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As Pillow Academy prepares to host Starkville Academy in both teams' regular season finale on Friday, Mustangs head coach Michael Fair's squad is in a good spot.
Pillow is currently 7-2 overall with a 4-2 mark in conference play, good enough to be at the top in District 1 of Class AAA, Division 2.
Still, Fair says the Volunteers have put the Pillow staff in unusual territory.
"We feel good about the position we're in, but we've never had a three-win team stress us so much," said Fair. "Starkville Academy is one of the most fundamentally sound teams we've played all year. We're going to have to play our best game to beat them."
The Mustangs offense, based out of the I-formation, will rely heavily upon the contributions of the senior backfield duo of fullback Luke Aimmel and running back Jaquez Taylor, along with first-year starting quarterback, junior Landon Taylor.
Defensively, Pillow runs a 4-3 that, according to Fair, relies more on pressure from the linemen than any aggressive blitzing.
It has been a very effective strategy to this point, as Pillow's 13.7 points allowed per game average is the best in all of Class AAA.
"We just encourage our guys to play hard with good technique," said Fair.
Of interest to Fair is how his team responds after last week's 28-20 loss at the hands of Jackson Academy, a team that is currently tied with Jackson Prep atop the Associated Press' private schools poll.
It was the second time this year the Mustangs have had to deal with a close loss. Pillow fell to Magnolia Heights 20-17 on Sept. 17 and answered that challenge by ripping off three straight wins before the Raiders ended the streak last week.
Fair wants to see his team rebound the same way this time.
"After losing to JA, we're going to find out what we're made of," said Fair.
Friday's game kicks off in Greenwood at 7 p.m.