One team picked up its first win of the season two weeks ago and one team lost its star quarterback before district play began.
Yet in Week 7 of the high school football season, against all odds, Harker Heights and Temple are tied with Belton for second place in District 8-5A behind 3-0 Waco Midway.
Plenty can change in the next four weeks before playoff teams are decided, especially considering neither Temple nor Heights has played Copperas Cove.
The Bulldawgs sit at 1-2 in District 8-5A but showed in Week 6 they will have a final say in how the district pans out when they erased a 21-point deficit and nearly defeated Midway, ultimately falling in overtime.
But the Knights and the Wildcats both showed Friday they need not be taken for granted either in this 8-5A race, the benefit of the doubt that neither team may have been given as recently as two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago, Heights was coming off a disappointing district-opening loss to Belton, in which it surrendered a double-digit second-half lead for the second time in the young season.
The loss dropped the Knights to 0-4 on the season with a hot Killeen team awaiting them in the second week of district play.
But Heights has responded to coach Jerry Edwards’ new emphasis on finishing, and against Ellison on Friday, it hardly looked anything like a team that started 0-4.
The Knights were not only impressive on both sides of the ball but showed depth as standout running back Marcus Anderson II was hampered by a lower-leg injury.
His replacement, Damaria Moon, averaged more than 10 yards a carry and scored two touchdowns as he topped 100 yards on the ground to help the Knights coast to victory.
The defense has clearly put the 0-4 start behind it as well, as it held Ellison to just one score after the 8:24 mark in the second quarter, when Ellison went up 14-10 in the game.
Temple, of course, is no stranger to adversity either after losing quarterback and Baylor commit Chad President to a torn ACL on the first play of the Wildcats’ non-district finale against Southlake Carroll.
Yet Temple responded by defeating an improved Shoemaker team in its district opener. Last week, the Wildcats blasted previously unbeaten Belton after losing a shootout to Midway.
Temple now gets Ellison, and Heights faces Shoemaker, before the teams square off at Leo Buckley Stadium.
Both teams have a chance to firmly plant themselves near the top of the district during that span. With a stiff schedule to end the season, getting a leg up may be more of a necessity than a luxury for both teams.
Not that Heights or Temple hasn’t already proven it can handle adversity. Both had chances to fold early in the district race and didn’t.
Now, they find themselves on the upswing of an up and down district, only this time, they’re both looking to stay there.