ONA, W.Va. -- Oh, how the times have changed for the Cabell Midland football team - quickly and drastically - for the better.
Just two years ago, this time, the Knights sat at home following a 3-7 finish in former Coach Chip McMillian's final season. This fall, Midland's season is just starting, and many give Coach Luke Salmons the credit.
"He's amazing," senior running back Lowell Farley said.
The coaching transition wasn't easy on the players, Farley said, but Salmons quickly won the team with his ability to encourage the Knights to find greater success from within.
"I was questionable when he first came in," Farley said. "We started working out, we were like 'Gosh, this guy is serious. He's killing us out there.'
"We knew when we started working hard we could do something, because everybody was putting forth effort that we weren't before. We knew we could do something. For how hard we worked for, we figured we might as well make something out of it, and he put us in that position."
After starting 0-2 last season, Midland rebounded to finish 8-4 and head into 2012 with plenty of optimism.
Salmons, this year, directed the Knights to the program's first 10-0 season, first Mountain State Athletic Conference championship and first No. 1 playoff seed in school history. Midland will open the playoffs to play host to No. 16 Oak Hill.
Like many successful coaches, Salmons credited the team's mindset and effort for the uptick.
"Work," Salmons said. "We work our freaking tails off. They believe in the program and we're a team. That's how we win. At certain positions, we're not overly athletic, so it's a team concept.
"We might have to win 14-13 sometimes, so we're going to be physical and we're going to play hard and we're going be tough, and that's who we got to be at Cabell Midland. That's what type of kids we got, and that's what makes it good."