Most casual high school fans know little about Meadowcreek other than the lopsided scores they see.
There have been some rough Mustang losses this season (71-6 vs. North Gwinnett, 59-0 vs. Mill Creek, 55-6 vs. Peachtree Ridge) and some that were a little closer (26-0 vs. Wheeler, 31-8 vs. Berkmar). Just last week, they hung close with Duluth for awhile before falling 30-0.
Those results bring the usual reaction when I'm out at other schools --same old Meadowcreek.
But here's the thing. It's not the same at all.
Deario Grimmage is making positive strides at the Norcross school, slowly bringing change to a program that is saddled with a current 35-game losing streak that dates back to 2008.
"The players are staying positive," said Grimmage, in his second season as head coach. "I'm making a conscious effort of doing things the right way."
Little things that go unnoticed by most are positive signs for Grimmage. Fewer penalties and mistakes. Fewer turnovers.
The improvements aren't overlooked by opposing coaches, who have praised Grimmage and his coaches regularly this season for their team's work ethic. No matter the score, the Mustangs keep fighting.
From Mill Creek head coach Shannon Jarvis after the Meadowcreek win: "These (Meadowcreek) kids played their tails off the entire game. They played their hearts out. People who don't see them play and just see a score in the paper have no idea how hard these kids play."
From North head coach Bob Sphire after beating Meadowcreek: "I want everyone to know (Meadowcreek's) kids played hard and had a good attitude."
It all goes back to the encouragement and energy brought by Grimmage, a young assistant who is dedicated to turning the Mustangs around. He's 0-17 as a head coach, but refuses to be discouraged.
He also wants to be a pillar of stability in a place that deeply needs it. Meadowcreek, with its transient and diverse population that knows soccer better than football, went through three head football coaches in the three seasons before he was hired and only one coach in school history (Kevin Maloof from 1986-1990) has lasted five seasons.
"I'm not going to be one of those guys (to bail out on Meadowcreek)," Grimmage said. "I'm staying here."
For all his moral victories so far, the coach isn't satisfied. He wants victories on the scoreboard, not for himself as much for his players. He wants to see the smiles on their faces.
It's tough to get those wins in tough Region 7-AAAAA, one of the state's best for football, but the Mustangs are trying their hardest.
Even if nobody notices.
"They need wins," Grimmage said. "We're taking that challenge on as men. We want to win games."
Will Hammock can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His regular column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, visit www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.