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McKenzie faces battle in trenches in region opener with Pleasant Home

The McKenzie Tigers have clipped the wings of the Pleasant Home Eagles for two years running now, but to assume that doing so a third time would be just as easy is a folly of epic proportions.

Just ask McKenzie head football coach Josh McLendon, who enters his second year with the Tigers bent on proving that hard work wins championships, not numbers.

But the Tigers have a different type of math to contend with during Friday’s game with the Eagles.

“They’ve got some very big guys up front, and I think they’re going to put a little pressure on defense and just ground-and-pound it, as I call it,” McLendon said.

“Defensively, they do a good job of bringing pressure up the middle and off the edges.  It’s going to be a tough test.  It’s a tough place to play, and we’ve got to go out and have a good week of practice and be ready to go.”

When the opposing team has a size advantage, discipline and technique become the tools of the trade used to even the odds.

But according to McLendon being smaller has its own set of perks.

“We hope our quickness will be an advantage for us, also,” McLendon added.

“There are some advantages to having size.  There are also some advantages to having quickness, so we’re hoping our quickness will help us Friday.”

Despite the inherent challenges presented when facing a larger team, McLendon’s approach hasn’t changed much from last season.

The Tigers are less concerned with the Eagles this week at practice and are more concerned with focusing on getting better at what they do well.

But getting lined up properly, learning assignments and giving full effort are each far more important than any knowledge gained from watching Pleasant Home on film.

A host of Tigers answered McLendon’s challenge in last week’s season opener with Highland Home, but none were as loud as Chris Shufford with a game-high 15 tackles.

McLendon isn’t sure who will be the player to watch Friday, but perhaps it’s for the best.

“I hope it’s everybody, but I just don’t know,” McLendon said.

“I’m looking for some other guys to get involved, but we’re going to take what the defense gives us. We’re going to spread the ball around if we can. But if we have to run it, we can run it and if we have to throw it, we can throw it.

“We hope we can come out on the right end, but for the most part we’re just going to try to play hard and see what happens.”