Improved Florala team to challenge McKenzie

Published 6:15 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A familiar foe awaits McKenzie as the Tigers hit the road to face its third regional opponent in the Florala Wildcats.

In 2016, the Tigers put away the Wildcats decisively with a 53-0 shutout.  But both the teams involved and the circumstances are different this year, according to McKenzie head football coach Tony Norris.

Both teams sit at 1-1 in region play, and it’s a make-or-break moment for the Tigers and the Wildcats at a pivotal fork in the road of their respective seasons.

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“Florala is a much-improved football team from last year,” Norris said.

“They were really young last year, so they’ve gotten a lot of player experience from the previous season and it’s helped them.  Coach Mason is a first-year head coach down there, and he’s doing a good job of getting those guys to play hard and be competitive.”

The Wildcats enter the game on the heels of its delivering of a 67-28 thrashing to the Red Level Tigers to secure their first region win.  Previously, the Wildcats posted the most points on the Georgiana Panthers than any other team this year, which may seem like an odd metric until one considers that the Wildcats’ company includes the likes of New Brockton.

“Offensively, they do a good job of running their system,” Norris continued. “It’s more of a spread offense, and they’ve got a good quarterback who can distribute the ball. 

“Defensively, I’m impressed with the way they play with a lot of effort. They fly to the football and gang tackle, and that’s half the battle on defense.”

Falling to 1-2 is not the end of the world for either team at this point in the season, with McKenzie having four remaining region games after this Friday night’s game.

Regardless, Norris called Friday a must-win scenario for two reasons:  being behind places an added pressure on a team and, perhaps more pressingly, two of the remaining four region games are against Georgiana and Brantley, two of the region’s biggest threats.

“We’ve got a lot of must-win scenarios, to be honest,” Norris said. “You’ve got a couple of teams left the play that have finished No. 1 and 2 in the region for the past couple of years. 

“It’s a big challenge right there for us not only for the region, but to put a stake in our season at a fork in the road and turn things around a little bit.”

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