May 19, 2010 8:58:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Anyone interested in what the Starkville Academy football team will look like in the fall will have a chance to see on Thursday night.
The Volunteers will hold an intra-squad scrimmage at 6 p.m. to cap spring practices under first-year Starkville Academy coach Jeff Terrill.
The rebuilding project at Starkville Academy has seen a re-worked offense installed with more plays under center and various option plays. Terrill and his staff are still unsettled defensively, but Terrill isn''t worried with new personnel and many players featuring on both sides of the ball.
His goal this spring was to change attitudes and build a foundation for what he hopes will be a competitive team in the top flight of Mississippi Association of Independent Schools.
That process begins with practice, where quarterback Kyle Henson has described Terrill as "intense."
Terrill demands a quick tempo and is a stickler for organization, defensive end Adam Crittenden said.
"Everything''s on time and urgent," Crittenden said. "You''ve got to have a sense of urgency to get the work done."
The urgency has created efficiency in how the Volunteers have progressed this spring as Henson admitted he''s surprised at how much the Vols have covered in the playbook.
Henson, a senior-to-be, is getting the majority of the reps as the starting quarterback after filling in for an injured Will Goodwin during last year''s winless season. He''s also seen time at "A-back" when Terrill moves Hamilton McBride under center.
With just 30 players on the roster, Starkville Academy''s players knew they''d each see time at multiple positions heading into spring practice. Crittenden has worked out at fullback, offensive tackle and defensive end, while Zack Thomas has moved from tight end to center.
The moves have put an emphasis on players retaining twice as much information.
"It can be challenging because you''ve got to pay attention to certain positions even when you''re not in at that position," Crittenden said. "When coach is talking to the other positions you''ve got to listen and pay attention all the time."
Terrill attributes the personnel shuffles to the team''s defense being behind the offense.
"We really think the key to us turning things around and winning some ball games is having a good defense," Terrill said. "At the same time, once you first get into it the defense does jump out ahead so you spend a little extra time trying to get the offense caught up. We haven''t figured everything out defensively, but the guys are working the fundamentals better and that''s the key to great defense."
Terrill, the former Itawamba Community College coach, knows the importance of keeping confidence levels high and his goal is to make Thursday''s scrimmage fun for his players.
Crittenden said he can feel the excitement building in anticipation of Thursday''s scrimmage.
His coach is hopeful for a big turnout.
"I really hope we get a lot of people out because it would mean a lot to the kids," Terrill said. "Coach Terrill''s kind of pulling a (Mississippi State coach) Dan Mullen in that regard. Parents, friends and fans should come out and take a peek at them."
As for what to expect on the field Thursday, Terrill said the team will show its youth at times and will make mistakes. However, he''s confident fans, parents and students will notice a change in the team and see the progress he''s seen in each practice.
"With it being intra-squad you get a little tough on numbers," Terrill said. "Some young men will have to play out of position to get the looks we want. But we hope people will look at us and see a different tempo, that we play faster, we play with greater intensity and greater confidence. We want those young men to walk off that field knowing they''re better."
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