McKenzie to treat homecoming ‘like any other game’

Published 5:03 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The McKenzie Tigers face a battle on two fronts Friday with the Red Level Tigers, both on and off the field.

It’s homecoming week for McKenzie, and with it brings a host of celebrations for students, athletes and the neighboring community alike.

And while nothing is inherently wrong with celebrating homecoming, McKenzie head football coach Josh McLendon said that it often poses its own unique set of problems for players.

“We’re just trying to keep it like any other week. We hope they’ll be mentally strong enough to block out all of the distractions,” McLendon said.

“We talk about the fact that homecoming is for everybody else—it’s for the student body.  And the reward for the players is on Friday night.  That’s what they get to experience, so we hope we can be disciplined enough to do what we need to do and not get distracted by whatever it is that’s going on and let the boys know that they’re playing for Friday night.”

McKenzie aims to defend its homecoming honor against a 1-4 Red Level team that has struggled this season, but McLendon added that discrediting one’s opponent is the first step to failure.

“It’s a big rivalry.  We’re not very far apart.  We’ve got to understand that we’re going to treat this game just like any other game, no matter what the opposing team’s record is,” McLendon said.

“We’re going to treat this just like it’s the most important game of the year, because it is.  We’re going to go out and play hard, and hopefully be able to execute on both sides of the ball and on special teams.”

Taking things one day at a time has become a mantra of sorts for McKenzie, and it’s a mindset that has paid off in dividends given the Tigers’ success in the 2014 season.

But the mentality that McLendon and his players have adhered to means that none of them have taken much time to notice their recent successes.

Appropriately, they aren’t looking to postseason play until the final game of the regular season is over.

“If we handle business, then the playoffs will be there,” McLendon said.

“We feel like no matter what seed you are in the playoffs, you’re in.  And once you get in, anything can happen.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-seed or a four-seed.  Everybody’s record is 0-0 when the playoffs start.  We’re just going to continue to focus on one day and getting better that day, and we’ve got a lot of room for improvement.  And as long as we do that, I think we’ll be just fine.”

McKenzie will square off with Red Level at home beginning at 7 p.m.