There’s a sheet of paper that Lumpkin County football coach Tommy Jones keeps with him whenever he’s interacting with his team.
Typed on the sheet are 10 core values Jones deems imperative to the Indians’ success; No. 1 being "Success is a journey."
For the Indians, that journey begins with summer workouts.
"Summer is an extremely important part of any football program," Jones said. "It’s where people make commitments, it’s where they buy in, and it’s where they begin to believe that hard work will pay off.
"The summer is an invaluable part of our season."
Beginning when school ended, the Indians worked for three hours in the morning, three times a week on fundamentals, strength and conditioning.
They spent a couple of hours each Tuesday night in passing leagues, and the linemen spent countless hours on the turf at Indians Stadium working on their own particular techniques.
"We don’t do anything that’s much different from what everyone else is doing," Jones said.
Considering, however, that his Indians play in what Jones believes is one of the state’s most talented and competitive regions, doing what everyone else is doing is the way he hopes his team will be able to keep up with the neighbors.
"We know those teams (we play) are working hard," Jones said. "It challenges us to not be sleeping and to make sure we are trying to work as hard.
"We are challenged and uplifted by the work ethics of our opponents."
The Indians are coming off a 4-6 season and looking to, at the very least, get back to the .500 mark accomplished in 2007.
With that in mind, Lumpkin County played against the likes of Camden County, Mill Creek, Peachtree Ridge and Cedar Shoals at the West Georgia College Southeastern Defensive Camp.
"Hopefully, the experience gave our kids the confidence of knowing that they can compete against some of the best in the state," Jones said. "We constantly evaluated our kids to see who would be able to step up and that’s made more evident when you’re playing against top competition."
As tiresome and structured as the Indians offseason workouts seemingly were, Jones said that making sure the team was having fun was imperative.
"We told them from the get-go that they are going to work harder than they ever have, and they have," Jones said.
And a big part of that for the Indians was the comraderie built while working hard together.
"Any time players are making a sacrifice — which summer workouts are in any program — it draws them closer together," Jones said. "You want to push your kids to a point where they don’t think they can go further. The fun comes when they do go further for each other, when they do endure.
"The offseason is an incredible means of gaining respect for one another in a unique way."