McKenzie bounces back, shuts out Jags

Published 11:48 pm Friday, September 29, 2017

The McKenzie Tigers found the collective pep in their steps on the road Thursday by handing the Barbour County Jaguars a blistering 35-0 defeat.

An unstoppable run game with Elijah Presley at the helm—who surged for more than 200 yards on the ground and scored all five of the Tigers’ touchdowns—paved the way to victory, but the Tigers’ defense sealed it with six forced turnovers, including two interceptions from Daniel Gaston.

McKenzie head football coach Tony Norris said that despite last week’s loss to Florala, he’d hoped to carry the strong second-half momentum of that game into this week’s game.  It was mostly successful.

“I thought we had a good second half last week, and I challenged the team to continue that,” Norris said.

Most of the focus Thursday was on controlling the ground attack and, by extension, the game clock.

“We did try to throw it a little bit, but we really tried to concentrate on the run game this week to try to shorten the game,” he continued.

“With a lot of people out, we’ve got so many guys having to go both ways.  I wanted to try to shorten the game to try to help us.”

Norris credited the win to his defensive unit that stuck to its game plan and tackled consistently well the entire night.

“I felt like there were several guys who had an exceptional game, and Coach Coghlan put together a great game plan,” Norris said.

“They flew to the football a bit better than they had in the past, and we got a couple of turnovers  and fumble recoveries that went our way.”

With momentum reestablished, the stage is set for the Tigers to return to their home field after a tough three-game stretch on the road to face their next regional opponent, the Kinston Bulldogs.

Not much is known about the team, which experienced a coaching change this season.  But if history is any indication, Norris expects a tough fight.

“I’m sure they’ll be coached well, as always,” he said.  “And I’m sure they’ll be good, hard-nosed and gritty kids who will want to compete.”

The biggest contender the Tigers face next week might be themselves, however, as homecoming distractions loom on the horizon.

“I spent about five minutes in the post-game huddle talking to them, and I asked them what’s more important—homecoming or a region win?  We want to focus on the right thing.”

The Tigers will host the Bulldogs for homecoming Friday.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.