The Starkville Academy Volunteers are getting players introduced to the game of football at an early age.
With the pee-wee league in existence for a few seasons now, Starkville Academy's coaches like what it has provided for elementary-aged boys.
Coach Brian Jones has seen both sides of 5th and 6th grade football for the Volunteers. He has moved up to 6th grade after working with the 5th grade squad last season and has noticed a difference.
"It's been a real easy transition this year because they already knew what we were doing," Jones said. "They had to learn the game from last year. They weren't so much learning the game this year as much as polishing up. We've been able to run many plays and fine-tune what we want to do. It's been easier this year and we've more or less been improving skills. It's been fun."
The 6th grade Vols defeated Winston Academy 24-0 on Tuesday in a game where quarterback Griffin Little was able to set up touchdowns with the passing game. He completed a pass for a 2-point conversion and also had a touchdown completion to Campbell Spivey.
"This team has some really good skilled players," Jones said. "We have a quarterback who can really throw the ball around. When you can throw the ball, it's huge. We can throw the ball in the flat and even throw it over the top. We have three or four kids who can catch the ball. It opens the field to us so (opponents) just can't stay in the box on us and defend against the run because we'll throw on them too.
"Defensively, we've got some tough kids in the middle. My noseguard is Jacob Dennis. If he does not want to be blocked, he can't be blocked. He's also a center and is just a big kid who can play. My two running backs I wouldn't trade for anybody we play."
The members of SA's 6th grade squad are Griffin, Spivey, Dennis, Brandon Polley, Ben Guest, Benjamin Harris Knight, Avery Hanson, Taylor Arnold, Zach Kelly, Nathan Pollan, Howell Archer, Will Miller, Nason Heflin, Owen Dale, Connor McLaughlin, Aiden Butler, AJ Willard, Walker Tranum, Payne Lancaster, Joseph Chromiak, Douglas Kelly and Bates Bennett.
As far as the 5th grade Vols, coach Charlie Winfield and his assistants have been introducing their players to the game.
In only having one Vol who had even played football at all since one month ago, there has been a great deal of teaching taking place.
"The thing about football, unlike baseball and basketball, you can't replicate it," Winfield said. "In baseball, you can go outside and throw the ball against the wall and wait for it to come back. In football, you can't practice getting blind-sided by somebody or practice tackling on your own, so it's a brand new game and we're behind some other teams. All of the other teams in our league have been playing for at least a year, but we have come a long way in a month."
The goal for Winfield is to develop a love for the game with the 5th graders of Starkville Academy so they will stick to it and make the future levels there stronger.
Winfield wants to prepare them for coach Chad Peterson's junior high team and coach Jeff Terrill's varsity squad.
"When they get there, we want them to understand the fundamentals and be able to execute the basic block and we want them to make that form tackle," Winfield said. "So far, we've been very pleased with the strides we've been making, particularly on the defensive side."
The members of the 5th grade Vols are Ben Brown, Michael Winfield, Matt Miller, Spencer Markham, Taylor Ray, Josh Edmonds, Sam Clark, Garrett Lewis, Kyle Hubbard, Jack Wiggins, Cody Dill, Justin Rook, Zach Nason, Izak Hanson, Grayson Armstrong, Jacob Linley, Trey Tyler and Casey Crittenden.
The Starkville Academy teams are scheduled to play Oak Hill at home on Sept. 25.
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