STARKVILLE — The Starkville Academy football team’s defense has been stellar through the first three games, even pitching a shutout along the way.
But with its offense struggling to score points, Starkville Academy knew it needed a stronger effort to break even Friday against Leake Academy.
Turns out, with a 45-0 beatdown of the Rebels, the Volunteers’ defense didn’t need to record its second shutout of the year. Still, it helps to turn in a performance in which the Volunteers forced an interception and two fumbles and gave up 105 yards of offense.
“This gives us great momentum going into next week,” Starkville Academy senior defensive lineman Stephen Robertson said. “We needed this kind of game.”
Robertson led a stingy defensive line that had three sacks and harassed quarterback Reed Mayfield (3 of 15, 31 yards) all night. Starkville Academy put a cherry on the defensive effort when Joel Ray intercepted a pass in the end zone to end the game.
Robertson had a handful of tackles behind the line of scrimmage and credited the stellar night to a focus of stopping the run.
“We knew we’d have to stop the power,” Robertson said. “We’d been giving up way too much in the last few weeks, and we knew we’d have to stop it first and make them pay.”
The Rebels (2-2) went three and out on their first four offensive possessions. Matters got worse when they fumbled back-to-back kickoffs, which Starkville Academy (2-2) used to turn a 17-0 lead into a 31-0 advantage.
“We worked hard this week, trying to get our guys to swarm to the ball,” Starkville Academy coach Jeff Terrill said. “They tackled well and got the job done.”
Starkville Academy’s 105 yards conceded is a season’s best. It will try to continue the dominating trend when it plays host to Hillcrest Christian School on Friday to open conference play. The Volunteers hope to catch fire with their next two games at home. They play four of five games at J.E. Logan Field in a five-week stretch.