdowns) and an offense that's cranking out nearly 40 points per game.
Young, with a few more games, could become the school's single-season leader. In 1999, Craig VanHorn led 5A with 2,161 yards while rushing for 21 scores.
In addition, senior quarterback Evan Young is fifth among 5A signal callers with 1,885 yards passing, and he has taken extreme care of the ball, tossing 17 touchdowns with only five interceptions.
Combined with an undersized yet opportunistic defense that has created 23 takeaways, the Spartans, ranked 11th among 54 5A teams in wild-card points, figure to earn a home game when the 32-team playoff field is announced Sunday.
Even with a rare winning season, the Spartans are far from content being happy to make the postseason.
"I feel the sky's the limit," senior linebacker Matt Bogans said. "I figured we'd turn it around, but Palmer is still a team we can't overlook. This game is their state championship. We have to play them like they're any other team."