It's now how you start, but how you finish — but the middle can play a big part too.
Just ask Robert E. Lee (3-3, 0-2 in District 12-5A), which has outscored opponents in the first, third and fourth quarters of games.
The second quarter?
Well, that has been a bit of a disaster.
REL has been outscored 97-45 once the second frame begins. Most of REL's turnovers have also occurred in the second quarter.
In district play, it has been even more evident. Lee was outscored 31-14 against Mesquite Horn in the second frame of its district opening loss and 14-3 two weeks ago in a loss to North Mesquite.
It hasn't escaped the attention of head coach Darrell Piske.
"We just have got find a way to overcome that second quarter," Piske said. "Whether we call stuff differently or do things differently, we need to survive the second quarter. If we can do that we've shown that we can battle for the (second half).
"We just have to alleviate that one point in the game which usually lasts for several series where we shoot ourselves in the foot, make mistakes, blow assignments and things like that."
The Red Raiders look to turn around their second quarter doldrums and overall district outlook Friday with a trip to Rockwall. Kickoff between Lee and Rockwall (3-4, 1-2) is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Wilkerson-Sanders Memorial Stadium.
While Lee was idle last week the Yellowjackets lost to North Mesquite and have been outscored 91-42 in their last two games after defeating Rockwall-Heath in their league opener.
Lee sophomore quarterback Zach Hall was held to 31 yards on 21 attempts after he averaging 109 yards in the five games prior. Piske said a lot of that has to do with a hip problem Hall is playing with. Piske said senior Raleigh Poster showed he can he lead the offense too if Hall is forced to miss a series or two.
"Zach got hurt in the Horn game, and really after he got hurt, he's still been able to make a few runs," Piske said. "They really can't take him away, it's just a matter of him being 100 percent healthy. Against North Mesquite, they didn't shut him down it was just his touchdown runs became 12 and 15-yard runs where typically he would've broken for a score.
"If he's not (healthy) then we've adjusted with Raleigh in the game and will be able to go with Raleigh. Really we want to open it up and get it to our guys on the outside."
Against the Stallions, Rockwall surrendered 424 yards rushing to the Stallions and fell behind 28-3 at halftime before ultimately succumbing 42-10.
Piske said Rockwall were dealt a similar fate as REL when it lost to North Mesquite, as the Yellowjackets scored a TD in the third quarter to cut its deficit to 28-10, but were immediately answered with a North Mesquite score to put the game away.
Lee nearly rallied from a two-touchdown deficit, cutting its deficit to one point, only to have North Mesquite respond with two unanswered TDs.
This was not the district start Piske and Co. envisioned when REL ended pre-district play with a 3-1 record, but the coach is quick to point out that all it takes are "W's" to turn it all back in the Red Raiders' favor.
"Every goal we've set for the year is still attainable," Piske said. "We can still get in the playoffs; we could still win a state championship. The (two losses) doesn't mean the season is over.
"What they have to commit to is playing a solid football game for four quarters. Not throw a couple of good quarters in and a couple bad quarters in. Play four good quarters."
Robert E. Lee at Rockwall
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Wilkerson-Sanders Memorial Stadium, Rockwall
Radio: ESPN 92.1 FM, Tyler
Records: Robert E. Lee (3-3, 0-2 in District 12-5A); Rockwall (3-4, 1-3 in District 12-5A)
Last Week's Result: Robert E. Lee idle; North Mesquite 42, Rockwall 10
2012 Result: Rockwall 40, Robert E. Lee 0
All-Time Series: Yellowjackets lead 2-1
Players to Watch: Robert E. Lee — QB Zach Hall (5-10, 155, Soph.), QB Raleigh Poster (6-2, 202, Sr.), WR Averi Clewis (6-0, 148, Sr.), CB Patrick Udofia (5-10, 165, Jr.). Rockwall—QB Will Reed (5-11, 170, Soph.), WR Xavier Castille (5-10, 195, Jr.), RB Tamba Juanah (5-9, 185, Soph.), DB Tamba Juanah.
Quick Slant: Robert E. Lee has dealt with injury woes this year with a nagging hip problem continuing to hamper sophomore quarterback Zach Hall. Hall is expected to start, but don't be surprised to see senior Raleigh Poster get snaps as well. In relief of Hall two weeks ago against North Mesquite, Poster drove the Red Raiders with pinpoint passes to score a touchdown. Hall enters with 577 yards rushing and six touchdowns with 697 yards through the air and 5 TDs. Poster has 159 yards and 2 TDs.
Rockwall was a potential district favorite entering the season, but a season-ending injury suffered by running back Chris Warren (747 yards, 11 TDs) derailed those plans. Tamba Juanah, the Yellowjackets top defensive back, has moved into the backfield and thus far has rushed 62 times for 373 yards and four touchdowns. The Yellowjackets also possess a potent passing game with Will Reed (1,057 yards, 12 TDs) and the district's leading receiver Xavier Castille (42-618, 8 TDs).
Quotable: "We just work it every day," Piske said about Lee giving up a district-leading 1,382 yards passing. "For a while now every day we do 1 on 1 stuff playing the fade ball, we run pass scale against them and stuff like that to try and continue to improve."
Next Up: Mesquite at Robert E. Lee, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25; Rockwall idle.
Stadium Address: Wilkerson-Sanders Memorial Stadium (8,330) 1435 R.L. Townsend Drive, Rockwall, TX.