HANOVERTON-The United football team may have started slow, but it is quickly rising.
After two disappointing losses, the Eagles made the 90-minute drive to Newcomerstown and got their first victory of the season, knocking out the Trojans 40-20.
The victory gave the Eagles a big shot in the arm, and it gave senior fullback-nose guard Zach Maze inspiration.
"It was very inspiring," Maze said. "It was the best feeling in the world."
Senior running back-outside linebacker Blaine Reiter was very happy to return home with the victory.
"It was something we had long sought after," Reiter said. "After that losing streak, it was great to come back to the community, the team the school, to everybody. It was a great feeling for all of us."
The Eagles entered the season with high hopes as they returned every starter. But after losing to Malvern and Salem in the opening two weeks, the Eagles had to pull together.
"It's like brotherhood, not just like teammates," Reiter said. "For most of these kids, we've been playing since the third grade. We've picked up a few on the way, but it's more like a family."
Maze also noticed the support from his teammates, most notably his senior counterparts.
"For games and practices, it's like family," Maze said. "We pick each other up, congratulate each other. There's not one bad thing about our team."
Their spirits are now up, but two weeks ago, they found themselves in a funk. First came the 34-28 home opener loss to Malvern. Then came another heartbreak after their 24-21 loss in Salem in the second game.
"We made a lot of little mistakes," Maze said. "In the long run, those add up to the big mistakes, and that can dictate the outcome of the game."
As the days progressed, the team pushed through practices and drills towards achieving the victory.
"We had some fine tuning and some polishing," Reiter said. "We needed to work on the little things."
Reiter said even teams with perfect records also have room for improvement.
"Any team, even if they think they're perfect, isn't perfect," Reiter said. "There's always something you can improve on each week."
"We need to finish the game", Maze said. "With as little mistakes we made in week three, I feel we could have come out and won both games."
United coach Mike Ward elaborated on a subject that Maze mentioned: finishing the game.
"In general, we've been telling the team we have to play a complete game," Ward said. "We have to finish the game. We still didn't play a complete game against Newcomerstown, but we still finished strong."
He makes no excuses about the two early losses.
"Our opponents had a lot to do with it," Ward said. "We played two very good opponents in Malvern and Salem, and in both games, we were a play or two away from winning both games."
With their first three weeks behind them, the Eagles focus on the future, including their upcoming Homecoming game and Inter-Tri County League opener against Southern Local on Friday. This will be the first game between the longtime rivals since 2005 when the Eagles pulled off a 27-12 victory.
These seniors may not have played a league game against the Indians, but they know the power the Indians have and look for that on Friday.
"We've scrimmaged them throughout the years," Maze said. "They're always a strong, very physical team. I feel that we will come out, play our very best, a have a good chance to win."
Reiter is also ready for the challenge.
"They're a physical team, they always have been," Reiter said. "We'll know who has the advantage at the end of the fourth quarter."