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McKenzie to face prove J.U. Blacksher team

McKenzie running back Jay Womack is one of five senior Tigers who have their eyes on the championship prize, but the team face one final regular season obstacle in the form of the 7-1 J.U. Blacksher Bulldogs Friday.  Despite being a non-area opponent, the Tigers could face the Bulldogs once again in postseason play.

McKenzie running back Jay Womack is one of five senior Tigers who have their eyes on the championship prize, but the team face one final regular season obstacle in the form of the 7-1 J.U. Blacksher Bulldogs Friday. Despite being a non-area opponent, the Tigers could face the Bulldogs once again in postseason play.

It’s smooth sailing as far as the McKenzie Tigers’ path to the playoffs, but one major obstacle remains ahead of them in the form of the J.U. Blacksher Bulldogs.

J.U. Blacksher (7-1) is a top dog in Class 1A Region 1, caught in a three-way tie for first place with two other one-loss teams.

According to Tony Norris, head coach of the McKenzie Tigers, it’s no small coincidence that the Tigers find themselves facing a playoff-caliber opponent just weeks prior to the start of the postseason.

“We want to look at the possibility of playing a good team like J.U. Blacksher that is certainly high in its area to get us ready for the playoffs,” Norris said.

“And you never know how the playoffs start; you may have to play them.  So it’s always a good thing to try to get us another measuring stick right here at the end of the season.”

The Bulldogs are as dangerous an opponent as McKenzie has faced, with a more-than-capable run and pass offense backed by a stout offensive line.

Similarly, a disruptive and sizeable Bulldogs defensive line has found itself in the backfield of many an opponent throughout the season.

The Bulldogs have outscored opponents 356-143 this season, and the offensive and defensive lines are a huge reason for the discrepancy between points scored and points allowed.

“They’re big and physical,” Norris said.

“They run and throw the ball pretty well, so it’s going to be one of those things where we’re going to have to know what we’re doing on defense at all times.

“Offensively, we’ve got to be able to control the line of scrimmage and hit them at the point of attack.  But they are a well-coached, big and very physical team.”

Norris said that special teams would prove equally important, as it cost the Tigers more often than not in last week’s narrow loss to the Brantley Bulldogs.

Though there are many areas of focus for the Tigers during this week’s practice, the biggest focus will lie in turning wasted opportunities—scooping up an opponent’s fumble, dropping an interception, finishing a drive in the red zone, etc.—into points.

“When momentum-swinging opportunities present themselves in a football game, we’ve got to take advantage of them,” Norris said.

“There are some things that we can do, but the biggest thing we’re harping on is taking care of ourselves. Now we know exactly where we are and build on that foundation to keep moving forward.”

The Tigers will travel to J.U. Blacksher Friday.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.