McKenzie aims to avoid distractions

Published 3:44 pm Tuesday, October 1, 2013

McKenzie School has met every challenge it has faced this season on the way to a 5-0 start.

Friday it will face a different sort of challenge — homecoming.

McKenzie head coach Josh McLendon’s message to his players heading into the week’s festivities and Friday’s showdown with Kinston High School is a simple one.

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“The main message is staying focused on us, and not getting caught up in the distractions of homecoming,” McLendon said.

And that means focusing on what’s important as far as preparing each day at practice, as well as having a clear mind and understanding of what’s at stake.

Being fully prepared for Friday night is paramount above all else to McLendon.

“We just try to tell our players that homecoming is for the student body, the fans and the alumni,” McLendon said. “But our players’ reward is Friday night. It is pretty important to have the support of the fans, but we don’t want it to be a distraction as far as what goes on.”

Equally distressing is Kinston’s newfound sense of confidence.

After dropping the first two games to Samson High School and Brantley High School, the Bulldogs have won their past three games by putting up 41 points in each contest while allowing an average of just nine points per game.

“They’re a very physical team, and they play very, very hard,” McLendon said. “I think that they’re looking forward to this game and they’re coming in here with the expectation to win, which they should be. So it’s going to be very tough. This is going to be a game where we have to once again play all four quarters and be ready for a physical football game.”

But the McKenzie hard-nosed, fundamental-oriented style of football that has defined the first half of the season is McLendon’s key to victory.

“Play good on defense and special teams, and on offense just execute and not turn the ball over,” McLendon added. “And I think if we do those three things, we’ll be fine.”

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.