Handling homecoming: Vols understand when it's time to take care of business on football field

The Starkville Academy Volunteers huddle between plays.

Staff Writer

There are many potential distractions that come with the week of homecoming.

Included in the festivities are the presentation of the queen and her court, parades and parties.

The Starkville Academy Volunteers have been a part of all that this week.

Homecomings are meant to be enjoyed and Starkville Academy head football coach Chase Nicholson wants his team to be involved in everything surrounding the event.

Nicholson said the Vols dress up and take advantage of some of the special times of celebration at school, but he also wants them to remember there's a football game to play and winning it remains the goal.

“There is no homecoming week without a football game,” Nicholson said about his message to the Vols every year during homecoming week. “That’s the most important part about homecoming because without (the game), you don’t have (homecoming). You can’t let all of the other stuff going on distract you from the task at hand. They are a mature bunch and hopefully they will continue to follow the tradition of that. They all have fun, but nothing is a distraction. They participate, have a good time and that’s what it’s all about.”

Starkville Academy will take the field Friday night against Magnolia Heights, which is a team that can make it a difficult homecoming situation if the Vols don’t approach the game the right way.

As far as junior linebacker Willie Latham III is concerned, Starkville Academy plans to take the 7 p.m. game at J.E. Logan Field seriously.

“We are a part of it, but we don’t let it go to our heads,” Latham said. “We come to school and participate, but we don’t want to go too far. We just know we have a game to play and we get ready for it.”
The Chiefs bring a 3-1 record to Starkville and are on a three-game win streak.

Nicholson knows Magnolia Heights won’t be very happy about being the homecoming opponent of the Vols.

“There are no easy games for us and of course, they will come down here with a chip on their shoulder,” Nicholson said. “We’ve beaten them for the last five or six years, but it’s always a tough game. We’ve got to play some good football and we had better get after it. It should be a lot of fun because they are a well-coached team. It’s a fun home ball game for homecoming.”

Starkville Academy has won all four games of the season so far and may have pulled off its most impressive victory yet with last week’s 51-0 result at East Webster.

Even though he saw special teams and defense do some things well, Nicholson said it was far from a perfect performance.

“Offensively, we left a few scores out there and plays out there that we’ve been trying to correct this week,” Nicholson said. “When your defense scores two (touchdowns) and you have several points scored on recovery in the end zone and a kickoff return, that’s four possessions you’ve lost right there offensively, so some of our reps got cut down.”

Taylor Arnold, who added 41 yards to his rushing total against the Wolverines, has carried the football 83 times for 463 yards and four touchdowns this season.
In the passing department, Garrett Lewis has completed 32-of-72 pass attempts for 425 yards and three touchdowns. Zak Kelly has caught 12 passes for 93 yards, but Nason Heflin has made nine catches account for 166 yards and two scores. Howell Archer contributes six grabs for 111 yards and a touchdown.

Taylor Ray leads the defense with 33 tackles, while Latham and Campbell Spivey have 31 tackles each. Archer stands right outside the 30-tackle mark with 29.