It's not how you start. It's how you finish.

Everybody's 0-0 once district starts.

It's a whole new season.

You can list every cliche in the book that describes Texas high school football once district play comes. And as cliche the sayings sound, they're completely true.

Just ask Pine Tree.

The Pirates went 0-4 in a tough non-district schedule against teams such as Henderson, Kilgore, Pittsburg and Jacksonville. But when it mattered, Pine Tree started just like it wanted to.

"Getting a district win is always huge," said Pine Tree coach Kerry Lane, whose team is coming off a thrilling 55-47 win over Sulphur Springs in their District 16-5A opener last Friday night. "I knew we were better than we were last year. The first two games we came up a little short then had tough games against Kilgore and Henderson. It showed up on the scoreboard last week."

Pine Tree (1-4) scored 28 points in a wild fourth quarter after being down 32-27. Quarterback Wade Seidel threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns, including a 27-yarder to Ja'Von Coleman to give the Pirates the lead for good.

"What we did finally last week was just cut it loose and play," Lane said. "I told them to play reckless and if they make a mistake, make it a big mistake. What I wanted to do was see them play all out with a huge amount of passion and energy and they did that."

The goal now? Keep getting better, keep playing with passion and work toward a playoff berth, Lane said.

"We have this quote: 'A coward dies a thousand times in his life, but the valiant takes death once.' If we're going to go down, let's go down swinging," Lane said. "Our team goal is to make the playoffs, which hasn't been done here since 2001. And we think it's attainable. We want to take the next step, which is continue to get better and get wins."

Lane is no stranger to winning. He helped Gilmer win a state championship in 2014 as the team's passing game coordinator and receivers coach. He took over a program that hasn't seen a winning season since 2002, but is looking to change the vibe and culture.

"We're making an effort to change things around here. I think any time you put in the work with the kids, they'll put the work back in. And that's what we're asking them to do," Lane said. "Pulling out a hard, tough game last week against a good team was huge for our team. It showed the benefits of hard work, and now we can build on that."

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