The past two weeks, Williamstown's frowns have been turned upside down.
Now with one regular-season game remaining Friday against Roane County in Spencer, the Yellowjackets want to maintain those smiles by locking down a postseason bid.
Since losing consecutive games against St. Marys and Wirt County, Williamstown coach Terry Smith has noticed a considerable change in the mood within the Yellowjacket camp.
MICHAEL UHL Special to The Times
Williamstown linebacker Nick Meadows returns an interception 40 yards for the Yellowjackets’ final touchdown in last Friday’s 38-16 win at Ritchie County.
"That's why you coach and it is to see those kids - even when they are not feeling good about themselves and you see the disappointment," Smith said.
After last Friday's 38-16 win against Ritchie County in Ellenboro, Williamstown (5-4) jumped two spots to No. 17 in the Class A rankings. On that same evening in Elizabeth, Roane County (6-3) defeated Wirt County, 55-42, for its fifth victory in six games and solidified its No. 9 ranking in Class AA.
"From where we were after the Ravenswood game on Sept. 7 to where we are now is pretty remarkable," Roane County coach Paul Burdette said. "I couldn't be more prouder off what we have been able to accomplish as a team over that amount of time.
"As a coaching staff, we worked our butts off looking at who fit best where and in what scheme. It took a lot to figure out who we were. I have a hard working staff and I don't know if they like to stay late after practices, but we did."
Williamstown and Roane County have never met on the football field since the establishment of Roane County High School in 1993. As the Yellowjacket baseball coach, Smith knows his way around the campus there in Spencer. But Friday will be a whole other beast.
"Roane County played a whale of a game last week against Wirt County," Smith said. "I was impressed. Their quarterback and running backs are just super, which means their line has done real well.
"They are real athletic. You have to be if you can beat Wirt because we know first-hand what good athletes they have."
Senior running back John Ash, who rushed for 117 yards and scored four touchdowns against Wirt County, leads the Raiders with 741 yards on the ground. Lurking in the shadows is junior quarterback Hunter Bradley, who has not only rushed for 715 yards but also thrown for another 763 yards and eight TDs.
Roane County also possesses added threats in Tyler King (28 catches for 502 yards) and Luke Scott (481 yards rushing).
"Our offensive line is making us quick right now," Burdette said.
"When you can take care of the line of scrimmage and backs consistently get 4 to 5 yards a carry, then you know they are doing the right stuff."
After being held to an three-and-out on its opening series against Ritchie County, Williamstown's ground game eventually made headway and finished with 259 yards rushing. In the process, the Yellowjackets snapped a drought of 12 straight quarters where they did not score an offensive touchdown.
"Our offensive line hung in there and played well," said Smith, who expressed his gratitude to several athletic programs at Williamstown for altering their practice schedules so his team could practice indoors during this week's rainstorms.
Sophomore running back Dakota Watson continues to lead Williamstown with 667 yards yards on the ground, but junior Trace Hart (632 yards) is closing fast after his 153-yard performance against Ritchie County.
"Williamstown has a big offensive line that is physical and capable of moving people," Burdette said. "On defense, they stack the box, blitz and cause some confusion for the offensive line.
"In the end, we just have to play Raider football."