September 8, 2017 10:21:42 AM
STARKVILLE -- Chase Nicholson had something reinforced Friday he likely already knew: The Starkville Academy football team isn't going to quit.
Coaches still like to see their players back up their confidence in them, albeit Nicholson would have preferred to have had it happen in a victory.
Unfortunately, Nicholson had what he already knew about the Volunteers supported in a 35-21 loss to Indianola Academy, the reigning Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Class AAA champion.
"They kept throwing punches and things started happening," Nicholson said. "We grabbed the momentum at the end. It was just too little, too late. They are a good football team. We are a good football team."
Indianola Academy (3-0) built leads of 21-0 and 35-7 before Starkville Academy (2-1) found its footing and rallied in the fourth quarter.
Nicholson wants his players to build off that finish at 7 tonight when they play host to Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 2A power East Webster.
"We did not play our best game. We did not throw our best punches, and adversity was against us in several forms," Nicholson said.
Noah Methvin hit Brady Richardson with a 22-yard touchdown and Raegan Richardson on a 30-yard touchdown to close the gap. Nicholson said missed opportunities and turnovers earlier in the game changed the complexion of the game. He said he was pleased to see the Volunteers be able to move the football against the top-ranked team in Class AAA. Nicholson also was encouraged to see the players fight to the end, just like he knew they would.
"We were humbled. We needed to be humbled," Nicholson said. "It made us hungry. We realize we still have a long way to go, and the guys realize that. I think all it does it kind of checks our pulse and lets us know we have a lot of fight in us and there are a lot of rounds left."
Nicholson acknowledged the stage for two undefeated teams ranked highly in state polls might have contributed to his team not giving its best showing. He said his approach always has been to learn lessons and to turn the page quickly so one loss doesn't turn into two. This week, Nicholson said the players was ready to put the loss to Indianola Academy behind it because they know they are better than they showed. Nicholson said he reinforced that notion with his skill players, and he believes all of the Patriots will bounce back because they are experienced and confident.
"We didn't spend too much time on that film," Nicholson said. "Everyone spoke their peace and we were done with it."
This week, Nicholson hopes to see better execution and a bounce-back effort from a group that should respond well to a disappointing result. He understands the importance of that happening tonight because East Webster (3-0) is a talented team that can make things difficult if Starkville Academy isn't ready to play.
"I believe in my guys and I trust my guys," Nicholson said. "Let's go to work because we have a big one this week. It is time to move forward. I have all of the confidence in the world until they make me believe otherwise. Even then I won't believe it. I will still believe we have to keep moving forward and I will have faith in them."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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