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McKenzie summer workouts, search for leadership begin

Positivity bristled through the McKenzie varsity football team at the conclusion of a productive season of spring training, but head coach Tony Norris said that the summer road ahead of the Tigers is a long one.

“We started just this week in the weight room and with agilities, and we’re just trying to take advantage of what the state allows us to do,” Norris said. “Because at a Class 1A school, I have a lot of kids that play three sports, so I’m giving them a little time to catch their breath.

“We’re trying to get a little bit quicker and faster to get ready to go for the season, so that’s what we’re mainly going to focus on this summer.”

The Tigers are in the midst of an experimental phase that traces its roots all the way back to last fall. And while Norris has gone back to the drawing board on a few changes, just as many have borne fruit, as evidenced by the Tigers’ strong showing during the Butler County Jamboree at the conclusion of spring training.

“We tried to do some different things in the fall, which I really feel like halfway through last season fit us better as a team,” Norris said.

“I could see where we could be more successful doing certain things—different formations, different philosophies on the offensive side of the ball.  We lay a bit of the foundation last season, and we added a little more in the spring.  We’re trying to take it piece by piece, all while trying not to put too much on the kids at the same time.”

Norris also has to combat the ever-present personnel changes presented each year, and the graduating class of 2016 left a few sizable vacancies on the team.

Fortunately, Norris is confident that a number of up-and-comers can fill the void left behind.

“You lose a kid like Condie Pugh or Jay Womack, and you have younger kids who’ve just got to step up,” Norris said.

“I’m looking forward to that aspect, honestly, because we’ve got a couple of kids that we’ve pinpointed that I think can help replace those guys and be an important part of the team.”