McKenzie guns for fifth straight season win against Hillcrest

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Friday night will mark the first meeting between the McKenzie Tigers and the Hillcrest Evergreen Jaguars in an official capacity on the football field.

And while the Jaguars might be a new experience for McKenzie, they aren’t foreign to McKenzie head football coach Josh McLendon.

“Knowing the history of their program, it’s not really a new test for me,” McLendon said.

“I’ve been at Greenville, and we’ve always played Hillcrest in high school.  It will be new to McKenzie, but we’re going to treat this like any other game.  We’re just going to prepare hard all week and see what happens on Friday night.”

But the rest of the Tigers got a sneak peak at the Jaguars earlier this summer during the McKenzie-hosted 7-on-7 tournament, which also featured the neighboring rival Georgiana Panthers.

And while McLendon isn’t basing his entire game plan on a 7-on-7 tournament, it did provide a good opportunity to see what made the Jaguars offense tick.

“They’re very athletic, and they’re quarterback is a big, strong, athletic kid,” McLendon added.

“I think he might can throw it further than anybody I’ve ever seen.  He can launch it—he can really let it go.

“But they’re a physical football team.  They’re fast and athletic, and they’re well coached.  Coach Boykin does a good job with them.  He’s really come in there and turned them around over the last few years.”

While the Tigers are doing everything to prepare for Friday night, there is a void between the two teams that McKenzie can’t close—Hillcrest Evergreen is a 3A school, two full classifications above the Tigers.

But McLendon said that the classification difference is the reason why he scheduled the game in the first place.

“We feel that we want to play these types of teams that will push us and give us a look at what we might possibly face in the playoffs,” McLendon said.

“That was our mindset when we scheduled Hillcrest—that it would give us a good test that some of the bigger 1A schools might give us, also.”

A big, physical fullback and a speedy tailback round out a threatening backfield for the Jaguars offense, and McLendon admits the trio should prove a tough test for his Tigers.

But it’s a challenge he and his players are more than willing to accept.

“It’s going to be a tough test, but it’ll be a good test,” McLendon said.

“I’m looking forward to it.  I think it’s going to tell us a lot about where we’re at.”

The showdown at Hillcrest Evergreen begins at 7 p.m.