HOUSTON CO., AL (WSFA) - It's been 13 years since the Houston County Lions have started off a season as hot as they have this year, when most of the players on the 2017 team were still learning their ABCs.
"I was probably still out there at Webb Elementary," said senior Trevell Smith.
"I was out here with my brothers. I was out as the water boy for them," said senior Immanuel Dawsey.
"Still in elementary school," said senior Devin March.
The Lions are 5-0 for the first time since 2004. Two years ago, Houston County had lost 24 straight games, but you wouldn't know that by looking at this team.
"The players really came together as a family and we look at it in a bigger way than just coming out here and playing around like we used to," said Dawsey.
"We got a new coaching staff. New players started coming in and stepping up," said Smith. "Our mentality went up and we started believing we could win more games and we did it."
What's helped in this hot start? Defense. Houston County has given up just 18 total points through the first five games.
"We are fortunate this year that we're really fast on defense," said head coach Mike Atkins. "I think the defense scored about ten times this year."
"It starts off of the defense," said Dawsey. "I think defense wins the game. If the defense is doing great, then the offense, it'll get our motivation right."
The Lions have done a complete 180 the last two seasons. From 2012-2015, Houston County won a total of two games. In their last 16 games dating back to 2016, the Lions have won 11 and have put the rest of Class 1A on notice.
"We want to be the game circled on the schedule," said March. "We want to be the kings of it."
"Our goal right now is to finish strong," said Atkins. "Because for us to be able to host a playoff game, we're going to have to finish the season strong."
The Lions will gear up for a rivalry game against the Ashford Yellow Jackets on Friday.