Monday morning quarterback: Starkville Academy 25, French Camp Academy 0

Robbie Faulk

Staff Writer

It’s always an enjoyable evening when the French Camp Academy Panthers and Starkville Academy Volunteers renew their football rivalry each year, but I’m not sure we can take any definitive points away from the contest when they play.

At least that’s contingent on recent history following the same path as Starkville Academy has taken care of business in the game each of the last five years and French Camp has still found a way to come out well as the season progresses.

Since the Panthers’ last win in the game back in 2013, the Vols won each of the last five games by 13 points or more. Last season they knocked off French Camp 38-7 and they dominated this season’s game 25-0.

Talking to both coach Chase Nicholson of Starkville Academy and coach Nathan Wright of the Panthers post game, neither were too high or too low on the game. Nicholson was, of course, happy to garner the win, but he knows his team isn’t a finished product.

Nicholson has some new pieces on the offense led by quarterback Garrett Lewis and some new wide receivers. This team will look much different as the season progresses and it will be a better team if it stays healthy.

Same for Wright, who is a coach who just always seems to get something out of his team every season. Wright has a difficult job at French Camp. He coaches a Class A football program that is a private boarding school playing public school football. New faces come in and out of the program just about every year and the Panthers always seem to find a way to get into the playoffs and compete despite being in a difficult Region 3 with Nanih Waiya and Noxapater.

Wright has led the Panthers to two state championship games and won the title in 2013. During his time, he’s enjoyed nine winning seasons and a couple of double-digit win years. After taking home eight wins a season ago, he returns some pieces that I think could really make this team a contender.

One of the main players that sticks out is senior quarterback Holman Edwards. He’s got some really good size at 6-2, 192 pounds and is a super athletic playmaker on both sides of the football. He struggled to find any room against Starkville Academy’s defensive front on Friday night, but he was all over the field defensively and had two interceptions.

If the Panthers are to make a run this year, Edwards will have to be the alpha dog of the bunch.

Speaking of that defense Edwards struggled against, the Volunteers were outstanding once again on that side of the football. There have been very few times that I’ve watched the Vols over my four years at the Starkville Daily, and even further back, that I haven’t been impressed with the work they do defensively. Coach Brad Butler is a key piece of Nicholson’s staff and he mentions after most games just how much trust they have on the defense to carry the load.

Of course, Starkville Academy was good on offense as well. Just like French Camp, the Vols sometimes take a few games to get the ball rolling on offense as the quarterback situation has been fluid over the last three years. When they do get rolling, though, they’re a tough act to beat.

The running game always seems to be the catalyst for that unit and I thought they showed to have a really nice one-two punch with Taylor Arnold and Nason Heflin. Arnold, by the way, got himself yet another 100-yard performance as he and Starkville High running back Rodrigues Clark seem to be making a routine out of that.

We also saw the emergence late in the game of a potential third back in Noxubee County transfer C.J. Jackson. The transfer was picking up chunks of yards when he came into the game and he could add yet another dimension to the offense.

Both teams have big games coming up this week so I don’t believe that either will have trouble putting this one in the rearview mirror quickly. The Panthers get a chance to host Class 2A and area rival Eupora and Starkville Academy hosts a rematch of last year’s Class AAA State title game when Indianola Academy comes to town.

So, fans, you can put this game away and forget it as well. The rest of the season lies ahead and it’s time for everyone to buckle down as non-conference play begins to wrap up and the real games begin. Rest assured, your two teams will likely be in the hunt once again for district titles and playoff berths.

Robbie Faulk is the high school writer for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are Faulk's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.