When Jeff Terrill took over the Starkville Academy football program last winter, he made no assumptions that the rebuilding process would happen overnight.
He simply wanted to instill a winning mindset into the Volunteers and see them improve on a week to week basis.
In spite of last week's 37-7 loss to Washington School, SA's first-year head coach believes his Vols are right on schedule heading into tonight's 7 p.m. game against Madison-Ridgeland Academy.
"When I look at the big, big picture, I am not displeased where we are," said Terrill. "I see progress each week and we expect to see it (tonight)."
Terrill's claims are well-founded.
Already this year, the Vols broke a two-year long losing streak, fell by less than a field goal to both Ackerman and Lamar, and hung with last year's Class AAA-I state champion, Jackson Academy until the Raiders pulled away in the second half.
In the process of becoming a competitive team week in and week out, it has been Terrill's goal to pull maximum effort out of his team each and every week.
Most weeks, Terrill has gotten his wish, but last week against Washington, the Vols leader wasn't pleased with what he saw and knows SA can't afford to have a carryover effect tonight.
"I think sometimes in the journey that we're taking to turn this around there will be some setbacks," said Terrill. "From an effort standpoint, we were somewhat disappointed with our play last Friday. So we hope we're going to bounce back and really have a great effort this week."
According to Terrill, it was the "little things" that SA failed to do against Washington. There were missed blocking assignments and missed reads on offense. There was a failure to swarm to the ball on defense.
All told, Washington dominated the Vols, out-gaining them 443-152 in total offensive yardage.
Much of this week has been dedicated to making sure last week's issues don't crop up against MRA.
Terrill says his seniors, a group that includes players such as Kyle Henson, Matt Ward, Adam Crittenden, and others, have been a big help in that regard.
"We don't have many seniors, but they are a committed bunch that is leading this team very valiantly," said Terrill. "They understand what we're up against and they just keep fighting."
If the Vols don't stamp out the miscues, they could be in for a long night against MRA. While the Patriots sit at just 3-3, Terrill says their record is deceiving.
Of MRA's three losses, two came against Jackson Prep and Jackson Academy, two teams ranked in the top three of the latest Associated Press poll.
The other loss came against Pillow, who Terrill called "one of the best teams" he has seen on film to this point.
As for MRA's plan of attack, Terrill says the Patriots don't have many holes on either side of the ball.
"Offensively, they can run and throw the ball," said Terrill. "They come at you with a lot of multiple formations. Defensively, they've got two inside guys that are very athletic and strong."
While Terrill admits his team might face an uphill battle against a team with the talent of MRA, he also has preached that victory is attainable, just so long as there's not a repeat of last week.
"I don't think the story line has changed on us at all," said Terrill. "We certainly should be the underdog against a very, very well coached and good MRA team. But at the same time, we've tried to sell our guys that there is an opportunity to win if we'll just play hard and do the things that we do well."