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Numbers on the board

Tigers aim to wrangle in high-powered Mustang offense

McKenzie’s first-round opponent, the Isabella Mustangs, is a team gunning for a shootout, and that’s the last thing the Tigers want.

McKenzie head football coach Josh McLendon praised a potent Mustangs offense that has outscored opponents 278-122 during eight games in the 2014 regular season.

“They took out the 12th ranked offense in the state in 1A, so they score a lot of points and they’re playing really well right now,” McLendon said.

“They’ve got nine seniors that play really hard for them, and play really well.  We expect a good game and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

When scoring 10 points or more, the Mustangs have won 74 of the past 121 games played since 2000.

But when scoring 20 points or more, that win-loss ratio climbs significantly to 74 wins and only 21 losses.

And the Mustangs have only lost once in the past 14 years when wrangling in 40 points or more.

McLendon said that leadership is the key to Isabella’s success in 2014, as nine seniors lead the Isabella offense and defense.

Meanwhile, the Tigers have made the playoff push with six seniors at the helm.

But the relatively small team size is no excuse for lack of success in the postseason.

“When you get to the playoffs, it’s about will, determination and who wants to continue to play,” McLendon added.

“That’s what it comes down to.  It’s not about how many players you have.  It’s about how badly you want to continue to play into November and December.”

Fortunately for McKenzie, the bye week at the end of the regular season has effectively given them two weeks of preparation.

“We’re getting back to being as healthy as we’ve been all year, which was sort of our goal when we set the schedule back in January and February,” McLendon said.

McLendon also divvied up the two-week period evenly between rest and work, taking the extra time to spit-polish the fundamentals that have allowed the Tigers to host the first round of the playoffs for two consecutive years.

And the importance of home field advantage certainly isn’t lost on McLendon.  After all, it’s what they’ve fought to hard for all season long.

“People around here have always been very supportive of us, and we look forward to having them out Friday night, also,” McLendon said.

“It’s home field advantage, so we look forward to everybody coming out and supporting us like they’ve done all year, and hopefully we can give them something good to look at.”