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Mills, Airedales Ready for Run-Oriented Poteau 9/10/21

Mills, Airedales ready for run-oriented Poteau

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Kevin Mills looks a lot like those players who came before him in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s: scrappy, determined, tough as nails. 


Mills and the Airedales open their 2021 home slate Friday when the Poteau Pirates come calling. The 5-foot-10, 140-pound senior will be ready.  


Alma (0-1) hopes to have a bounce-back week following last week’s tough 31-20 loss to Van Buren - a game of big plays that tipped in favor of the Pointers. 


Mills’ No. 4 jersey gives him a sense of pride. 


“Alma’s a special community,” Mills said. “The whole town loves Alma football. A lot of people reach out.”


For Mills, the clock is ticking. 


“It’s my senior year and these last 10 regular-season games, you just have to make the best of it,” Mills said. “You have to play hard and fast and enjoy the moment.”


A two-sport standout in football and baseball (Mills catches and plays center field for the Airedales’ baseball team), Mills wasn’t the biggest fish in the pond as a seventh- and eighth-grader. But, playing for Joey Potts in seventh grade and then Seth Burgess as an eighth-grader, the Alma native always refused to back down. 


“They may be bigger than you, but if you play faster and harder, and be more physical, you’ll beat them every time,” Mills said. “You just have to do your thing.”


Mills was in on five tackles in last week’s loss to the Pointers. He also recorded the team’s first interception of the 2020 season (Conner Stacy had another later). 


“I saw him going deep and I stayed back, and once I saw that ball up in the air I knew it was mine,” Mills said. “I went up and jumped for it and held on tight until I fell to the ground.”


Mills also had an interception in the team’s Aug. 17 scrimmage with Southside. 


As a team, Alma finished with three takeaways in the loss to Van Buren. Alma forced 19 turnovers in 2020, 10 fumble recoveries, and nine interceptions. 


A near-miss in last week’s loss to Van Buren set the tone early. The Pointers’ Chi Henry turned a missed opportunity by Alma’s secondary into a 70-yard touchdown reception. 


“Conner came underneath me and Conner jumped up for the ball,” Mills said. “He hit my chest and the ball tipped up in the air, and the dude caught the ball. It was a lucky play.


“We have to take away mistakes.”


Down 24-6 at the half last week, Alma outscored the Pointers 14-7 over the final 24 minutes last week, using Stacy’s interception to springboard an 80-yard scoring drive. 


“We just have to keep a strong mindset and know that we’re still in the game,” Mills said. “We can’t give up early in games. We have to play hard all the way through.”