Even as it has made regular ventures into the post-season, and even as it pulled off the occasional surprise, the cold numbers for the Jamesville-DeWitt football team remain stark and grim.
Just once in the last 13 seasons have the Red Rams earned a winning record. Turning that around is the long-term goal of second-year head coach Eric Ormond, who spent years as a J-D assistant before getting his chance at the big job.
"Schematically, we have changed things," Ormond said. "To be more competitive, we have to be cohesive and excited on the field. That will help us in the short term."
The long-term plan, Ormond said, involves building up the youth feeder programs to a point where top athletes will consider football as a viable first option -- a difficult task now, since J-D's basketball and lacrosse teams have produced multiple state championships.
In Ormond's first season, the Rams started slow, but improved to a 3-2 mark within the Class A American division (3-4 overall) before another quick exit in the playoffs, a 40-0 loss to eventual champion Whitesboro.
As with many recent J-D teams, the defense was a strong suit, but the offense struggled to put up points -- just 86 in eight games. Ormond said that his offense nearly erased penalties and made far fewer mistakes, but didn't execute well.
"We are inches away from turning a five-yard play into a 50-yard play," he said. "That changes everything."
Getting those big plays will require a steady hand from quarterback Akeem Williams, who survived a long audition process that included injuries and defections to get the starting job. At 6-2 and 175 pounds, Williams can look over defenders when he drops back to pass, yet is fast enough to take off and run, if necessary.
J-D has some options at running back, where Jailaan Kinsey and Jerome Bryant need to be replaced. Jake LaRussa and Curtis Walker form the current halfback tandem, with Eric Thompson in support, while Russell Runions succeeds Bryant at fullback.