By JOEL COLEMAN
Since closing out last year's three-win season, head coach Jeff Terrill and his Starkville Academy Volunteers have gone about their business with the theme of "Taking the Next Step."
Turns out that mantra isn't just some fancy catchphrase.
In their first outing of 2011 one week ago, the Vols put together arguably their most complete game in years, dominating St. Andrews 38-3.
On the heels of such a convincing victory, SA rolls down Highway 82 to Columbus tonight with their sights set on going 2-0 after a 7 p.m. game against Heritage Academy.
"It's always special to win games," said Terrill. "We're excited to be 1-0 and excited about (last week's) win and we're looking forward to playing (tonight)."
When the Vols battle the Patriots, there's little doubt that Terrill would love to see his team put up a carbon copy of last week's performance.
Against St. Andrews, Starkville Academy out-performed the Saints in virtually all facets of the game.
SA put up 372 yards of total offense to St. Andrews' 95.
The Vols tallied 19 first downs to the Saints' 5.
There were numerous outstanding individual performances as well, led by Colby Runnels' 187 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
"We were really pleased with the defensive performance," said Terrill of last week's game. "We were really pleased with the offensive line play and the physicalness of our football team. Those things were real strengths that we'll continue to try and build off of."
As an added bonus to last week's strong play, new SA starting quarterback Drew Pellum got a relatively stress-free night to get acclimated to running the Vols offense.
"(Pellum) did a real solid job," said Terrill. "He put the ball where it needed to be. We stayed pretty conservative because we got an early lead and had the opportunity to play some additional guys whose knowledge of the playbook isn't in-depth, so that tied our hands a little, but we were excited to see what (Pellum) did."
Despite all the momentum SA brings with them to Columbus tonight, Heritage is also coming off an impressive week one victory.
On the road at Lamar Academy, Heritage rebounded from a 21-0 halftime deficit to win 37-36.
With that, Terrill knows his Vols will have their hands full tonight.
"(Heritage) is a fine program," said Terrill. "(Coach Brad Butler) does a great job over there. They've got excellent talent and a lot of speed. I know they are really excited about their season, and from what I can tell, really think this could be one of the best teams they've had in a long time.
"It certainly will be a challenge for us."