McKenzie aiming for third straight win over Wildcats

Published 6:27 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

2016 hasn’t been kind to the McKenzie Tigers’ next opponent, the Florala Wildcats.

The team sits at 0-3, and opponents have outscored the Wildcats 160-21 in that three-week span.

But McKenzie head football coach Tony Norris said that his team must avoid underestimating the Wildcats Friday, simply because anything can happen in Class 1A on any given Friday night.

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“The biggest thing is we’ve got to get our players to understand that any given Friday night, someone can come in here and beat you if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do,” Norris said.

“That’s the message that I’m trying to send to them.  Throw out records; we play this team this week and that’s what we’re worried about.  It’s a chance to get another region win, which we need to get into the playoffs.  So we need to have a focused week of practice, a focused game plan and execute that game plan on Friday night.”

Execution is a large part of any team’s success, though there was a noticeable lack for McKenzie Friday as the Tigers lost five fumbles to the Houston County Lions.

Despite walking away with a win, it’s a performance that Norris isn’t looking to duplicate.

“We’re focusing on the little things that have a big impact this week,” Norris said.

“Ball security, blocking and tackling are the things that we’ve got to get better at.  I say all the time the team that improves most from the beginning of the season to the end of the season has the chance to do something special.  So we’ll be focusing on a lot of fundamentals, along with some schemes that Florala has.”

The Tigers must also contend with a dwindling roster as the season goes on. McKenzie starting quarterback Daniel Gaston taking a nasty hit near the opposing Houston County sideline Friday before the half, and sat out the entire second half.  According to Norris, Gaston’s return Friday is questionable.  Fortunately, McKenzie has the most experienced No. 2 quarterbacks in the county in William Brown.

Though, since Brown’s starting fullback position must also be filled, some roster shuffling is unavoidable.  But Norris said that’s all a part of Class 1A football.

“I can remember as a defensive coordinator here I’d have a guy learn one position Monday, another position Tuesday, come back to his primary position on Wednesday and Thursday go back to the secondary position,” Norris said.

“That’s just a part of it, and you prepare the best you can.”