September 16, 2012 12:58:22 AM
STARKVILLE -- After a crushing loss to an archrival and a blown lead in a loss the following week, the Starkville Academy football team needed to regroup.
So, like any other team, the Volunteers called a players' only meeting.
"We were making a lot of mistakes and weren't playing with focus," junior lineman Trip Janssen said.
In "crossroads" situations, players and coaches never know how a team will respond. Leadership is only as good as the players who follow. Additionally, the schedule has to be favorable down the road.
Fortunately for Starkville Academy, both have been in their favor. The good fortunes continued Friday, as Starkville Academy doubled up on its shutout of Leake Academy last week with a 42-0 win against Hillcrest Christian School on Friday at J.E. Logan Field.
The Volunteers racked up 40 points or more for the second straight week after averaging 11 in their first three, a stretch in which they went 1-2 and were beset with turnovers and penalties.
While Starkville Academy had a late fumble against Hillcrest Christian, it was the only turnover in the past two games.
"On paper, we look older," Starkville Academy offensive coordinator Chase Nicholson said. "But when we get down to it, we don't have that many guys returning. As a result, in the first few games, we had to grow up. They're understanding the offense better, what we want each play, and we're watching them grow from boys to men each week."
The Volunteers struck on their first two possessions, with scoring runs inside the 5-yard line from Zach Slaughter and Michael Miller and never looked back. Slaughter had two touchdowns, while Colby Runnels led all rushers with 56 yards on six carries.
Hillcrest, which dressed only 16 players, had only 44 yards of offense and was shut out for the second time this year. Hillcrest is averaging 5 yards per game through five contests.
That said, Starkville Academy's road will get much tougher next week when it plays host to Jackson Prep, which beat Pearl High on Thursday night. The Volunteers (3-2 Mississippi Association of Independent Schools) now must shift their attention to not being intimidated by the kings of MAIS.
"We just have to get in their heads that on any Friday, any team can win or lose. We have to execute, not commit turnovers and do our jobs," Nicholson said. "We have to have the mind-set that we can hang with them."
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