COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — In sports, the story of David and Goliath is a common metaphor. The underdogs versus the juggernauts.
For the MAIS 5A state championship between Starkville Academy and Heritage Academy, from the outside looking in, the Volunteers have embraced the “David” role.
The road to the state championship for head coach Chase Nicholson and company has featured three straight road games, three straight games against higher seeds.
The Vols completed a comeback from trailing 35-7 to Magnolia Heights at halftime. The Vols scored a safety to clinch a 24-22 win over Lamar School. The Vols also came back to win in a halftime deficit to Adam County Christian in the South Half Final.
“This is not a surprise for us,” Nicholson said, “What I love about this is they believed it, and they did it.
“I knew they had the ability to win all those games on the road. I know we were probably going to lose three or four games in the regular season, I knew that coming in. But I knew that if we kept fighting, kept getting better, we would have our chance.”
Nicholson and the Volunteers know what it takes to win a state championship. The program’s most recent title coming in 2017.
“There’s going to be a lot of people there. It’s going to be a big atmosphere. It’s going to be something some of these guys have never played in before”, senior athlete Matt Miller said.
“I’ve only played in it one time, and that was in 2017. There’s no other game like it.”
There may not be a better representative of “Goliath” in Mississippi high school football in 2019 than Heritage Academy.
Ranked number one in MAIS for the majority of the season, while outscoring opponents, on average, 38-7.
Ever since the third round loss to Adams County Christian in 2018, the Patriots have been focused on one mission.
“The seniors really preached to everybody we have to finish this thing,” senior offensive and defensive tackle Eli Acker said.
“How we felt last year, we don’t want to feel like that again.”
The Patriots and Volunteers already met in 2019, with Heritage Academy winning the regular season matchup 42-7.
“I told them yesterday I didn’t want to hear the words ‘last time’ and they haven’t,” Heritage Academy head coach Sean Harrison said, “they understand that Starkville [Academy] is a state championship team, and that’s how we have to treat them this week.”
“That’s who we wanted,” Nicholson said.
“At the end of the day, that’s who you want. Why would you not want your biggest rival, twenty five minutes down the road, who beat you in the regular season, who you know you can play with if you’ll just go out and play. How much more destiny can you ask for?”
The MAIS 5A state championship will be decided at Jackson Academy Friday at 7 PM.