The Starkville Academy Volunteers know they just have to get through one game in order to secure a trip to Clinton and the State championship, but that one task will not be an easy one.
Tonight in Senatobia at 7 p.m., the Vols line up against a tough Magnolia Heights team.
“In Division II, we have a great situation,” SA coach Jeff Terrill said. “If we win (today), then we are in for the championship. Knowing that has us ready to just get out there and compete.”
Though Terrill admits the Chiefs will be no easy competitor, he is quick to mention that the Volunteers have one advantage up their sleeve. Having met earlier in the season, the coaches and players have a clearer view of just what Magnolia Heights is capable of doing.
“We played them in week three,” Terrill said. “They are certainly a good football team and having played them we know there is an opportunity to win the game. We have the experience and advantage of knowing what to plan for.”
The Volunteers lost the early season game 25-14 on the road.
While SA might have lost its game last week to Presbyterian Christian School 34-14, it did as Terrill states “learn a lot’ and “do some things to get better,” which has them more prepared for this week’s battle.
That preparation will be beneficial if the Volunteers want to pull off a victory over the current North Half champions.
Terrill credits a lot of the Chiefs success to running back Fernando VanHook, whom he ranks as one of the “best running backs in the Mississippi private school league,” but that is not the only strength Magnolia Heights possesses.
“They are balanced on offense,” Terrill said. “It is going to take everything we have to beat them, but we are as healthy as we have been all year and are ready for the challenge.”
Should SA outlast Magnolia Heights they will face the winner of the Heritage and East Rankin Academy game for the State championship in Clinton.
“Anytime you mention the word playoffs, it gets people excited,” Terrill said. “Our guys are no different. They are ready for whatever Magnolia Heights throws at them.”
The Volunteers need to lean on the senior leadership of quarterback Drew Pellum and running back Colby Runnels to be successful and make it to the State Championship game.
Thee Volunteers are 5-6 overall, while the Chiefs are 7-3.