For the last couple weeks, the Banner staff has been hunkered down prepping for the upcoming football season. Each year we publish our gridiron guide along with a host of football programs for area schools. While it is a painstaking process, we take pride in what we do and feel honored to help the schools.
For the last six years, I’ve helped to gather content and other aspects of the “pre-season.” Like clockwork, as we roll into week one, I think back on various football seasons, either spent on the sidelines or in booths as a member of a team’s staff or the newspaper’s staff. I can recall from my high school days all the way to last season, local teams saying, “This is going to be the year.”
Going through the books last week, I found a recap from McKenzie’s 2007 TSSAA State Championship Runner-Up season. This was their most prolific season to date. Looking at some of the names of the boys/kids in the story, it’s impressive to see how they continued to be successful with football after high school; especially Derick Carr and Tyler Reeder.
Here is the story of the 2007 Rebels most of which can be attributed to Terry Howell.
14 years ago, the McKenzie High School Rebel football team etched its mark in the history books with the school’s most successful season ever: a 13-2 record and a state championship appearance.
They came up short in the title game, falling 52-20 to the speedy Pirates from South Pittsburg at MTSU’s Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, to finish as the Class A Runner-Up and a Number 2 state ranking.
The road the Murfreesboro began with the Rebels opening the newly-renovated home side at Rebel Field and trouncing the Dresden Lions, 41-0. It was the first of five shutouts on the season, tying a school record.
In Week 2, the Rebels traveled to Bruceton to face the favored Central Tigers, shutting out the Region 7A rivals, 35-0.
The team traveled again in Week 3 and found themselves trailing late to the Trenton-Peabody Golden Tide.
The McKenzie comeback failed and the Tide scored again to hand the Rebels their first and only regular-season loss, 34-24.
McKenzie bounced back in a big way in Week 4, hosting the Union City Golden Tornadoes. The Rebels were again behind the eight ball, trailing by a dozen in the fourth quarter. Three scores down the stretch and just enough defensive stops sealed the Rebel comeback, 42-39.
To follow up that dramatic win, the Rebels traveled to Huntingdon and beat the Mustangs, 28-19. It was the first time McKenzie had beaten their fiercest rivals in two consecutive seasons since 1955.
Week 6 was Homecoming for McKenzie, and the Rebels celebrated with a 36-0 shutout of Gleason.
Touted as a potential region upset, Greenfield opened Week 7 with a quick score and two-point conversion, but the Rebels responded with 41 unanswered points for the win.
Week 8 saw McKenzie earn its second-largest victory in history, a 68-0 shutout of the West Carroll War Eagles.
The dominance continued the next week when McKenzie hosted the Lake County Falcons for a 50-0 win.
The Rebels closed out the season with another big win, 48-7 over South Fulton.
McKenzie hosted all four of its playoff contests leading up to the neutral-site title game.
First, the Rebels bested the Halls Tigers, 47-7, in McKenzie’s most lopsided playoff victory ever.
A week later, the Fayette Academy Vikings fared only marginally better, losing to the surging Rebels, 28-7.
The quarterfinal round brought Trinity Christian Academy to Rebel Field. A close game at the half, McKenzie blew away the Lions down the stretch for a 48-21 win.
Win or lose, the semifinal against Mt. Pleasant was the historic team’s final game at home, and it took all the Rebels had to secure a spot in the championship. Tiger Marco Dailey, the reigning Mr. Football, had 294 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in addition to a long touchdown pass. The Rebel offense matched the visitors score for score, led by quarterback Derek Carr with 140 yards and four touchdowns on 8 of 11 passing. Rusty Chapman caught a pair of touchdowns, while Kyle Kirk and Jacob Fussell each had another. Tyler Moore ran in for the go-ahead score late, and then Clint Kee had two interceptions to stifle any Tiger comeback. When the dust settled, the Rebel faithful celebrated a 35-32 win and began making plans for a monumental trip to Middle Tennessee.
The enormous contingency of Rebel fans that made the journey to the title game left disappointed, but proud.
It was a rough first quarter that dashed McKenzie’s championship dreams as South Pittsburg scored twice on its first four snaps. Then, in the second frame, with the Rebels trailing, 21-0, a promising drive turned into a Pirate touchdown on a controversial (and clearly incorrect) call. Rusty Chapman caught a pass and was working for extra yards when he was tackled while lurching forward. Several seconds after his knee went down, he stretched the ball forward, and it came loose. During the confusion of the officials, a Pirate defender picked up the ball and ran it in for a touchdown.
At the half, McKenzie trailed, 34-0, and South Pittsburg added two more scores in the third.
Facing sure defeat, the Rebels didn’t quit in the final frame and put up 20 points against The Pirates’ first defensive unit. Carr had touchdown passes to Tyler Moore, Rusty Chapman and Kyle Kirk, making for a more respectable final score of 52-20 and giving the loyal fans something to cheer about before a long trip home.
Carr threw for a season-high 301 yards on 19 of 37 passing with three touchdowns. He threw eight passes to Rusty Chapman for 88 yards and a touchdown. Clint Kee caught four for 70 yards, and Shabree Payne had four catches for 65. Kyle Kirk caught three tosses for 54 yards and a touchdown, and Tyler Moore’s lone catch was a 24-yard score. Jacob Fussell lead the Rebel’s ground game with 40 yards on five carries. Tyler Moore rushed ten times for 28 yards. Carr also did the punting, kicking five for 197 yards with a long punt of 44 yards.
John Campbell led the defense with eight tackles (seven solo) including one for a loss. Jacob Fussell had five, all solo, with one for a loss, and Quinton Bowden had four solos, one for a loss. Tyler Reeder and Austin Winstead each had three solo tackles.