Line­backer play has been strong area for Vols

Starkville Daily News - - SPORTS - By DANNY P. SMITH sports@starkvilledai­

Strong line­backer play helps when go­ing against a qual­ity op­po­nent like the Mag­no­lia Heights School Chiefs.

That's what Starkville Academy foot­ball coach Chase Ni­chol­son be­lieves he has in Will Miller, Camp­bell Spivey, How­ell Archer and Wil­lie Latham.

Ev­ery week, it has been one of those lineback­ers that has led the Vol­un­teers in tack­les dur­ing a game.

Miller hit the 50-tackle mark af­ter get­ting eight against East Web­ster last week and he gives credit to de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Brad But­ler for the suc­cess.

“It helps when coach But­ler gets us all in or­der,” Miller said. “He re­ally pre­pares us for the week to come and that helps us go wide open. Ev­ery­one makes the right fits and ev­ery­thing lines up.”

Along with Miller's pro­duc­tion, Spivey has 48 tack­les, Archer has 40 stops and Latham adds 39 tack­les.

Miller knows it's go­ing to take an­other good ef­fort out of the line­backer group to be able to de­feat Mag­no­lia Heights.

The Chiefs have a 2-2 record, but Miller an­tic­i­pates them to be a dif­fi­cult test on the road. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Se­na­to­bia.

“They are go­ing to be a great team,” Miller

said “We're go­ing to have to be ag­gres­sive and more ag­gres­sive than they are. They have some big play­ers on the of­fen­sive line.”

Ni­chol­son likes see­ing the dif­fer­ent lineback­ers step up each week to lead Starkville Academy.

If the Vols can keep op­po­nents guess­ing, then Ni­chol­son said ev­ery­one is do­ing

their job well.

“If your mike line­backer is mak­ing all the tack­les, then the other peo­ple are not do­ing their job,” Ni­chol­son said. “(It's the same) if your out­side lineback­ers are mak­ing al the tack­les, but it's dif­fer­ent ev­ery week. That means teams are try­ing to at­tack us dif­fer­ently and th­ese peo­ple are step­ping up and mak­ing plays. Ev­ery week it's some­thing dif­fer­ent. That means our op­po­nents are try­ing to find a weak­ness and can't find one, which is a good thing for us.”

Starkville Academy also has plenty of play­mak­ers on of­fense and it starts with Noah Methvin and Ben Owens at quar­ter­back. Both have en­joyed suc­cess at dif­fer­ent points of the sea­son so far.

Owens has com­pleted 29of-62 pass at­tempts for 411 yards and five touch­downs with 22 car­ries for 114 yards rush­ing and two more scores. Methvin has com­pleted 11of-18 pass at­tempts for 147 yards and two touch­downs with 17 at­tempts on the ground for 81 yards and three touch­downs.

Tay­lor Arnold leads the Vols in rush­ing with 48 car­ries for 355 yards and two touch­downs, while Rae­gan Richard­son has the best num­bers in the re­ceiv­ing depart­ment with 17 catches for 229 yards and two touch­downs.

All of that looks pretty im­pres­sive to Mag­no­lia Heights coach Cliff Young.

“They've got a nice foot­ball team,” Young said. “They run down­hill on both sides of the foot­ball.”

Starkville Academy has won three out of four games to start the sea­son and opens District 2-AAA play next week against Win­ston Academy at home.

Ni­chol­son wants mo­men­tum to build from one week to the next and for the Vols learn and to con­tinue to grow.

“You keep mov­ing for­ward from week to week.” Ni­chol­son said. “We want to take what we've learned the past four weeks and put it to­ward this game. We're pre­par­ing for the fu­ture, but we take it one week at a time and it's Mag. Heights week. As far as we're con­cerned, we're 0-0. That's the men­tal­ity the guys have and that's what we'll con­tinue to do.”

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