McKenzie prepping for ‘one-game season’

Published 4:42 pm Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Turning things around from the 3-7 season a year ago to an 8-2 record this season is a victory in and of itself for McKenzie School.

But for head coach Josh McLendon, it’s not the victory that matters most.

“We look at this as a second season — the regular season was great, but everybody’s record right now is 0-0,” McLendon said.

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“Everybody’s starting with a clean slate. It’s a one-game season, and you’ve got to approach every day like it could be your last.”

The Tigers are doing all they can to ensure that Friday night won’t be their last with their home matchup with Wadley High School (4-6) which, despite some difficulties winning against out-of-region opponents, put together a string of key wins to make a playoff bid in the final stretch of the regular season.

But as far as practice routines go, nothing changes.

“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing as far as practice goes, and I’ll probably lighten the load to give the kids a break,” McLendon said. “It’s been a long season and a long summer, and the kids at this point are just ready to play football.”

Lightening the load means scaling back the practice routine to avoid unnecessary injuries, as the Tigers are still missing starting quarterback Terrance Clemons, who suffered an ankle injury several weeks ago.

“He’s still day-to-day, but he’s progressing very well,” McLendon said.

“He’s been cleared to practice, but we’re still not sure about Friday night as far as with him playing. It’s been a while since (Terrance) has played in a game, so we’re going to be careful with how we monitor him and not do anything drastic.”

And despite the fact that McKenzie faces a number of unknowns heading into Friday night’s battle with Wadley — a team the Tigers has never faced before — one threat has made itself readily apparent, if only for his jersey’s number.

For McLendon, stopping No. 34 will be key.

“He’s a very impressive player, and he’s just a 10th grader, but it seems like he’s gotten over 100 yards every game,” McLendon said. “Trying to stop him and slow him down is going to be our focus, and on defense he’s their middle linebacker that makes plays and does what they need him to do. He’s a good player and I actually look forward to seeing him play.”

But most of all, the Tigers aim to jumpstart their offense that struggled to put points on the board in last Thursday’s 20-14 loss to Goshen High School.

“Our offense has got to be able to sustain some drives,” McLendon said.

“We have a lot of two-way players, but we’ve got to be able to give them a bit of a break on defense. If we’re able to do that, we’ll be OK.”

Kickoff between the Eagles and the Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m. on Friday night in McKenzie.