WELLSBURG - Alec Buchmelter hates losing.
So, you know the first five weeks of this high school football season has been excruciating.
"To say the least," said the three-year starter at quarterback for Brooke High School, who was behind center as a sophomore when the Bruins reached the West Virginia Class AAA state championship game.
"I had high expectations for this year of myself and our team and, hopefully, that would have trickled down to the other guys. I definitely never saw 0-5 coming.
"We had that tough loss at home by one point to Parkersburg in that first game and it was tough for us to bounce back, especially against a tough team like St. Clairsville.
"But, even at 0-5, you have to keep plugging away. I've been a quarterback long enough to know that I am a leader and if I put my head down and quit, then they quit and that's not a good example.
"This has been very frustrating. I don't think I've lost five games in a row in any sport I've played. Being the leader of the team, it's very tough when you want to lead the guys to victory and you have the components to do so. And, whenever that doesn't happen, you have to figure out why and go back at it the next week.
"You have no time to feel sorry for yourselves because no one else is feeling sorry for you. After the result of the game is over, you have to reset your mind and get ready for the next week.
"We try to go forward every week. We try to go 1-0 every week - every Friday night.
"Me and coach Blu (first-year coach Sean Blumette) talked about it numerous times about turning the season around and we got the big win at Point Pleasant on Friday."
The Bruins outscored the Big Blacks 20-6 in the second half, including a game-winning touchdown drive that culminated when the senior Buchmelter found the end zone from a yard out with 1:24 left in the game.
Point Pleasant was 4-0 and ranked No. 4 in Class AAA.
"We came back to take the lead (28-27) and then they bust a long one down to the 1 and then punch it in (for a 33-28 lead after the two-point conversion run was stuffed)," said Buchmelter. "Even then, though, I knew we were going to come back and win the game. I knew. There was no doubt in my mind. We had a big pass to Heath (Hildreth) that got us down to the 5.
"It took us four downs to get it in, but we got it in. It was a big night for us.
"For me, it was reminiscent of the GW (George Washington) game by sophomore year when we got to the semifinals after beating the No. 1 team in the state 28-21 (Brooke trialed 21-7 at halftime). I could tell Friday night, just like two years ago, that it was all shifting in the second half.
"We were pounding the ball, mixing it up, throwing it here and there. Nothing crazy. We were just taking it to them."
Buchmelter agrees with Blumette that the message being driven home by the new coach and the coaching staff has been consistent.
"Once we got the message, the problem was how to execute it and get the results we all needed and wanted," said Buchmelter. "Well, we did that in the second half Friday."
"We came out in the second half and did the same things we did in the first half, we just executed a lot better and eliminated the mistakes," said Blumette after the game. "We looked at them after the game and said, 'what did we change?' We didn't put in a new offense or defense, we just executed the plays we knew would work. The line started to come together. We ran the ball between the tackles. We ran right at them.
"There was a lot of fullback, tailback, quarterback power game. When you get your quarterback four rushing touchdowns, you are doing something right."
The Bruins have their mandated bye this week before preparing for the final four weeks of the season - at Parkersburg South, home with Weir High and John Marshall and at Morgantown.
Blumette knows having Buchmelter behind center is a blessing.
"Having Alec has been an invaluable asset to us," said the coach. "One of the things I am very thankful for is when I got hired at the board meeting, his dad was there. I came over and met him and got to meet Buc the next day. Both were on board from the start and that is one thing that has really helped this process.
"What also has made it easier is the offensive schemes we are running are not all that different from what he has run in the past, so we knew early what he is capable of doing.
"Plus, coaching at the college level (at Waynesburg), he was one of the quarterbacks on our recruiting list, so I had some familiarity with him and his abilities even before I entertained the idea of coaching here at Brooke. I knew what kind of player, what kind of quarterback I was getting.
"I have also been pleasantly surprised with what a good character guy he really is. He gets it. He's a tremendous kid. He's a good student, a good student of the game and he understands football. His knowledge and experience in the backfield as the point man in our offense has been a great help.
"We have some inexperienced players around him, but he's been the one constant on offense. When our backs are against the wall, we want the ball in his hands and let him get it done for us."
Buchmelter, now, sees only one thing.
"I know if we win these last four games we are 5-5 and there is a chance we can make the playoffs," he said. "In a way, the bye is good so we can get some guys rest and healed. We have to make a run here and I know we can make a run. We are a good team and we proved that in the second half against Point Pleasant.
"Brooke football has a lot to do with the community. We play for each other. It's always great to have the community support. But, when you're 0-5, it's tough. We still have a long way to go.
"But, we were 0-5 and beat a 4-0 team that was fourth in the state.
"That's gut-check time. We never quit and I don't plan on us quitting the rest of the year."