McKenzie falls to Maplesville in second round

Published 11:59 pm Friday, November 14, 2014

McKenzie’s near-flawless season came to a close Friday night as the undefeated Maplesville Red Devils remained as such and defeated the Tigers 69-20.

But it was the Tigers who struck first, with the opening kickoff being taken back for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead.

The victory was short-lived however, despite the Tigers defense forcing a third-and-a-country-mile situation for the Red Devils offense.

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“We had them in a third and 30-something situation, and we just let a guy get behind us and they threw it up to one of their big receivers,” said McKenzie head football coach Josh McLendon.

“They scored on a touchdown and went ahead 7-6, and after that it was just pretty much all downhill.”

McLendon added that struggles on the offensive side of the ball plagued the Tigers for the duration of the night.

“We could never get anything going on offense.  They’re just a good team—they did a good job defensively,” McLendon said.

“They were just a lot faster than we were and more aggressive. Hats off to them.  They had a great game plan and executed well, and we wish them well in the third round.”

But McLendon saved the bulk of his appreciation for his own team, particularly his seniors who led an at-times short roster of Tigers to a 9-1 regular season.

“I’m really proud of these seniors this year.  It’s just been a great season overall,” McLendon said.

“Coming into the season overall with only 25 players and doing what we did, I think it was pretty good.  We were proud of them, the community and the school.  We’re just real thankful for these young men, and it’s been a great honor to coach these guys.”

McLendon added that though this is the end of the road for the 2014 playoffs, it’s not nearly the end for the Tigers.

The tough second-round matchup proved an invaluable resource for the Tigers, and it’s one that is sure to serve them well in the 2015 season.

“It’s very valuable any time you can play a team like that and see how you stack up against them,” McLendon said.

“I’ve just always believed that you learn a lot more from a loss than a win.  We just have to go back to work and get better.”

Fortunately, he’ll have an impressive junior and sophomore class returning to lend a hand.

“We’re going to continue to work and continue to try to get better,” McLendon said.

“If we get on the weights and do the things we have to do to be successful, and we’ll be fine.”