Monday morning quarterback: Starkville Academy 20, Indianola Academy 14

Joel Coleman

Staff Writer

Quite a bit of important football happened in Starkville over the weekend.

If you happened to miss something, no one could blame you.

Starkville High ended the 30-game winning streak of West Point on Friday. About 24 hours later, Mississippi State kicked off the Joe Moorhead era with a lopsided victory over Stephen F. Austin.

Something else was going down on Friday just across the ditch from where the Yellow Jackets were defeating the Green Wave. Starkville Academy, in a rematch of last year’s state championship game, pulled out an impressive triumph over Indianola Academy.

With so much going on in town over the weekend, perhaps the Volunteers’ success was faded into the background. From someone who watched it firsthand, let me catch everyone up a bit and say Starkville Academy’s big win isn’t something that should be overlooked.

It goes without saying Indianola boasts a really good football program. The Colonels defeated the Vols in the regular season last year and nearly did the same for the state title before Starkville Academy won an overtime thriller. The rekindling of last season’s championship contest very much lived up to the hype on Friday.

Indianola struck first when the Colonels got a pick-six on the first play from scrimmage. It was all downhill from there though for Indianola. Starkville Academy was just too much. In the end, the Vols won 20-14. SA moved to 3-0 for the year, but head coach Chase Nicholson didn’t want his team to make too much of it.

“It’s a stepping stone in the direction we want to go,” Nicholson said in the moments following the game. “It’s nothing more than game three in week three of 2018. Like I challenged the guys, we can’t make this any bigger than what it is. This was game three. It was no different than last week or the week before. It’s a special win and an exciting win. We’re at home against a great opponent, but this is not the state championship. This is not a big district game. This is game three and a stepping stone in the direction we want to go. If we try to make it bigger than what it is, we’re going to lose our heads and lose our cool. Our job is now to go and keep getting better.”

Nicholson understandably doesn’t want his team to get cocky despite a hard-earned win over Indianola. There’s too much football left to play. In the grand scheme of things, he’s exactly right. Friday’s win didn’t mean anything more than any other early-season win. All the same though, this felt huge for the Vols.

Running back Taylor Arnold said as much post game.

“It’s a lot of confidence,” Arnold said of what the win meant for SA. “That’ll give us confidence for the rest of the year.”

It should. This was an incredibly talented Indianola football team. The Colonels should be right back in state title contention at season’s end. Yet SA sent a message to Indianola, to the rest of the teams on the Vols’ schedule and everyone else paying attention that the path to the state crown is once again going to have to come through Starkville.

Legendary wrestler Ric Flair always said that to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man. The Vols proved on Friday that they’re still the men to beat.

Joel Coleman is a sports writer for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are Coleman's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.