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Tigers gunning for momentum in season opener with Highland Home

The McKenzie Tigers didn’t tie the neatest of bows on their preseason experience after losing a narrow 8-6 jamboree to the Goshen Eagles.

But McKenzie head football coach Tony Norris is looking to right that wrong Friday against the Highland Home Flying Squadron.

“It’s vital to start on the right foot,” Norris said. “It gives us a little bit of confidence.  I’m a firm believer in momentum throughout a game, and throughout a season.

“So it’s vital for us to get some momentum going heading into our first region game next week.”

The preseason experience with Goshen was a good litmus test for the Tigers, however, and the brief experience will help inform the weeks to come, especially this week’s practices.

“The biggest thing is that we got some stuff on film to get ready for the regular season,” Norris said.

“And just playing two 10-minute quarters worked out just fine for us.  I don’t need to play a whole game to understand where the team is.  So I think it was a good sample size to figure out where we’re at and what we’ve got to work on to get better.”

The lessons for the Tigers were numerous, but the biggest of all was the apparent attention McKenzie will place on taking care of the football.

Three turnovers spelled doom for the Tigers in Thursday night’s jamboree, including a late-game fumble just feet away from the end zone and a preseason win.

The Tigers face a Flying Squadron team that is–on paper, at least–very similar to their own.  Both teams are relatively young, sporting only seven seniors between them both.

Both teams also have first-year head coaches at the helm.

But for Norris, it’s less about specific matchups and the X’s and O’s, and it’s more about concerning himself with the things he can control.

“We’re going to worry about us,” Norris said.

“I talked to (Highland Home head coach Gregg Baker), and he’s a good guy, from what I can tell.  But I’m sure that, just like anybody who’s in this business of coaching, he’s going to have his kids ready to play.  And so we’ve got to do the same thing on our end.”

According to Norris, there are three keys to victory for the Tigers in Friday night’s matchup.

“The biggest things are that we’ve got to execute on offense, we’ve got to know our alignment and assignment and fly to the football on defense, and we’ve got to make sure we’re solid in the kicking game,” Norris said.

“I’ve seen too many times, especially early in the season, how the kicking game can either get you a win or cause you to lose.”

The Tigers will travel to Highland Home Friday for its first regular season opponent.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.