Jay County High School senior Collin Haines hits Delta quarterback Zach Garner moments after he throws a pass during the second quarter Friday at Delta. (The Commercial Review/Chris Schanz)
Jay County High School senior Collin Haines hits Delta quarterback Zach Garner moments after he throws a pass during the second quarter Friday at Delta. (The Commercial Review/Chris Schanz)
There are no moral victories.

At least, that’s what coaches tend to say.

They don’t like to acknowledge moral victories because that’s not what they are judged on. Ultimately, it’s all about wins and losses.

Bill Parcells, former coach of the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys, is a prime example.

“You are what your record says you are,” he said.

To a certain extent, that’s true.

But there’s also danger when dealing in absolutes.

Let’s give an example:

•Team A finishes 5-4 in its nine regular-season games. Its five wins came by an average margin of 30 points. Its four losses came by an average margin of four points.

•Team B finishes 5-4 in its nine regular-season games, playing the same nine opponents as Team A. Its five wins came by an average of three points. Its four losses came by an average of 40.

By the Parcells logic — “You are what your record says you are” — the teams are equal. They played the same teams and both finished with a 5-4 record.

But let’s be honest, which team has the better resume? Which team, if they were meeting in the first round of the Indiana high school playoffs, would be expected to win?

Obviously it’s Team A, which has been winning in blowout fashion and losing by only the slightest of margins while Team B barely managed to eke out its wins only to get crushed in its other games.

The point being, there’s more to a team than just its record.

And those moral victories, well, sometimes they exist.

Here’s a history lesson:

Jay County High School’s football team has not beaten the Delta Eagles on the field in more than two decades. Those games, which served as the season openers from 1997 to 2016, have generally not been close.

The blowout trend started in 1999, when the Patriots lost 81-14 to Delta at the RCA Dome. Then there was the game when they fumbled the ball 11 times in a 52-0 drubbing in 2001, a 42-0 loss in 2004 and consecutive destructions by scores of 56-6, 58-7 and 55-0 from 2009 through 2011. Just two years ago, they were blanked again, this time 63-0. Even last season, they fell 33-6.

Over an 18-year span from 1999 through 2016, Jay County’s average margin of defeat against the Eagles was nearly 36 points.

So tuning in to WPGW at halftime Friday night to find the Patriots trailing just 14-13 was outstanding. It was the best position they had been in against Delta at halftime since the mid 1990s.

Yes, the Eagles took control with two third-quarter touchdowns. Yes, it was another Jay County loss to its Delaware County rival. And yes, it hurt.

“There is no moral victories right now,” said JCHS coach Tim Millspaugh after the loss. “We feel like we have a team that can win games against those type of teams in those close games.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done tonight. It really stings, and I guarantee, you look at those kids’ faces, it stings to them.”

It’s good that it stings. That proves the players care.

But in this case, against that team, these Patriots should also take some pride.

The nine-point defeat is the closest game Jay County has played against the Eagles since losing 30-27 in 1998. The 2002 team, which finished 6-5 and lost only to state-ranked teams, fell 14-0 to Delta. The 2007 squad, which went on to win the school’s only sectional championship, lost 28-18.

Only five times in the last 18 seasons have the Patriots even managed to keep the score within 20.

A lot of football remains to be played, beginning with this week’s visit to Southern Wells. And based on Friday night’s performance at Delta, there’s reason to be excited about the next seven regular-season games and the playoffs.

There’s nothing wrong with a moral victory every now and then.

Sometimes they’re a necessary step toward the real ones.