Football at Rector High School has been an up-and-down kind of thing the past decade or so.
The Cougars went a few years without even fielding a football team due to lack of players, and the years they have managed to put a squad together, have not had many positive results to show for it.
But things may be on bit of an upswing for Rector in 2008.
Although their numbers are still a bit on the thin side (19 players), the Cougars managed to do something in week three of the new season that they could not accomplish all last year -- they won a game.
And they also spoiled Salem's homecoming in the process.
Playing good defense at the point of attack, Rector was able to knock off the Greyhounds 16-6 Sept. 19 in the 3-2A Conference opener for both teams.
While 16 points is not a lot of points, it was a virtual avalanche for the Cougars considering they posted just 29 points all last year, getting shutout in seven games, as Rector limped to an 0-9 mark.
And while the Hounds (0-3, 0-1) have also had trouble scoring the football this season, they opened the game against Rector (1-2, 1-0) on a mission.
Behind the running of Kyle Berry, Salem took the opening kickoff and moved all the way to the Cougars' 5-yard line on the Greyhounds' initial possession of the game.
But once there, Salem saw the Cougar defense stiffen and the Hounds were stopped on fourth-and-goal, turning the ball over to Rector.
The story was similar on the Hounds' next series.
After forcing Rector to a three-and-out, Salem started its next series on the Cougars' side of the field.
The Greyhounds made it to the Cougar 28, but once again, Rector held on fourth down and re-took possession of the football.
After a scoreless first quarter, Salem once again drove onto Rector's side of the field early in the second.
Rocky Smith hit Brandon Godfrey with a nice 14-yard pass to get the ball to the Cougars' 39-yard line.
But with 8:00 left until half, James Bradshaw picked off a Smith pass attempt, setting up Rector's first score of the evening.
Running out of their power Wishbone, the Cougars were near midfield with a third-and-5 when Salem's defense made a big play.
Michael Beck broke through the line and wrapped up Dalton Shaw short of the first down.
However, with 4:40 left until the half, Rector rolled the dice and went for a first down. This time on fourth down, Shaw got enough yards for a first down, and the Cougars kept marching.
Six plays later, Logan Buck scored on a quarterback keeper on first-and-goal from the 1. Shaw carried in the 2-point conversion to give Rector an 8-0 lead with 1:52 left until intermission.
With the score still at 8-0, Rector, deep in the third quarter, the Greyhounds put together their most impressive drive of the game.
And a big fourth-down conversion was key to that series.
Faced with a fourth-and-15 at their own 43 after an illegal procedure penalty, the Hounds showed their nerve with a trick play. Lined up in punt formation, Jason Huff took the snap and scrambled all the way to the Rector 35-yard line, giving Salem a fresh set of downs.
Turns out this was just the jump-start Salem needed.
Smith hooked up with Huff and Jones on back-to-back passes that pushed the football to the Rector 7.
After a couple of carries by Kyle Berry, Jones smashed across the goal line from three yards out on third-and-goal with 30 ticks left in the third. The 2-point try was stopped, leaving Rector with an 8-6 lead after three.
Then, with a two-point lead on their side, the Cougars did just what they needed to in the fourth.
Chewing up over six minutes on the clock to start the frame, the Cougars cashed in on fourth-and-10 with a 20-yard TD pass from Buck to Shaw. With the 2-point conversion, Rector extended its lead to 16-6 with 6:45 left to play.
Berry had peeled off a nice return on the ensuing kickoff, running the ball back to the Salem 45. A personal foul on the Cougars was tacked on, giving Salem nice field position at the Rector 39.
But the Cougars refused to budge and held the Hounds to a three-and-out, securing Rector's 10-point victory, its first win in quite a while.