By Rocky Higginbotham
Winston County Journal
Breathers on the 2017 football schedule for Winston Academy will be few and far between.
The Patriots not only are in one of the most competitive districts inside the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, but Winston also has four non-district opponents with a recent history of deep postseason runs.
Winston gets it started Aug. 18 at Newton County Academy in Decatur, where they’ll take on a Class AA Generals team which went 7-4 a year ago.
In Week 2, Winston hosts another Class AA team in Sylva-Bay Academy. The Saints were 3-7 last year, including a 35-21 loss to the Patriots.
Those two matchups are followed by a trio of games against bigger competition before District 2-AAA play begins.
Winston is at Copiah Academy on Sept. 1. Class AAAA Copiah was 10-3 a year ago. Defending Class AAA state champ Indianola Academy comes to Winston Sept. 8, a year after running the table with a perfect 14-0 record.
And, on Sept. 15, Winston visits Class AAAA East Rankin Academy. ERA finished 2-9 last year.
District play begins on Sept. 22 with a trip to Starkville Academy, followed by a Sept. 29 game at home against Canton Academy.
Starkville was 8-4 last year, including a 14-12 win over Winston. Canton, meanwhile, is new to the district after winning the Class AA state championship a year ago with a 13-1 record.
Winston hosts Heritage Academy on Oct. 6 and goes to Leake Academy Oct. 13 in its other two district games.
Heritage, the defending district champ, was 10-3 a year ago including a 42-14 win over Winston. Leake, meanwhile, was 3-8 a year ago. The Rebels topped the Patriots 13-6.
Winston will wrap up its regular season with a home game against Winona Christian School on Oct. 20.
Winona Christian was 9-3 a year ago, but one of those losses by the Class AA Stars was a 39-6 setback to the Patriots. Winston finished 4-6 overall and 0-3 in district play a year ago.