Francis Scott Key coach Mike Coons said trying to build a winning football program has been fun.
It just hasn't always been easy.
The Eagles have lost five in a row, 26 of their last 27, and the school has not had a winning season since the mid-1970s. Coons and the rest of the Eagle program continue to plug on, however, hoping to again bring Francis Scott Key to a level of respectability.
Coons took over at Francis Scott Key -- a Monocacy Valley Athletic League participant -- before the 1989 season. The team went 2-8 that year, but lost all 10 games each of the next two seasons.
Francis Scott Key then broke the 21-game losing streak with an emotional 15-7 victory at North Carroll in this year's opener. Key lost its next five, but Coons sees hope.
"We're a little bit excited right now," said Coons. "When you're 0-10 and 0-10 back-to-back, the future can't be much worse."
Middletown coach Tim Ambrose said the Eagles need help in certain areas. Ambrose, whose team blanked the Eagles, 37-0, Saturday, said Key needs more players, size in the interior line or exceptional quickness along with a good feeder and junior-varsity program.
"When I first starting coaching [in the mid-70s], Key was one of the top two teams in the league, and they stayed pretty good," said Ambrose. "[Now] They've been the team everybody wanted to play on Homecoming. It's unfortunate that it's been that way."
Coons agreed with Ambrose on the prescription for change. The Middletown coach called the junior-varsity situation critical. Ambrose said if a junior-varsity team goes "just a hair above .500" then it could be a success on the varsity level.
And that's what makes Coons so happy. After some lean years, the 1992 Key junior varsity stands at 3-2. Coons also said that the team's feeder program, the Junior Eagles, is starting to produce.
The varsity, however, still struggles with problems due to lack of size, speed and experience.
Of the 44 players on the roster for the Middletown game, only five weighed over 200 pounds. Linemen are routinely listed at 150 pounds. One player weighed just 95 pounds.
Key boasts no runner with major breakaway speed. Ambrose said Key can bang away up the middle, but can't take it outside. Against Middletown, for example, Key often ran plays to the short side of the field rather than take on the Knights and their speed.
As for experience, the Eagles boast 17 seniors this year. That's more than the past three years combined.
Rick Hooper is one of those seniors. The 5-foot-7, 145-pounder has suffered through three tough varsity seasons, but entertains no thoughts about quitting.
"I'm out there, and I love playing football," said Hooper. "Just because we're losing doesn't mean anything."
"The season's not over yet," said Hooper. "[There's] four games left. Hopefully, we'll come out with four wins."