No. 9 McKenzie sticking with what works

Published 3:17 pm Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A 6-1 region record and home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs doesn’t mean that McKenzie School head coach Josh McLendon can rest on his laurels at the finish line.

Though Thursday night’s battle with Goshen High School has no affect whatsoever on the Tigers’ playoff picture, it is still a battle that McLendon very much hopes to win.

Moreover, he knows that the same applies to Goshen.

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“They seem real gritty on film. They play really, really hard and they’re very athletic. I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen so far,” McLendon said. “They’re a playoff team, so it’s going to be a tough game.”

Similarly, the Eagles have secured their postseason future with a convincing 41-0 rout of Zion Chapel High School.

But it’s become clear to McLendon that the Eagles are not concerned with the future, but the present.

“I think that no matter what their record is and no matter where they’re at — in the playoffs or not — I think they’re going to play hard no matter what,” McLendon said. “I think that’s the type of kids that they have and how they’re coached.”

With the season winding down, the absence of quarterback Terrance Clemons is one that grows increasingly noticeable for the Tigers, though McLendon remains hopeful that he could return for the playoffs.

Instead, the Tigers are focusing on the same three tenants that have gotten them this far.

“We’ve got to play well on defense — we’ve got to tackle well,” McLendon said. “We can’t turn the ball over on offense, and we’ve got to play well on special teams. Nothing changes. We focus on those three phases of the game and, if we can win all three, we feel pretty confident.”

The Tigers and Eagles face off to conclude the regular season on Thursday at 7 p.m. in McKenzie.