That's walking in tall cotton for a program which was winless a year ago, and it will have to be done in the face of the typical distractions of Homecoming.
"The focus for this week is focus," declared MHS head coach Jon Stockman. "Put all the Homecoming stuff aside, because without the football game there wouldn't be a Homecoming."
Or at least not a happy one. The Owls host a Fulton club which is desperate for a victory, having taken a 13-12 lead into halftime against Moberly last week before dropping a 26-13 NCMC decision.
"They're real hungry for a win," Stockman acknowledged. "They've got some skilled kids."
Among them is power-packed 200-pound junior running back Kegan Lee, who has run for 297 yards and three touchdowns this season. Another is junior quarterback Joe Schlemeier, having completed 39 of 87 passes for 436 yards -- although his nine interceptions have caused some difficulties.
"They do a good job spreading you out, changing formations, but they also do a good job of running downhill," Stockman said. "Our defense is going to have to do its best job."
It will be hard for Marshall (3-1, 2-0 NCMC) to do much better than last week, when it posted its first shutout in five years with a 19-0 win at Kirksville. However, Stockman sees plenty of areas for improvement in all facets of the game, especially special teams.
"We have to keep people from starting (possessions) from midfield," he said. "Both our kick and punt coverages have to be better."
The Owls jumped out of their veer offense early last week's game, producing a touchdown with the spread option on their first series. With the ability of the Hornets (0-4, 0-1) to change from three- to four-man fronts, Marshall may be back to basics unless the coaching staff sees something it can exploit.
"We're going to do what we do offensively and hopefully move the chains on them," Stockman said.
A year ago, this was a grind-it-out affair on Cecil Naylor Field, Fulton holding on for a 10-8 victory. With players like Lee at linebacker, where he's averaging 10.5 tackles per game, and a secondary with six picks to its credit, the Owls will have to avoid mistakes and be sound in blocking.
"Blitz pick-ups are a key," Stockman said after watching his team yield three sacks against the Tigers. "We have to do a better job of seeing where they're coming from."
Marshall is unquestionably improved from a year ago, but Stockman knows more work is needed to win not only this game -- but to sustain success as the league campaign thickens with upcoming Class 4, District 6 tilts at Moberly and against sixth-ranked Hannibal over the next two weeks.
Which brings the Owls back to that "f" word.
"We need to focus on this week and don't let the other stuff distract us," Stockman remarked. "We're dialed on Fulton right now."