SALEM - A record isn't just the lone measuring stick for a football team. Take the Alliance Aviators, who came into Reilly Stadium last week with an 0-7 record, but left with a 44-14 victory.
For the Quakers and new head coach Ron Johnson, 2012 has been a work in progress. But the growth of his team shouldn't be judged on solely their record.
"We've had a good week of practice so far," Johnson said. "It's been as good a week of practice on both sides of the ball as we've had all year," Johnson said.
With a Minerva team coming into this week's game with a 2-5 record overall, 1-3 in Northeastern Buckeye Conference play, the Quakers still have their work cut out for them.
"They're still the defending league champs until someone takes that off of them," Johnson said. "They have a quarterback who's going to Air Force. They're a spread team that's going to throw it around a bunch with a very short, controlled passing game."
One of those wins for Minerva came against the Canton South Wildcats, who beat Salem 46-15 in week six. Minerva's Jake Reilly ran for two touchdowns and threw for another in the upset victory that handed Canton South its lone loss of the season.
"They can also throw it overtop of you down the field if you bite up too much," Jonson continued.
Defensively, the Quakers will be up against a similar front, a three-stack, with a second safety over the top.
"It just takes some things down the field away," Johnson said. "They stay overtop of everything with two safeties. It forces us to change our attack a bit so we don't try and square peg it into something that's not there."
The Lions, however, could be without Reilly for the second straight week as he missed last Friday night's contest with an injury. The signal caller has been at practice all week and could take the field when the Quakers come calling Friday night.
Regardless of who lines up under center, Johnson doesn't expect much to change in terms of offensive play calling.
"His brother is the backup quarterback," Johnson said. "Watching the Marlington film they pretty much did the same thing as they had done before. He may not throw it down the field as well but they still ran the same routes, same concepts."
Minerva was stymied last week in a 27-10 loss to the Marlington Dukes, who were also missing someone with an injury in standout running back Dymonte Thomas. Minerva's offense was limited against the tough defense of the Dukes, and finished the game with just twelve yards on 23 carries.
Last week the Quakers dug themselves into an early hole, giving up 19 first quarter points to an Alliance team that was better than their record indicated. The Quakers were bitten by costly turnovers that gave the Aviator defense two scores of its own.
Offensively, the Quakers struggled to develop any consistency and had an early score wiped off of the board due to a costly penalty.
Scoring early is something that the Quakers are keen on doing, but finishing a 48-minute game is something that Coach Johnson and his players are more intent on.
"Anytime you can score first it gives you a little momentum," Johnson said. "We have to make sure that we stay locked in. It's certainly nice to get a great start in the first quarter, but we've got to play the whole game."
Another opportunity comes knocking on Friday night in Minerva.
"We're cleaning up some things. The more time that we spend together the better that we're going to be."
The Quakers and Lions kick off at 7 p.m. Friday.