When a program has struggled for an extended period of time, there are only so many times minor successes can be framed as "moral victories."
Actual victories are what make a turnaround season.
On Thursday night the Niwot Cougars, a team that posted a 10-59 record from 2009-15, claimed a season-opening 34-14 victory over Adams City. After enduring such a lengthy period of meager accomplishment, winning the first game in 2016 may have been just what the Cougars needed to get things going in the right direction.
"I think there's two parts to it," Cougars coach Dylan Hollingsworth said. "One is that we were down by one at halftime even though we felt like we had controlled the game in the first half. We just had two fumbles that hurt us. I was nervous because you don't know how your kids are going to respond because of the history. But we came out and got two stops and two touchdowns to start the second half. That was what kind of put it away.
"The second piece of the opening win is that it's a small step in the whole process. We don't want to get too excited about this first win because if you win the first one and lose the next nine, then what's the point? You learn the most about your team from the first week to the second so we're going to move forward and keep working to get better."
Thursday's win marked the first time Niwot won its season opener since 2013. The Cougars snapped a 25-month losing streak on Oct. 30 of last year and are now 2-1 in their last three games dating back to the 2015 season.
Against Adams City, the Cougars controlled the ground game. The defense was solid except for two big passing plays. Most importantly, the players didn't give in when things weren't going well and they were rewarded with a much-needed moral boost as they attempt to win more than two games in a season for the first time since 2008.
"The players are believing in themselves," Hollingsworth said. "From a coaching perspective, that's what you want to see."
The Cougars will try to keep rolling next week when they travel to face Summit (1-0), a team that Hollingsworth coached for 10 seasons before coming to Niwot.
Niwot is just one of several programs in the BoCoPreps.com area that is hitting the reset button after a disappointing 2015 campaign, including Frederick (0-10 last year), Lyons (1-8), Monarch (2-8), Silver Creek (3-7) and Skyline (2-8).
So far in 2016, they're all undefeated.
Monarch and Silver Creek both won their out-of-state season openers in Florida. Frederick snapped an 11-game losing streak with a Week 1 win over Fort Lupton. Skyline beat visiting Golden. Lyons crushed Dolores Huerta on the road.
With so many programs looking to turn things around, most of their early results have been encouraging and hopefully have set the tone for their bounce-back aspirations in 2016.
Niwot vs. Adams City scoring summary:
Niwot 34, Adams City 14
At Everly-Montgomery FieldAdams City (0-1) 0 14 0 0 — 14
Niwot — Jeremy Hollingsworth 1 run (E. Olivas kick).
Adams City — Jahvell Johnson 27 pass from Liban Shongolo (2-point Carlos Barrea). Adams City — Johnson 66 pass from Shongolo (conversion missed). Niwot — Jeremy Hollingsworth 4 run (conversion missed).
Niwot — Anton Sandoval 77 run (Baun run). Niwot — Hollingsworth 6 run (conversion missed).
Niwot — Hollingsworth 2 run (E. Olivas kick).