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McKenzie aims to finish season strong

The McKenzie Tigers’ final regular season opponent, J.U. Blacksher, is from the same division, but a different region.  But if one were to ask McKenzie head football coach Josh McLendon on the importance of the game, he’d say the same thing he’s been saying all year long—every game is important.

But what he would add is that this might be the most important non-region game of all.

It’s the final contest of the regular season, meaning every other game from here on out will be against a playoff-caliber team.

It’s also the game following the Tigers’ first loss at the hands of the Brantley Bulldogs last Friday.

“We want to get that taste out of our mouth from last week, so I think it’s very important to end the season on a good note,” McLendon said.

“I think it’s just that we didn’t play really well, and Brantley played great.  We’re looking to get back on track this week.”

The Tigers face a different breed of Bulldogs in J.U. Blacksher, who are sitting comfortably at 6-2 in Region 1, and they’re a team that has no difficulty putting points on the board.

With a season-low of 20, the Bulldogs have averaged nearly 37 points per game across eight weeks.

But McLendon is equally worried about J.U. Blacksher’s solid defense, who have kept opponents hovering in the range of three scores in their six wins.

“They’re a good, solid team, and they’ve had a great season so far,” McLendon added.

“They’re doing a good job offensively and defensively, and they’ve come ready to play.  So we’re expecting a good matchup and looking forward to the test.”

McKenzie has been fortunate in one regard—their scheduled bye week is the final one of the season.  And as far as McLendon is concerned, it couldn’t come at a better time.

“I think it’s going to give us a chance to heal some bumps and bruises that we have,” McLendon said.

“It’s just a little extra time to prepare for the playoffs, so I’m looking forward to having that week without a game and just being able to focus on us and our fundamentals and get ready for the playoffs when they start.”

The final home game of the season also doubles as senior night for six players on the McKenzie Tigers team, and McLendon is looking to send his seniors off in an appropriate fashion.

“We want to win this one for them.  This is their last regular season game and they’ve had a good career, so we want to end this last regular season game on the right note for them.   Hopefully, it’ll be a good night. We’re looking forward to getting back on the field and showing that we’re a good football team.”

The Tigers will aim to punctuate the season with an exclamation point Friday at home beginning at 7 p.m.