If the Starkville Academy football team is looking for someone who can relate to their heart-wrenching losses this season, the Volunteers have to look no further than this week's opponent.
Heritage Academy (1-1) comes into Friday night's 7 p.m. matchup on the heels of last week's 22-21 loss to Winston Academy, a defeat that came courtesy of Winston punching in a two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter.
It's for that reason that Heritage coach and former SA assistant Brad Butler has been worrying about how his team would respond to such a bitter defeat, but so far, Butler says his team is ready to get past last week.
"I thought Monday that maybe our guys were a little bit down, but (Tuesday), I was really pleased with the way they responded," Butler said. "We came in Sunday and watched film and got to talking about the little things that we didn't get done. We're just going to try and build on the good things that we did and fix the things we didn't do.
"We haven't talked a whole lot about last week. It's over and done with. We're just trying to move forward."
For Butler's team to answer last week's loss with a win over SA, they'll rely heavily on a versatile offensive attack.
"We gear a little bit more towards the run than the pass, but we're pretty balanced," said Butler. "That's how we want to be anyway."
If Heritage can be effective both through the air and ground game, they could be in good shape to leave Starkville with a win on Friday, but Butler isn't expecting this year's SA squad to hand his team anything.
"I've been impressed the way (SA) gets to the ball on defense," said Butler. "Offensively, they control the ball. They're good at what they do offensively, but I've really been impressed by the way their defense pursues the ball.
"The name of the game is defense and they're playing good defense and anytime you're doing that, you're going to be in ballgames."
Knowing that, Butler feels the Vols won't be the same squad that Heritage defeated 46-23 a year ago.
"They seem like they're playing harder (than last season)," said Butler of SA. "They seem like they're trying to do what they can do. They're not getting out of their means. They're using their strengths to their advantage. They know what they're good at and they do it."