Dave Baker has had it good so far this high school football season. Central is 3-1 and two points from a perfect record in the Scarlet Dragons' second year with Baker at the helm.
The Dragons got a giant monkey off their backs by pounding Tyrone, 28-0, a win that looks more and more impressive each week. Meanwhile, Central is approaching a 40-point-per-game scoring clip, sparked by two of the most dynamic skill players in the area the first month of the season, running back Bradi Moore and quarterback Austin Cunningham.
The reasons Baker should feel happy don't end there, either.
"We feel that we've improved our line blocking. We've improved our ability to run the ball when it matters. We have some really good offensive linemen. We have a couple of seniors - I think [fullback-linebacker] Todd Slick especially has become a pretty good player - who show a lot of leadership. We have two tight ends that can block very well," Baker responded when asked what he likes about this team beside the obvious. "Scott Horvath has been a very good defensive lineman. Our fullbacks have been good."
It makes it hard for opponents to key on any one particular aspect of Central.
However, now the Dragons have to go up against another version of themselves. While much more nondescript, Bald Eagle Area has exhibited no real weakness and an ability to find ways to win, which has the Eagles off to their best start in 19 years at 4-0.
Central will put that to the test on Friday night at the Roaring Spring Athletic Field. Kickoff for the Mountain League clash is set for 7 p.m.
"They seem to be pretty much an all-around competent team. I don't see any 'great' things that they have, but I don't see any weaknesses that they have," Baker said of the Eagles. "They're solid on defense. They run the ball pretty well. They block OK. They can pass a little bit. They can spread the field and run the ball. They don't make many mistakes. They don't fumble the ball. There's just nothing you can put your finger on and say, 'They can't do that.'
"We are, in some ways, a lot like they are."
In the opener with Bellefonte, BEA amassed 326 yards on the ground, with Dion Barnard surpassing 100. The following game against Philipsburg-Osceola, Cole Long completed all seven of his pass attempts. Against Penns Valley, the defense forced a fumble at the 1 on the last play to preserve a one-point win.
Last week, against Chestnut Ridge, they again came up with a fumble deep in their own end in the waning moments while rushing for more than 230 yards as a team for the third time this year to fend off the visiting Lions' upset bid.
"These kids are confident in what they do. One of the things they wanted to focus on was doing the little things and keeping a positive attitude and not giving up during a game if something goes bad or [losing concentration] if something goes well," Eagles coach Jack Tobias said. "This group of guys, they don't quit."
Barnard leads the Eagles with 430 yards on the ground, but BEA also has come up with nine more turnovers than it has given up.
This is the beginning of an important stretch of game for the Eagles, who face Tyrone and Clearfield in two of the next three weeks after playing Central. BEA has had little luck with any of those teams historically, especially in the last roughly two decades since Gawen Stoker moved on as the team's coach - the Eagles only have won one of the last seven meetings with the Dragons, and that result in 2007 later was overturned because BEA had an ineligible player.
Tobias, though, thinks this is a different situation.
"With this group of kids, I don't think that's a big issue," Tobias said of the past. "These kids know we can only control what we do on the field and that, if we take care of our responsibilities, that's how good things will happen."
On Friday, a big part of that will revolve around containing Moore and Cunningham, who have combined for 562 yards on the ground, 473 receiving and 669 passing while scoring 18 total touchdowns.
"They have a very physical offensive and defensive line, and we need to come out and play hard," Tobias said. "It's going to be a physical battle, and I think the team that comes out on top is going to be the one that wins that battle up front."
Baker feels BEA presents a test to keep Central's good times rolling.
"It's not hard to prepare for them, but it's hard to beat them," Baker said. "You're going to pretty much have to stop everything that they do. You can't identify just one thing."