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McKenzie preps for playoffs against Class 3A Hillcrest Evergreen

The playoffs are still a ways off for the McKenzie Tigers, but the team is gearing up for a midseason sneak preview in this week’s Class 3A opponent, the Hillcrest Evergreen Jaguars.

Tony Norris, McKenzie’s head football coach, said that though the Tigers won’t face them in the postseason, the Jaguars could serve as an early litmus test for McKenzie’s level of preparedness.

“We’re approaching it as one of those games where we may see some time of team like this in the playoffs,” Norris said.

“So we’re sort of approaching it as a midseason playoff game, where we’re trying to get ready for somebody that may be more physical than teams we usually play, and with more players.”

The meeting is also something of a crossroads for Hillcrest Evergreen, who enters the game at 2-2 on the season and 1-2 in the region.

That, coupled with their sizeable roster and speed, make them a force to be reckoned with.

“They’ve got a lot of athletes to put on the field, and they’re well coached,” Norris said. “Coach (Clinton) Smith is in his first year, and he’s doing a great job with them.

“On offense, they’ll run multiple formations, so that’s always a challenge for a defense.  You’ve got to make sure that you’re lined up correctly, and be aware of what type of play could be coming.  Defensively, they’ll be a 3-4 or 3-3 stack, and they fly to the football.  They’ve got a lot of kids on the sideline and not many kids playing both ways, so they’ll be able to keep people fresh during the game.”

Friday doubles as senior night for McKenzie, and though there are only five on the Tigers’ roster, it doesn’t lessen the desire to send them off properly.

“Any time we have senior night or homecoming, you obviously want to send out the seniors with a win,” Norris said.

“That’s our goal, and it’s also to try to get prepared for the type of team we may play later in the season.  It’s going to be a good, fun night, but it’s also going to be a challenging one. I’d rather play someone of this caliber than someone who can’t match us speed or athleticism-wise, because it’s going to challenge us in the end.  I want to see how we balance back from last week, and I want to use it as a measuring stick for the rest of the year.”

The Tigers are set to host the Jaguars Friday night at 7 p.m.