Despair. Misery. Heartache. Depression. All of those words could describe the state of the Warren G. Harding football program after last year's 2-8 season.
It desperately needed a makeover. The mass chaos that surrounded the then dysfunctional team needed to change.
There were many factors that led to downward spiral in the 2011 season, which should be long forgotten in WGH history.
Enter Steve Arnold, who has been the Raiders boys basketball coach for more than a decade - mentoring many young men in his reign and taking the hardwood warriors to the Division I state Final Four a couple of years ago.
WGH shifted Arnold's responsibility to his roots this season - the gridiron.
The level of respect Arnold commands through those athletes walking the hallways at Warren G. Harding High School is tremendous. It is that kind of respect the Raiders need to get back to being one of the best teams in the state.
Harding has gone 2-1 - convincingly beating Howland and silencing the defending Division III state champion Cardinal Mooney. The only loss on the docket for WGH is a Week 1 loss to Austintown Fitch, which blasted a good Brunswick team.
It's all about respect for this year's Harding team that hosts Maple Heights (2-1) in a key Lake Erie League matchup tonight at Mollenkopf Stadium.
Arnold garnered that respect in January with a new group of athletes and it has grown ever since.
"He's a tough coach," WGH Lamar Carmichael said. "Everything he says, we trust in him to do - following his lead so far."
It's way different than last year.
"Everything is more serious from everywhere, from the standpoint of the seniors to the juniors to the sophomores. Everybody's serious," Carmichael said. "He's like a father figure out here, showing what's right from wrong."
Don't think only discipline equates wins, but it sure does help.
"They're received it very well," Arnold said. "Nothing is perfect. When I talked to the kids about being on time back in January, that builds character. You talk about discipline. It's about doing the right thing when nobody is watching.
"All those things we were building so it makes it easier to coach now."
Harding has to prepare for a Maple Heights team led by former Painesville Harvey quarterback Kaleb Coffee, whose transfer was recently approved by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Coffee rejoined his coach Devin Culliver, who is in his first year at Maple Heights after coming over from Harvey. Coffee was 18 of 25 for 191 yards and a touchdown in the Mustangs' first loss against Chardon.
"Maple Heights and the LEL bring a different kind of challenge," Arnold said. "Where Fitch, Howland and Mooney are more power type teams, pretty much everybody in the LEL they're spread, no huddle. They got a lot of athletes they put on the field. So, it presents a different type of challenge for us.
"Maple's quarterback is awesome, has a rifle for an arm. They have a 6-foot-4 receiver (Cliff Garner). They have some athletes that are going to spread the field. Basically, what they say is, 'Our athletes are better than yours and we're going to make more plays.' As a coach, that scares me a little bit."
Don't think Arnold will be scared about their eventual destiny - the quest to get back to football glory.
"It's a process," Arnold said. "They've been tremendous. The staff has been tremendous in helping me implement the things I want to implement in this program. We have to keep it going."
If the Raiders do, they might be back in the postseason for the first time since the 2010 season.
"We mean business," Carmichael said. "Now it's time to pick it up. We got to get to the playoffs, show we're bringing Warren back."
And, that 2011 season is quickly becoming a distant memory.