September 18, 2013 12:57:46 AM
STARKVILLE -- In the preseason, Starkville Academy football coach Jeff Terrill thought this season might have some ups and downs.
With a sophomore-dominant roster, the Volunteers were expected to have some growing pains. However, Terrell felt like his squad could be good as the season progresses.
Another step toward good status took place in last week's 49-8 home win over Hillcrest Christian.
Now, Starkville Academy looks for two wins in a row when it travels to Magnolia Heights.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday in Senatobia.
"We played a complete game against Hillcrest," Terrill said. "It was good to see both the offense and defense do its job for an entire four quarters. It is certainly the type of consistent effort that we would like to see more often for the remainder of the season."
Starkville Academy (2-2 overall, 1-1 MAIS Class AAA, 1-0 Class AAA, Division II) and Magnolia Heights (3-1, 0-1, 0-0) have formed quite the rivalry here of late. Last season, the squads met twice, with Magnolia Heights winning 25-14 in the regular season and 40-28 in the playoffs.
Both of those meetings took place in Senatobia, as will the Friday night rematch. Starkville Academy took a 22-0 home win in 2011.
"They are really great at what they do," Terrill said. "They have good size and good speed. We will have to be physical and we need to have some success early."
In the victory over Hillcrest, Starkville Academy did experience some success early. The Volunteers scored three first-quarter touchdowns and built a 42-0 halftime lead.
Grant Wolfe scored twice in the first quarter, while O'Shea Kemp scored once.
In the second quarter, quarterback Houston Clark ran for two scores and hit Colt Chrestman on another.
"Houston is a sophomore, so he is still learning everything about the position," Terrill said. "He is beginning to establish that leadership that you want in the huddle."
The Volunteers have also made strides on the offensive line. In the win over Hillcrest, the Volunteers ran the ball 37 times for 284 yards.
This came on the heels of a solid 150-yard rushing performance in a defeat at Washington School.
"We have some youth on the line," Terrill said. "You see that group working hard and getting better. Only way through playing time and playing together will they develop like they need to."
For the season, the Volunteers are gaining 5.6 yards per rushing play. Starkville Academy has run the ball 144 times for 808 yards.
Wolfe leads the way with 67 rushes for 365 yards, with three touchdowns. Clark has rushed 29 times for 227 yards, with five touchdowns.
Though the air, Clark has completed 20-of-46 pass attempts for 228 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Logan Locke has a team-best seven receptions for 69 yards, while Chrestman has six catches for 87 yards.
"We just need a little more consistency on offense," Terrill said. "We need to be able to finish long scoring drives."
Magnolia Heights comes into the contest, fresh off a 75-48 win over Marshall Academy.
The Chiefs lone loss was a 35-0 setback at Jackson Academy two weeks ago.
Noxapater (2-2, 1-0)
at WOCS (0-1, 0-1)
West Oktibbeha plays its home opener at 7 Friday night in Maben.
The Timberwolves opened the season with a 47-0 road loss at Sebastopol.
"Sebastopol had an advantage in that they had played three games and it was our opener," West Oktibbeha coach Danny Crawford said. "We had the usual first game mistakes. Now, we need to learn from them and come out ready to play a better game."
Sebastopol scored six first-half touchdowns and ran for a total of 363 yards on 39 rush attempts.
"We lost several key players off last year's team," Crawford said. "It is just a matter of getting some experience and these guys learning how to play together."
Offensive highlights for West Oktibbeha included 150 receiving yards by Kardarius Yates.
Braylon Fisher led the West Oktibbeha defense with nine total tackles.
Noxapater opened region play with a 20-13 win at French Camp Academy last Friday night.
The Tigers opened the season with back-to-back losses to Eupora and East Webster but won have two straight since then.
Noxapater won last season's meeting 57-6 on the way to a perfect run through Region 3-1A play.
Sebastopol (2-2, 1-0)
at ECOHS (0-1, 0-1)
On the other side of the county, East Oktibbeha will also be playing its home opener.
Kickoff is set for 7 Friday night in Crawford.
East Oktibbeha opened the season with a 47-13 loss at Nanih Waiya.
The Titans were held to 134 yards of total offense in the defeat.
Justin Williams led the way with 40 rushing yards, while John Kincaid scored his team's only rushing touchdown.
Destin Covington also scored on a kickoff return for touchdown.
Sebastopol opened region play with a 47-0 home win over West Oktibbeha. The Bobcats have lost to Lake and Union.
Sebastopol won last season's meeting, 44-20.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter