Volunteers, Pioneers feature similar styles
Starkville Academy quarterback Kyle Henson struggles for extra yardage. (D.A. Williams/For The Daily News)
When Starkville Academy steps on the field tonight in McComb to battle Parklane Academy, it's a good thing the teams will wear different jerseys.
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With the transfer of Parklane's would-be starting quarterback to Oak Hill just days before the 2010 season, SA head coach Jeff Terrill says the Pioneers have went back to the drawing board and developed some traits that make their style of play one that Volunteers' fans are used to.
"They've had to adapt and adjust and really don't have a thrower so they've committed to the run and they are doing a good job of it," said Terrill. "So they're probably a little bit like us. It'll be a challenge."
For Terrill, tough opponents are nothing new. His Vols (0-3) have already come up short in battles with Ackerman, Lamar School, and Heritage Academy.
After Parklane, SA has plenty of more tests ahead with schools like Jackson Academy and Madison-Ridgeland Academy.
That's why the first-year Vols coach says he doesn't get caught up too much in the strengths of other programs.
"Where we are, everybody's gonna be tough," said Terrill. "We are still trying to focus on ourselves. Our battle cry is that we're giving a good effort.
"We're certainly playing harder, but for us to win, we're going to have to start doing some of the little things well and do them better than we are now, regardless of who we're playing."
For tonight's 7 p.m. matchup with the Pioneers (1-1), Terrill says a couple of things stand out.
"The first thing is their defense," said Terrill. "They are very aggressive, they're very physical, and they run to the ball awful well. We'll have some challenges on offense moving the ball and being able to establish something."
Even if SA is able to drive the ball down the field, they'll still have to contend with Parklane's run-heavy attack led by senior quarterback/tailback Brandon Austin and sophomore tailback Joseph Clark.
One factor that may be in SA's favor is the fact that Parklane is coming off of a bye week. Terrill hopes that will play to the Vols advantage.
"I don't think an open date, with as many teams and as long a season as it is, is a bad idea," said Terrill. "But me, personally as a coach, I wouldn't want it this early in the year. So hopefully it makes us a little sharper and them a little duller since they didn't play last Friday."
With a week off, perhaps the talented Pioneers defense will be rusty and allow the SA offense opportunities for big plays.
Terrill says that, if that happens, a Parklane mistake won't be enough. It will take execution from the Vols.
"We know people are going to load the box against us and you've got to be able to make big plays," said Terrill. "We were able to make some against Lamar (two weeks ago). We've just got to execute better on offense and do the little things better."
If Terrill's offense can make plays, then the Vols could very well pick up win number one tonight.
With SA's effort through the first three games, it has given Terrill reason to believe that Parklane is a team that can be beaten.
"Now we do have much respect for Parklane's team and program, but from what we view, we don't think we're up against a team that's way out of our league," said Terrill. "We certainly think we can be competitive with them."