WORCESTER — Paul Lepre could relate, even sympathize.
Shortly after Lepre's Methacton High football team blanked Norristown, 21-0, Saturday to finalize the Eagles winless season, Lepre motioned to the Norristown sidelines.
"That's a quality team over there,' Lepre said of Norristown, "and I know how tough that can be.'
Lepre knows the feeling that was grinding in the stomachs of the Eagles players and coaches because it wasn't that long ago that the Warriors were experiencing the same gut-wrenching scenario.
From Oct. 30, 2004 to the season opener of the 2007 season, Methacton's football team did not win a game — a losing streak that ran 25 excruciating games.
Lepre was a part of the Warriors coaching staff when the program endured those trying times, assisting under George Marinkov when Methacton dropped the first 14 games of the streak.
More importantly, he can remember what it took to dig out of the rubble that piles on top of a program that can't seem to win a football game.
"I don't like to reflect back on that,' Lepre said. "If we did mention it to the players, we'd talk about the positive things from past teams.
"I've always felt Methacton has been blessed with good coaches, and all they needed were some pieces to help it win. The guys here, this senior class, gave us those pieces.'
While the long Warriors streak came to an end early in 2007, the program was still not fully back on its feet in the couple of seasons that followed. In 2009, in fact, the Warriors won just one of 11 games, while 2010 ended with a pedestrian 4-7 mark.
But it was this season's Warriors senior class that began the turnaround, posting a 6-5 mark in each of the last two seasons before hitting the seven-win mark this year.
And they did it, Lepre said, the old-fashioned way.
"I have to credit the kids,' Lepre said. "They've been able to come out here and work every day. They were able to take it one practice and one game at a time.
"At the start of a season, you can't look at what you can be. You can only come out, work hard and try to get better a day at a time. That's what these guys have done.'
Not surprisingly, of the four teams that defeated the Warriors this year, Bayard Rustin was the No. 2 seed in the District One Class AAAA playoff field, while the remaining three schools — all from the Pioneer Athletic Conference — all remain alive after the first weekend of district action (Perkiomen Valley, ironically, upset Rustin in Round One).
In stretching Norristown's agony, the Warriors played with the same demeanor they have exhibited all season.
"It was very workman-like,' said senior linebacker Devin Bradley. "We didn't look at (Norristown) as a winless team. We just came out and did what we do.
"We took it play by play, and executed.'
The Warriors didn't bolt out of the gate. In fact, the Warriors went three-and-out on their first possession.
But after Methacton put the skids to the Eagles' second series, quarterback Conner Derrickson and Co. went 54 yards on six plays, with Derrickson tossing an 8-yard scoring pass to Dillon Alderfer to put the Warriors on top just 1:23 into the second quarter.
More of the same followed on their next possession with the Warriors covering 65 yards on 10 plays to double their advantage. A pair of Derrickson's passes keyed the drive — the first a 10-yard strike to Alderfer, the second a 17-yard hookup with Kyle Lowery, who made a terrific fingertip grab.
Michael Cassidy polished it off with a 5-yard touchdown. And the Warriors were comfortably in front the rest of the way.
By game's end, the Eagles offense had crossed midfield just twice all day. And even after maneuvering inside the Methacton 5-yard line midway through the fourth quarter, it was turned away when Akeem Walcott and Tajar Ferradji ganged up to stop Norristown quarterback Rashon Lusane on fourth-and-short.
After the Warriors players honored their seniors following the game, Bradley was quick to recall a season that solidified the Warriors as a program looking toward a bright future instead of one recalling a bleak recent past.
"I feel this was a very successful season,' Bradley said. "I'm very proud to be a member of this team.
"And with the sophomore and junior classes we have coming up, I think they'll be able to punch us into the playoffs.'
METHACTON 21, NORRISTOWN 0
Norristown 0 0 0 0 - 0
Methacton 0 14 7 0 - 21
M - Alderfer 8 pass from Derrickson, (LeSage kick)
M - Cassidy 5 run (LeSage kick)
M - Cassidy 1 run (LeSage kick)
First Downs 9 16
Rushing Yards 37-104 35-170
Passing Yards 39 73
Totals Yards 143 243
Passing 4-8-0 6-9-0
Penalties 7-65 2-10
Fumbles lost 4-1 1-1
Punts-Avg. 4-31.8 2-49.5
RUSHING – NORRISTOWN: Lusane 17-68; Patten 16-21; Carter 3-13; D.Cross 1-2. METHACTON: Cassidy 16-73, 2 TDs; Derrickson 11-52; Walcott 5-23; Cotteta 1-10; Torcini 1-6; Lowery 1-6.
PASSING – NORRISTOWN: Lusane 4-8-0 ints., 39 yds; Hammer 0-1-0 ints. METHACTON: Derrickson 6-9-0 ints., 73 yds., 1 TD.
RECEIVING –NORRISTOWN: Perry 2-29; Patten 2-10. METHACTON: Alderfer 3-26, 1 TD; Lowery 2-31; Cassidy 1-16.
INTERCEPTIONS – NORRISTOWN: None. METHACTON: None.
SACKS – NORRISTOWN: T.Perry. METHACTON: Torcini.