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McKenzie faces playoff regular Sweet Water

For nearly a decade, one could set a watch by the Sweet Water Bulldogs’ tendency to run deep into the postseason. 

Since 2006, the Bulldogs have made it to the semifinal round of the playoffs seven times, walking away with state championships four times in the same period.

The Bulldogs migrated to Class 2A in 2012, where the team enjoyed similar success for a time.  But this year, Sweet Water has returned with their eyes on the Class 1A state championship yet again. 

Their first opponent is a McKenzie Tigers team that is acutely aware of the challenges that face them this Friday.

“They’ve pretty much picked up right where they left off from a few years ago,” said Tony Norris, head football coach of McKenzie. “Coach Thompson has done a great job over there of keeping the kids working hard and doing what they’re supposed to do.  It’s going to be a tough road challenge to start off the postseason with, but in the playoffs you’re going to have to play them anyway, whether it’s the first round or the third.  Our job is to get ready and get prepared the best way we can, and then go over there and execute.”

The Tigers have faced a regular season full of challenges both within and outside of their competitive region, but few bare any similarities to Sweet Water’s potent offense and defense.  The Bulldogs have outscored opponents 392-153 this season.

“They’re based out of the Wing T formation on offense, so that’ll be a little different for us,” Norris added.”We have faced a few teams in the past that have been Wing T, but there is a learning curve there.

“On defense, they give you multiple looks, so you have to be prepared to block a couple of different fronts against us.”

The Tigers have a secondary hurdle to overcome—the team’s 63-7 loss to the Brantley Bulldogs that ended the regular season on a low note.

But Norris reiterated that it’s important for his team to look forward, not behind.

“Whether it’s a 10-point loss to Georgiana or just a lopsided loss to Brantley, it’s only a bad thing if you don’t learn from it,” Norris said.

“Things didn’t go our way when we played Brantley, but I’ve really been impressed with the way the kids have moved on.  We had a real good practice yesterday, and I’m looking forward to getting out there today and getting a little bit better as we move through the week.”

“It happens everywhere—Arkansas against Auburn, Bielema’s over there scratching his head saying ‘what the heck happened.’ You’ve just got to flush it, move on and get over it because it’s not going to help us either way.  But as long as we learn from it, we’re doing good.”

The Tigers travel to Sweet Water Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.