Monday morning quarterback: Starkville Academy vs. Winston Academy

Robbie Faulk
Staff Writer

It’s that time of year where every game counts from this point forward.

District play is underway and kicked off with a bang for Starkville Academy on Friday when it hosted Winston Academy. The Volunteers celebrated a 36-0 blowout win, but they weren’t at their best.

Starkville Academy coach Chase Nicholson shook off my question post game about possibly being disappointed with certain aspects of the game. As he put it, he’s always happy to get a win.

Suppose the fact that the Vols didn’t play well and still won the game handily is one of the reasons he’s smiling this week. His team was playing a putrid Winston Academy offense, but it didn’t ever seem like the effort, especially on defense, let up.

On offense, Starkville Academy sputtered early. The Vols gave away a fumble in the first possession inside the red zone on a Noah Methvin run and then Methvin threw an interception on the next possession. Methvin was starting at quarterback this week with Ben Owens resting a minor knee injury that shouldn’t sideline him for long. When he’s back, the team returns to full strength.

That’s one of the luxuries of this team, though, to have a player like Methvin with experience and skill to step in when needed. He turned the offense around with the help of running back Taylor Arnold and the Vols rolled in the second half.

Arnold, to me, could be the difference maker for this offense. I was disappointed to see him step away from football last season and focus on basketball and baseball after watching him have so much success all over the field in junior high. You could see there was some tremendous potential in Arnold in how he dominated those games in ninth grade and even went out there to kick.

Now he’s back and he’s a natural athlete that Nicholson has felt is best suited in the backfield. Arnold weaved his way through the defense for first down after first down and that offensive line wore down Winston’s front seven as it tends to do on a weekly basis.

By the fourth quarter, the conditioning of this Starkville Academy group was evident as it simply imposed its will on the visitors from Louisville.

While the offense took a couple of quarters to knock off some rust, the defense was outstanding from start to finish. It took a halfback pass from the Patriots to get their only big play of the game when they had a 43-yard reception. That was about all Winston Academy was able to muster against a heady group that is always well-coached by defensive coordinator Brad Butler.

Kyle Faver has been unblockable coming off the edge and Willie Latham sticks his nose in on most of the plays as one of the leading tacklers at linebacker. When Owens is healthy, Methvin will be back on the defense as well adding another big piece to a tough unit.

All things considered, this team is primed for a run in the MAIS AAA. The Vols step out of District 2 play for the final time this season when they host Pillow Academy for homecoming next week and then the road gets tougher. Canton Academy and Heritage Academy will welcome Starkville Academy for back-to-back games away from the friendly confines of J.E. Logan Field. The Vols close the season on senior night against Leake Academy.

We’re about to figure out just what this team is made of, but with consecutive shutouts in tact, I believe it's ready for the challenge. 

Robbie Faulk is the high school writer for the Starkville Daily News. The views in this column are Faulk's and not necessarily the views of the SDN or its staff.