The Starkville Academy Volunteers are coming off one of the most successful season in years as they won three games in 2010 and will kickoff the 2011 season tonight as they host the St. Andrews Saints.
"We finished strong and were able to do some good things," said second-year head coach Jeff Terrill about last season. "It gave us some great momentum."
The momentum the Volunteers gained last season carried over into the spring and summer workouts, getting them ready for the first game.
However, preparation for that first game is always different from the rest of the season, so Terrill is spending more time focused on fundamentals than an opponent.
"I think preparing for a first game is unique," said Terrill. "I'm drilling the kids to do the little things right, to be fundamentally sound and to protect the football, because we believe that the team that makes the fewest mistakes is probably going to be the winner."
The Volunteers have the will and want to be winner and have set their goals high this season. Reaching those goals will be a battle, but winning is key to reaching their goals and wins are not something they take for granted.
"Where we are right now every win is precious to us," said Terrill. "We don't take any of them for granted and we are going to fight for every one of them we can."
The fight to reach their goals begins tonight as they host the St. Andrews Saints. The Saints are a private school but play in the MHSAA (Mississippi High School Activities Association) and a in Class 3A.
Playing in the Class 3A of the MHSAA puts the Saints against tough teams such as Forrest which means they are use to playing tough competition.
"They are 3A and are use to a high level of competition," said Terrill. "They will be a challenge for us."
If anything makes the challenge of playing a larger school seem a little bit easier is the Volunteers have some experienced players coming back which the Saints do not have.
The Saints will be starting a large number of new players, so the advantage could be in favor of the Volunteers as they are returning a total of 13 starters. However, the Volunteers will be starting a new quarterback in Drew Pellum and mixing in Ryan McKell at the position as well.
A new quarterback is always challenged to take control of the offense but it all in how fast they learn and develop.
"When you're starting a new quarterback, it's a challenge," said Terrill. "How they do depends on how fast they develop."
Terrill believes what he has around Pellum and McKell will help the development of the two.
"We have a good supporting cast around them," said Terrill. "With maturity around them, we can be successful."
The Volunteers hope to win the first game and set the tone for the season and have been pushing through the hot days in preparation for tonight's battle.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at J.E. Logan Field where as the Vols try to start the season with a bang.