McKenzie started things in good stride as it won its jamboree battle 17-0 over McCracken Co., Ky. at Henry County Friday night.
Etijay Tharp scored on touchdown runs of 55 and 22 yards to stake the Rebels to a 14-0 lead. Then Zach Aird booted a 22-yard field goal as time expired to give the Rebels the victory.
McKenzie defeated host Lexington 2-1 in a scrimmage last Monday. Rashad McCreary suffered an injury on the second play of the scrimmage and was held out the rest of the way. Mr. Football finalist from a year ago Marquez Taylor was held out by a mild squad strain. McKenzie coach Wade Comer said both were okay and should be ready to play Friday at Huntingdon.
“I was very pleased with the effort. Our effort and intensity was good,” the coach said. “The line did well and got after them. Kids caught the ball well. Defensively, we got after them and were physical with them, too.”
Comer stated the obvious.
“Now it starts for real.”
The Rebels visit Paul Ward Stadium to take on the Huntingdon Mustangs, which presents McKenzie with a sense of urgency right off the bat.
“Through fall camp, you know you are coming out of the gate with an opponent like Huntingdon,” Comer said. “It puts a lot of pressure on you all through the off-season because you’re facing a high quality opponent.”
The Mustangs return seven starters, just two on offense, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be a sacrificial lamb.
“Huntingdon is going to be Huntingdon,” Comer said. “They’ll be very physical, they’ll get after you and it will be a dogfight to the end as it always is.”
The coach said he likes the progress he’s seen with his team in the pre-season, but knows the process is ongoing.
“We still have a lot of improvement to do, but the kids are pretty focused and working on what we need to work on to get better.”