November 13, 2009 9:09:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Offensive lineman Jarrod Atterberry likes the future of Starkville High School football.
That doesn''t mean he''s ready for this season to end.
Atterberry believes the Yellow Jackets have momentum going into the Class 6A playoffs after defeating Columbus High 29-28 this past Friday.
Despite Starkville''s record (4-7), Atterberry said don''t count out the Yellow Jackets when they travel to Madison Central at 7 tonight. He said a hard-fought victory against a rival made a difference this week in the locker room and at practice.
"It has given us a good boost of energy knowing we''re in the playoffs," Atterberry said. "Probably no one will take us seriously because of our record, but we should be a good contender, should fight, and get ready to shock the world."
Starkville High coach Bill Lee likes the progress Atterberry and the other linemen have made this season.
After getting freshman Demetre McCleon some snaps against Columbus, Lee said the future is bright up front. The unit will only lose senior Bennie Henderson to graduation.
"We''ve got a lot to build on," Lee said. "McCleon has shored up the line and we''ve had good snaps out of him. He''s been pass blocking well and we''ve got to throw. We don''t run block that well."
Junior quarterback Jaquez Johnson had his best passing night of the season against the Falcons (22 of 39, 341 yards).
Atterberry knows the Yellow Jackets can get on that kind of roll as long as they work together as a team.
"I know we can do more now that we''re in the playoffs," Atterberry said. "We want more."
After a tough non-region schedule that included games against Noxubee County, Meridian, Louisville, and West Point, Starkville dealt with Class 6A, Region 1, District 2 opponents Olive Branch and South Panola. The Yellow Jackets then rallied from a 28-14 deficit in the fourth quarter for an emotional victory against Columbus.
Lee hopes that experience will prepare Starkville for Madison Central (11-0).
"We just play tough football in this region," Lee said. "We''ve played the best, so hopefully (we''re ready). You always have a glow and a grow period. Hopefully, we''ve grown enough and matured enough to glow against (Madison Central) and be consistent."
Atterberry said the tough competition the team faced at the beginning of the season was "a good learning experience for the young offensive line" and prepared Starkville for the region. He thinks the team can carry the momentum into the offseason no matter how the Madison Central game turns out.
"It could contribute to the offseason workouts and make us work harder, play better, and contend next year," Atterberry said. "I think we''re almost where we should be and playing old Yellow Jacket football again. I think next season we should be over the hump."