Except maybe in Ragland.
With a trophy case as proof, the small St. Clair County public school seems to have it figured out — with all its athletes.
Ragland’s softball team is the two-time defending state champion. And last season its girls’ basketball team reached the state semifinals, and the baseball team made the quarterfinals.
Now the football team is taking its turn.
They take on Marion County on Friday for a berth to the Super Six, the AHSAA state championship.
So, how do they do it? Football coach Brian Mintz revealed the formula in two equal parts.
“The first thing is, and I’m not saying this about myself, we’ve got a lot of sound coaches,” he said. “ … We’ve also got a talented group of kids that’s huddled together and worked hard.
“They enjoy competition.”
The No. 3 Purple Devils are one of six remaining undefeated teams, and they began that dominant run by running the table for the Region 6 title. Then they downed previously unbeaten Collinsville 12-7 on the road to finish the regular season 10-0.
In the first two rounds of the playoffs, they defeated Gaylesville and No. 10 Berry. Last week, they dominated No. 7 Collinsville, winning 28-7 in a rematch at Joan Ford Field.
Being one win away from a shot at a state title didn’t happen overnight. It started in 2009 when they made the playoffs despite a losing record, and they’ve gotten consistently better since.
“Their hard work is coming to fruition,” Brian Mintz said. “These guys have worked to become successful. They’re a great group of guys.”
Senior quarterback Scotty Smith leads Ragland’s offense. He’s completed 57 of 117 passing attempts for 1,138 yards, 17 touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back Nick Daniels leads the team with 1,036 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns on 111 carries.
Devane Brewster 854 yards on 114 attempts and 11 touchdowns.
Wide receiver combination Jimmy Brock and Kijana Lindsay have combined for close to 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns.
All the production is made possible by and offensive line which includes Matt Hicks, Cole Bearden, Shelton Carter, Sawyer Merritt and Dakota Campbell.
“But defense is your identity,” Mintz said.
And that’s where this year’s team has earned its reputation — and lived up to every bit of it against Berry, a team that came into the game with a 2,000-yard rusher and passer.
Ragland held Berry to its lowest point total of the season by nearly 20 points in a 51-21 win.
Bearden leads the defense with 78 tackles and 3.5 sacks alongside partner in crime defensive tackle John Mark Mintz. Brock has a team high six interceptions.
They’ll be pitted against another high-powered offense when they travel to Marion County. Marion County, which runs the Wing-T, has a pair of 1,000-plus yard rushers.
But like they’ve been all season they’ll be up for the challenge, especially with a shot to play for the state title on the line.
And whether they accomplish it or not, they’ll move on to the next sport — basketball — to try and do the same.
“For a 1A school, we’ve got a great run of athletes,” said Rush Rutledge, a football and softball assistant and girls basketball coach. “When you’re winning it kind of tapers from one sport to the next.
“ … Winning is contagious.”
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.