Pillow Academy will play under difficult circumstances Friday night after the death of a former player and 2017 graduate of the school, Cole Whitfield. Cole is pictured here with Stock McCarty, the son of PA head football coach Tripp McCarty.  

It’s been a tough week of preparation for the Pillow Academy coaching staff.

That’s because the coaches and players have heavy hearts getting ready to play a crucial conference game on Friday against Starkville Academy.

Former Mustang football standout Cole Whitfield, a 2017 PA graduate who remained close to the school and program, died last weekend in West Monroe, Louisiana.   

PA coach Tripp McCarty served as one of Whitfield’s pallbearers on Wednesday and then somehow had to turn his focus back to football for practice later that day.

“It’s been quite the trying time, but we are pressing on — just like Cole would want us to,” McCarty said.

The Volunteers come to Greenwood riding a five-game win streak. After a 34-13 season-opening loss to Lamar School, Starkville has found its way. The Vols are coming off a 28-7 victory over Washington School to move to 5-1, 2-0 in District 1-5A.

CJ Jackson scored two touchdowns for Starkville vs. Washington. Matt Miller rushed for one, and quarterback Randall Futral connected with Dylan Starke for the Volunteers’ other score.

The Mustangs (5-1) are looking to rebound from their first setback of the season, a 26-13 loss at Heritage Academy last week. PA is now 1-1 in league play.

“I like what I saw in practice last week because this loss stings, but we have to make some improvements and move forward.”

nContact Bill Burrus at 581-7237 or Follow on Twitter:@Bill_Burrus.

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