October 10, 2009 11:26:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- Kyle Henson had to make a decision at halftime.
Trailing 34-0 to Madison-Ridgeland Academy at the intermission, the Starkville Academy junior quarterback and his teammates had to find a source of motivation.
The season hasn''t gone the way Starkville Academy wanted, losing all eight games it has played.
When the Volunteers fell behind by such a large margin to MRA, they could have continued in the downward spiral after the way the season had gone to this point.
Henson refused to let that happen.
Starkville Academy scored a pair of second-half touchdowns, one on an 13-yard run by Henson in the fourth quarter, and even though it still lost a 34-14 decision to MRA, the Volunteers felt a little bit better about themselves.
"There comes a point where you don''t play to win, but just play for pride, and that''s what we did," Henson said. "We all decided we''ve got to have pride in our school and each other. We''ve got to work hard and do the best we can."
Starkville Academy coach Brian Sims helped that process with a halftime message.
With a young football team and not much depth, Sims said the Volunteers must put it out of their mind and give a solid effort.
Sims was happy to see Starkville Academy play with intensity, even though MRA substituted to get younger players into the game.
"It''s hard to play every down of every game and not get tired, but what defines you as a human being is how you respond to adversity," Sims said. "I felt the kids responded well and played a lot better in the second half.."
The Volunteers got their first points on a 12-yard run by Heath Walker with 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Henson scored his touchdown at the 5-minute, 34-second mark of the fourth quarter.
Henson completed his only pass of the game, a 20-yarder to Zack Thomas, to set up the score.
"(Thomas) got open and I lobbed it to him," Henson said of the pass.
Sims inserted Henson at quarterback when senior Will Goodwin went down in the Winston Academy game on Sept. 25 with a knee injury.
With the athletic Henson as the signal caller, Starkville Academy has gone from a spread offense to a run-oriented philosophy.
"He''s responded well and the rest of the team has also," Sims said. "They are learning and getting a little better with it every week.
"Having Kyle is good for us right now, and he''s a tough kid. If Will gets well, that''s great, but if not, we''re going to keep doing what we''re doing."
MRA (5-2) mixed the run and the pass to establish its lead with a pair of touchdown passes by quarterback Houston Myhan of 56 yards to Jake Owen and 7 yards to Ty Trammell. Myhan got the scoring started with a 6-yard run, while Myres Virden added a 32-yard touchdown run and Lane Skinner scored from 27 yards.
"I thought we executed real well on our first three drives of the game and were able to get the ball in the end zone," MRA coach Mack Norwood said.
Norwood was glad to be able to rest some of his veterans in the second half and get some of his backups some experience as the Volunteers continued to give their best shot.
"I thought Starkville fought real hard in the second half," Norwood said. "That showed a lot of character by those kids to play the way they did."