Different players step up for Vols
Colby Runnels has emerged in the backfield for Starkville Academy. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
From the outside looking in, it's easy to see the early-season success of the Starkville Academy Volunteers.
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There's the perfect 3-0 record. There's the 31 points per game being averaged by the SA offense while the Volunteers defense is allowing, on average, just over three points per game.
While all of those numbers are indeed impressive, there's been another component to SA's winning ways that head coach Jeff Terrill hopes to see continue in tonight's 7 p.m. matchup in Madden against Leake Academy.
"Each week, we seem to have someone different step up," said Terrill. "We've played well at times defensively. We've been real pleased overall with our offensive line play. Ryan Mann has set the tone for us at fullback. The emergence of Colby Runnels has really, really helped us. Hunter Bolin and James Mapp have both stepped up. There's just been several players.
"We've still got a lot of growing to do, but we seem to all be getting better each week and we hope that trend continues."
It will be no easy task for the Volunteers to add to their early-season victory total against the homestanding Rebels, who enter tonight's matchup with a record of 2-1.
Leake features a high-powered offensive attack that, over the course of its last 17 games dating back to last year, has eclipsed the 30-point mark in all but five contests.
"(Leake) is a program that has really been successful, especially the last two or three years," said Terrill. "Coach (Brian Pickens) really does a great job up there and they are just a bunch of old country boys that play hard. They've got some great, skilled athletes and they play the game with passion."
The Rebels displayed their toughness just seven days ago in a win over Kirk Academy. With the game tied at 28-all late in the fourth quarter, Leake scored a pair of late touchdowns to escape with a 42-28 win.
The triumph was keyed by four touchdown runs on the legs of quarterback Wesley Webb, an individual that Terrill says his SA defense must contain tonight.
"(Webb) really runs it well and he can throw it too," said Terrill. "There's another great challenge for us at that position. He has great pocket presence. He delivers the ball well and seems to know where to go with it.
"Basically, our focus is just on finding a way to slow him down and to stop them. We have played some good defense, but we've been fortunate. We've had some things bounce our way that's allowed us to be in this position."
Starkville Academy's ability to hold down Webb could be the difference between getting to 4-0 or suffering the season's first loss.
If recent history has provided any indication, the Vols have plenty of individuals waiting to make a name for themselves by hindering the play of Webb.
Should that happen, the Vols' good fortune could very well roll on for at least one more week.
"We hope great effort causes a lot of good luck and we think, so far, we've done that for the most part," said Terrill.