The rise of the Dublin football program isn’t something that was achieved the easy way. Head Coach Bob Cervetto has helped propel the Lions to back-to-back bi-district championships through hard work and testing his team every single week of the season.

That was evident when he followed up the annual area rivalry game against Hico with reigning state 2A finalist Albany.

The Lions may not have managed to leave Albany with a win last Friday night, but there were positives to build upon.

“One of the biggest reasons we play good people is because fundamentally we learn that you can’t make little mistakes and expect to win. Teams like Albany will expose those weaknesses, but you learn from them,” said Cervetto.

“We could have easily played someone of lesser talent and been 2-0 at this point, but we wouldn’t be preparing for our tough district this season. Our kids gave great effort all night and we could have laid down and rolled over in the second half, but we actually went out there and outscored them 8-6 over the last two quarters. That gave us some confidence and we’re building on that.”

Standing in the way of Dublin in week three is another team that found itself in the preseason rankings. Teague (3A, Division I) was placed in the No. 11 spot in Dave Campbell’s Texas High School Football magazine and could be one of the toughest teams the Lions face this season.

To raise the already high stakes for both teams, the game is also being played at a neutral site at Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton.

“It’s a big game and we’re just trying to keep getting better. We want to be more consistent with what it is that we do, but this is a big one,” Cervetto said.

“Teague is a really good team and this has the makings to be a big game.”

Teague, who is also the Lions (the second straight Lions Dublin has played, including Albany), enters the game with a 1-1 record coming off of a loss to Mexia (4A).

Cervetto’s team comes in with an 0-2 record still searching for their first win of the year. Regardless of if they capture it, games like Friday’s are just building towards the bigger picture in the second half of the season.

“We have gotten better in each of our first two games and we’re starting to see the level that we have to play to get back to the post-season,” he said.

“Our district is very tough this year. We have Cisco and Coleman who began the season ranked and then Eastland and Coleman who are also both really good teams. In order for us to understand how well we’re going to have to play to get out of that district we have to test ourselves in non-district. Playing a few less strong teams and having a nice record isn’t going to help us later in the season.”

The continued progression for Dublin is something that’s keeping the team going despite their record. Cervetto says that they’re staying positive and are preparing for every game knowing what’s at stake. This week, the formula to win is easy to say, but likely a lot tougher to put into action.

“We need to take care of the football and we need to get some drives going and tackle well. We did really well against Albany in the second half doing both of those things. If we can put together a full two halves of football I like our chances,” Cervetto said.

Dublin and Teague are scheduled to kick-off at 7:30 p.m. Friday night in Belton at Mary Hardin Baylor’s Crusader Stadium.