December 18, 2009 9:49:00 AM
STARKVILLE --Jeff Terrill believes it will take more than just a coaching change to reverse the fortunes of the Starkville Academy football program.
He said it also is going to take a change in attitude.
With only one victory in the past two seasons, Terrill wants to bring everyone connected with the school together to help the football program succeed.
That''s the promise Terrill made Thursday when he was introduced as Starkville Academy''s new coach by headmaster John "Doc" Stephens and athletic director Glenn Schmidt.
Terrill replaces Brian Sims, who resigned in November after two years at the school.
After spending the past eight seasons as head coach at Itawamba Community College, Terrill was "thankful" and "humbled" to be chosen by the Volunteers.
Terrill doesn''t thinks he can change things at Starkville Academy overnight. He knows it''s a process no matter what the level of football.
"I realize the program is down," Terrill said. "When you go 0-11 (last season), there have to be a lot of things that are wrong. It''s a great opportunity to erase the board and rebuild a program. There will hopefully be some fulfillment and satisfaction in working hard to return this to a competitive program."
Starkville Academy won a Class 3A, Division II state championship in 2005, which tells Terrill, a native of Macon who attended Central Academy, it can be done.
"I am a man who believes in history, so I know when the school was created," Terrill said. "I played on those fields myself, know they''ve had many more winning seasons, and have won championships, so I don''t see any reason why we can''t return to competing at a high level."
Terrill worked as an assistant coach at East Mississippi C.C. and Hinds C.C. He also coached at Kosciusko and Woodland Heights high schools.
Terrill resigned at ICC after the season and began to ponder what his next step would be. He knew some coaches took high school jobs out of state in the past, but he turned his focus on private schools in Mississippi.
"We sat and talked about that as a family," Terrill said. "We wanted to try and find a school we could identify with, then I was blessed two days after when coach Schmidt gave me a call and said they were looking for a coach. I felt like all the right doors opened up."
Schmidt said the school is excited about having a coach with Terrill''s experience.
"The whys, whens, and what ifs don''t matter now," Schmidt said. "The only thing that matters is we look to the future. We''ll rally the troops and look for positive things to build on."
Terrill still lives in Fulton and plans to commute to Starkville Academy initially. He''ll be with the Volunteers three afternoons per week during the offseason, and plans to conduct spring practice with the junior high and high school teams.
Spring practices will be devoted "to changing the attitude."
"Losing becomes a habit and something you are willing to accept," Terrill said. "I want to encourage those young men to get better every day."
Terrill also will try to convey that message academically and spiritually in a Christian setting that he came to learn from the school''s Web site.
"I hope that''s what Jeff Terrill is," Terrill said.
1. Bulldogs land commitment from McLaurin at Collins LOCAL SPORTS