Tigers poised to come back from winless season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 26, 2004

If it’s true perfection comes in different forms, one might call the McKenzie High School football team perfectly imperfect.

The Tigers are coming off an 0-10 season that followed a 12-1 season the year before.

McKenzie is looking to turn its fortune around this Friday when they travel to Flomaton High School in Escambia County.

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Although the players could have a lot to be down about, they are looking forward to the season with positive attitudes.

&uot;I think we’ll come out pretty good,&uot; said senior center and defensive end Travis Bush. &uot;It’ll be a real good game. It’ll be where we set the bar for what we do the rest of the season.&uot;

The Tigers fielded a team of just 16 players a year ago. That number is up to 28 this season.

The increase in bodies could be a factor in any success the Tigers have this year.

They are facing a Flomaton team that lost its starting quarterback and running back from the previous season.

Although the outcome looks promising for a team that will field a lot of seniors, the Tigers are not taking this game too lightly.

&uot;I think this will be a tough game,&uot; said wide receiver and safety David Davis. &uot;Brantley is the other tough game on our schedule.&uot;

New coach David Kirkland is charged with the task of leading a group of players that did not win a game last season.

The Tigers believe the one factor that will turn things around for them is the unity they share on and off the field.

&uot;There’s a lot of togetherness,&uot; said wide receiver and linebacker Matthew Bush. &uot;We respect each other.&uot;

McKenzie hopes the respect they have for each other will be matched by respect from other teams.

The Tigers went from a potential power in 2A football to a team their opponents looked forward to playing.

Their goals for this year are clearly defined – to get back to playing the type of football that earned them an undefeated record just two years ago.

&uot;We were 10-0, then we went 0-10, now we’re going to go 10-0 again,&uot; said Matthew Bush.

Ten wins would guarantee them a berth in the playoffs, and would shut the mouths of naysayers.

Although they are treating the game against Flomaton with the utmost seriousness, the Tigers have a lot in their favor.

The Hurricanes lost their starting quarterback and running back from a year ago and will not return many seniors.

A win to start the season could be the confidence builder the Tigers need to play winning football once again.

But their goal isn’t just to win. They want to make a statement.

&uot;We want to win a regional championship and make it to the playoffs,&uot; said Travis Bush.

The playoffs look a long way off for a team that wasn’t even ranked in the pre-season polls.

But the Tigers believe in themselves – and that’s enough for them.

Coach Kirkland could not be reached for comment on this story.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m.