West Brunswick (N.C.) coach Jimmy Fletcher knows the look of a sinking football ship.
While an assistant at East Tennessee State, he saw the school slowly pull the rug from beneath the football program before eventually cutting the sport altogether.
Despite all the struggles and a winless finish in 2007, Fletcher says West Brunswick is not a sinking ship. He has support from the administration and a core of players that care _ there just aren't many of them.
``[ETSU] was a lot tougher, because of the finances,'' Fletcher said. ``They kept taking a little money here and a little money there. This is not [bad]. We've got a new principal, new athletics director and they have made it easier. We've got some new coaches.
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``I've got some things in place. I feel like they could be good, if it wasn't for the schedule.''
The schedule is always at the heart of any discussion involving athletics at West Brunswick. Aligned with the Class 4-A powers from the Wilmington, N.C., area, the Class 3-A Trojans have struggled to find a foothold.Fletcher's squad was undersized, overmatched and outnumbered last season, resulting in a frustrating 0-11 campaign.
But there is reason to believe greener pastures are coming. The school won a realignment battle during the offseason and will spend the next four years after this one in a split Class 2-A/3-A league, giving the Trojans a better chance to compete on the gridiron.
Still, the status quo won't change for another year, and there is a core of seniors that doesn't want a winless finish to their careers.
``We're working a lot harder than we did last year,'' senior quarterback Ryan Hill said. ``We're showing a different passion, because we're just trying to forget last year. I think we've got a chance to shock some people compared to last year's team.''