McKenzie shuts out Florala 53-0

Published 11:47 pm Friday, September 16, 2016

For McKenzie fans, Friday night’s matchup with the Florala Wildcats began with a very familiar sight—running back Chris Shufford taking a kickoff to the house for a touchdown.

But it quickly grew out of hand for the Tigers’ opponent, the winless Wildcats of Florala, as one score quickly doubled to two, four and, eventually, eight, to the tune of a 53-0 win.

A series of Florala 3-and-outs gave McKenzie a short field to work with, which Shufford and the Tigers  thoroughly exploited in a relentless ground game. 

Email newsletter signup

Shufford’s running prowess earned the Tigers their first three touchdowns in the first quarter alone, though it was wide receiver Seth Keeney who earned the biggest touchdown run of the night with 8:01 remaining in the first half.

A botched Florala punt on the ensuing drive set up McKenzie with its shortest field yet—6 yards—as Shufford punched it in once again for a 34-0 lead with 5:55 left in the half.

Shufford would pick up his fifth touchdown after a beautiful swim move earned him enough separation from the Florala front line before he escaped on a 28-yard touchdown run just before the first half.

McKenzie head football coach Tony Norris said that, on the heels of last week’s taxing game, he challenged his players to surpass that level of intensity.

“Everybody tells me that it’s hard to get a team back up and ready to play after a big and physical game like last week,” Norris said. “So I challenged them to dispel that myth.

“They came out here and started firing on all cylinders, which is what I want to do for any game—you want to start fast and make sure you assert yourself early in the game.”

The second half went much like the first—albeit with different players—as the Tigers’ second string preserved the momentum the team had earned in the first half.

Defensive back Elijah Presley earned some much-deserved time at the running back position with the Tigers’ comfortable 40-point cushion in the third, and proved capable of adding to it with a pair of strong touchdown runs.

McKenzie head football coach Tony Norris said that the valuable experience gained from younger players like Presley would prove vital down the road, as well as an opportunity for his starters to take a much-needed breather.

“It is a big help, because we’ve only got 24 kids,” Norris said. “It is a big help to make sure everybody stays healthy and ready to go for the next week.  And with us not having a JV team because I don’t have enough young guys, being able to get them some work is great.

“I’m glad when I can get them work, especially in a varsity game, because I’ve got a few that I had to tell we weren’t going to have a JV team, but they stayed with it, helped us in practice and made sure they worked hard just like the varsity guys.”

Next week’s opponent is the Barbour County Jaguars, a team the Tigers have never faced in the history of the program.

“I’m familiar with them, but I don’t know that much about them yet,” Norris said.

“So there will be a learning curve that we’ll check on this week and see, but the biggest thing is cleaning up things that we do wrong no matter who the opponent is.  We’ve got to continue improving and doing what we’re supposed to do.”

The Tigers will welcome the Jaguars for homecoming Friday, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.