Last Friday night, Starkville Academy lifted a two-year old weight off their backs.
When the Volunteers (1-5) made a last-second, goal-line stand to preserve a 31-29 win against Winston Academy, they cemented the school's first football win since 2008.
It was a victory that the Vols players, coaching staff, and fan base will remember for years to come, but head coach Jeff Terrill's crew understands it's now time to move forward as SA looks to make it two in a row tonight against Washington School.
"I've been fortunate enough in my career to have been on teams that won championships," said Terrill. "But I don't believe I've ever seen any more excited faces than what I saw out of those young men last Friday. It's one I'll always remember and cherish. We were fortunate to win and glad to win, but now we have to focus and move on."
SA's opposition comes to Starkville tonight riding plenty of momentum of their own. Washington (3-3) opened the year with three tough losses to Jackson Prep, River Oaks (La.) Academy, and Pillow Academy, but the Generals have rebounded to win the last three over Magnolia Heights, Indianola Academy, and Lee Academy.
"Washington's record is deceiving," said Terrill. "They lost those games early, one of them was to Jackson Prep by a close score, so they're definitely a very, very fine football team. It will take a better effort and a better showing than we've had all year to be able to win."
Terrill compares the Generals offensive attack to that of Jackson Academy, a run-first team that defeated the Vols 42-14 two weeks ago. Terrill also notes that the SA defense can't afford to give up the type of rushing yardage (224 yards) that they did against Winston.
"When (Washington) gets ready and has to have something, they are going to run the football and run it at you hard and be physical," said Terrill. "We're going to have to do a much better job against the run than what we did last Friday night."
Defensively, Washington is based out of a 3-4 scheme, and tends to play aggressively.
"They really run hard to the ball and blitz quite a bit," said Terrill. "We are going to have to run our option game to perfection and hopefully cause Washington some trouble with it."
Washington head coach Philip Wasson said earlier this week, his team was having trouble preparing for the SA option attack.
"Here we are, haven't seen that type of play all year, and now we have just a week to prepare for it," said Wasson. "We prepared for it starting (Monday) and we had guys hitting the quarterback that are supposed to hit the fullback. All the defenders want to do somebody else's job and it's real tough to stay disciplined. It's tougher (to defend) than anybody could ever think."
Tonight's game kicks off at 7 p.m.
"It's back to business as usual," said Terrill. "It's back to the reality that this program still has a ways to go and we have to be a giant-killer again this week."