From weightlifting and conditioning sessions in January to spring practice to fall camp to the early season. All were steps to the next six weeks which will determine whether Cumberland's season is deemed a success.
Though the Phoenix have a Mid-South Conference Bluegrass Division win in hand over Thomas More last month, the meat of the schedule is the final six games which begin with today's 1:30 p.m. game in Columbia, Ky., against No. 10 Lindsey Wilson.
"The season starts this week as far as winning the conference," said Cumberland coach Tim Mathis, whose Phoenix are 3-1 for the season coming out of their bye week, which followed their loss.
And the thickest of the meat of the schedule will be the next three weeks as the Blue Raiders will be followed by No. 11 Cumberlands and No. 23 Bethel.
"We're ready to get back and take on the challenge of the next three weeks," Mathis said. "We're fixing to face three good games."
Lindsey Wilson is rolling right along at 5-4 for the season and 2-0 in the division. The then-No. 4 Blue Raiders lost to Cumberland 24-21 at Nokes-Lasater Field last year.
"Last year we were able to line up and run right at them and give them everything they didn't want," Mathis said. "We got to do it again.
"I'm sure they got us circled after we took them out to the woodshed last year. They're not going to take us lightly."
Mathis said Lindsey Wilson runs a spread offense and likes to run in addition to pass.
"They're are going to run the ball, but they're a traditional spread team," Mathis said.
Quarterback Cameron Dukes has completed 87 of 144 passes for 1,298 yards and 16 touchdowns to go with five interceptions. Mathis was especially impressed with running back Jaylen Boyd, who has rushed for 424 net yards (he's had only 3 negative yards all season) on 51 carries with three scores. Mathis said he can't be specific about injuries, but noted the off week helped the Phoenix.
"This past week really helped us get some guys who had some bumps and bruises healthy," Mathis said. "We should be good to go."