The first couple of days of practice are usually the ones that set the tone for the entire season in any sport.
That is no different for high school football, and the Starkville Academy Volunteers are hoping to get off to a great start.
"We just had a real good offseason and summer," SA head coach Jeff Terrill said. "I think kids are reporting in better shape than we ever had. We do have a good nucleus back. You would just like to get off to a great start."
The Volunteers start practice on Monday with two-a-days. SA will go early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
"It certainly wears on you both mentally and physically if you go through it," Terrill said. "It is not as tough as it used to be in the old days with the rules. The first three days are just in shorts and Thursday and Friday are in shorts and shoulder pads."
Starkville Academy is coming off an appearance in last year's Class AAA, Division II Championship game. The Vols lost to Washington School 20-0.
That success is something Terrill wants to keep up with the SA football program, but he also believes that it is a new year and everything starts at square one.
"We are always excited about what took place last year, but we talk an awful lot about accepting the challenge of this year, and realizing we can' t live in the past," Terrill said. "Those wins last year aren't going to do a thing for us this year. We really want to prove the program is improved, heading in the right direction and that last year wasn't just a one-shot wonder. It means an awful lot to those seniors to keep on winning."
Terrill and Vols had an unusual spring practice. The baseball team played until the middle of May in the playoffs. The baseball players that play football only participated in a couple of spring drills, so Terrill didn't get to work with them as much.
Most of the baseball players are skilled players on the gridiron, and skilled players are not Terrill's main focus in the spring so it didn't hamper his squad as much as people think. However, Terrill is still looking for players to step up.
"You always are trying to look for a few young men that are going to step up and solve some issues that you have," Terrill said.
Both sides of the ball have some holes.
"Defensively, we are looking for a defensive end," Terrill said. "We have got to solidify one of the corner spots. We need to create some depth inside.
"On the offensive end, we have got some young skilled backs. We have got to really see how they develop and show some maturity before we get under the fire of the game."
Terrill has several leaders in quarterback Drew Pellum, tailback Colby Runnels and receiver Hunter Bolin.
"I think we have a good crop of leaders, a good senior class and a good nucleus to build around," Terrill said.
The Vols travel to Jackson to participate in the Jackson Academy Jamboree on August 10. They open the season on the road in Ridgeland against St. Andrews on August 17.