Vols host last home game
Starkville Academy would love nothing more than to win its final home game tonight.
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To do so, they'll have to get through a motivated Magnolia Heights squad that is playing for their playoff lives.
"It's kind of the same old story, just the second or third verse," said SA head coach Jeff Terrill. "(Magnolia Heights) is just another strong, strong team. We're certainly a big underdog. They're bigger, they're stronger, they outnumber us, but we've just got to circle the wagons and play."
If the Volunteers can get anything close to a repeat of last week's performance, they'll be just fine.
SA pounded out 491 total yards, 410 on the ground, in a 35-23 triumph over Clarksdale-Lee Academy.
"We had real good focus and everyone certainly gave great effort," said Terrill of the Vols' victory last Friday. "We were able to execute and make some plays on offense and came up with enough stops on defense to have a nice win. We moved the ball the whole game, so from an offensive standpoint, it certainly was (our best game of the season)."
Several individuals might also could stake claim to last Friday night being their best performances of the campaign.
Matt Ward ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the contest, pacing the potent SA rushing attack.
Three other Vols just missed the 100-yard mark on the ground, with Kyle Henson gaining 95 yards, Ryan McKell piling up 89, and Ryan Mann tallying 78.
Henson also threw for 81 yards and a touchdown, with all 81 of those receiving yards attributed to McKell.
"(The Clarksdale-Lee game) was a signal to us as a coaching staff, and we think to our fans, of the proof of the progress we think is happening," said Terrill. "It was a good stamp of approval that the team has gotten better and things are headed in the right direction."
Unfortunately for Terrill, some of his key contributors that have given SA such hope for the future are now down to their final two games.
A senior class that includes Henson and Ward will say goodbye to their home crowd tonight.
"This is the last time they'll play on that field," said Terrill. "Even though (the seniors) won't get to be on a team with a winning record, I think they feel pretty good that they helped lead this program in the right direction. I think that adds to tonight and there will be a little extra emotion because of it and I think they'll all play awful hard."
It will take a top-notch performance from seniors and underclassmen alike to dispose of Magnolia Heights.
The Chiefs enter play tonight needing to win each of their final two games, plus get help in the form of a Washington Academy loss, to reach the Class AAA playoffs.
Earlier this season, Magnolia Heights proved they are a playoff-caliber team by handing Pillow Academy its lone loss of the year.
"They are very aggressive on defense and do multiple things," said Terrill of tonight's opposition. "They really run the ball well and it will certainly be a tough test for us."
Regardless of the challenge, Terrill says tonight gives himself and the team another chance to gauge themselves against premier competition.
"It's another measuring stick to see if we've improved enough to play a little bigger, stronger (Class AAA) program," said Terrill.
Tonight's game kicks off at 7 p.m.