McKenzie closes spring training on the road with two tough teams

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, May 20, 2014

McKenzie traveled to the state border to find a suitable spring jamboree challenge in Flomaton and Escambia County, and it’s just what they found as the Flomaton Hurricanes and the Escambia County Blue Devils both defeated McKenzie in a pair of exhibition games 28-8 and 20-0 respectively.

Despite the tough losses, McKenzie head coach Josh McLendon said that the score was the least of his concerns Friday night.

“Our intentions going down there were to see if we could do the things right that we had worked on this spring, and we did, as far as getting lined up and our calls and running the right plays and just doing things like that,” McLendon said.

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“We were more or less looking to get some game film out of it where we could correct all of our mistakes and see what we needed to work on this summer, and I think we did that.”

The other challenge facing the Tigers was the fact that both schools were noticeably larger—Flomaton is one of the largest 2A schools in the state, and Escambia County is a sizeable 4A school, as well.

But the David-Golliath scenario is no coincidence—it was all according to McLendon’s plan.

“We were probably a little in over our head, but we wanted to play against some good competition and see where we were at and what we needed to work on,” McLendon added.

“If we’re going to go deep into the playoffs, then we’re going to have to beat the bigger 1A schools and those teams that have more students and more players and things like that.”

Among the issues made apparent from watching film on Friday’s game is an increased importance on nailing down the fundamentals moving into the summer, including tackling, blocking, catching and—most importantly—continuing January’s trend of attacking the weight room.

To that end, the McKenzie Tigers’ summer vacation has been effectively trimmed to two weeks, as the summer regime kicks up on June 3.

But McLendon is also thinking outside the box to improve his team in other ways—some of which don’t even pertain to football.

“Losing the players that we lost last year, we’ve got to establish some leadership and find some guys that want to step up and take on the role of team leader and stuff like that, so we’re going to do some things like that this summer, get in shape and have fun at the same time,” McLendon said.

“We’re going to spend time just enjoying each other’s company, learning how to get along with others and learning what it means to be a good teammate and a good person.  That’s what we’re going to try to focus on in terms of stuff that I think makes you successful on and off the field.”