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What A Ride!

By Jim Potts
jpotts@mckenziebanner.com
Posted 6/28/22

I returned to work at the Banner last August the week after McKenzie started the 2021 football season.

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What A Ride!

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I returned to work at the Banner last August the week after McKenzie started the 2021 football season. While beating your rivals is always nice, my initial thoughts were the Rebels were off to a solid start to the season. A deep playoff run started creeping into my mind after several lopsided wins and a close call against Dresden which really shouldn’t have been close. A run to the State Championship didn’t really hit me until the Moore County blowout. Then, I felt like they were going the distance and had chances to win it all.

Golf was in play during the fall as well as Lady Rebel Soccer. Lady Rebel Golf was the first of six McKenzie teams that reached the state level. Football was next losing a hard-fought game to South Pittsburg in the Class 1A State Championship.

Meanwhile, basketball season started well before football ended. The Lady Rebels ran unbeaten for several games while the Rebels sported a 5-1 record with a 7-man roster until football season ended and more help became available. Then, the boys went toe-to-toe with everyone. The Lady Rebels lost 2 games to teams that went deep in the playoffs and still crafted a 31-2 season.

Once basketball playoffs began, both the Rebels and Lady Rebels got even tougher to beat and punched their tickets to the state tournaments. The Lady Rebels had not been there since 1963. As you know by now, the Lady Rebels won the Class A State Championship. The Rebels played hard but fell short of reaching the title game.

So while the extended basketball season was winding down, baseball, softball and boys soccer were getting underway. Soccer started off strong as did baseball, softball struggled early on but settled down and won the games they needed to win to have a successful season. Rebel Soccer made it all the way to the State Tournament losing in the first round. Baseball survived a crazy State Tournament interfered with by Mother Nature reaching the State Championship losing a close 2-1 game to Eagleville. Softball made it all the way to the sectionals before their season ended.

Here is the grand total of what the McKenzie athletic teams accomplished in this last year. The Lady Rebels and Rebels won seven district titles and seven region titles. Six teams reached sectionals or substate. Six teams reached their respective state tournaments. Not many schools can claim that much success in the same year. Congratulations to the players, coaches and anyone else involved with the athletic teams this year. It was quite a ride!

I am sure people are already talking about next year and quite honestly the opportunity to take this ride again is very good. I’m not sure how many seniors the soccer teams graduated but the golf teams are returning most of their talent. Football only lost six seniors mostly off the offensive and defensive lines. The entire offensive backfield from last year is back and the schedule is the same as last year with only locations changing. The defending Class A State Champion Lady Rebels lost one senior in Dani Dyer. Everyone else is back. Rebel basketball lost Zayden McCaslin and returns everyone else. The softball team lost two seniors and the baseball team lost three seniors. Get my drift here? Buckle up because this roller coaster ride will be taking off again shortly after the TSSAA Dead Period when all sports take a two-week break from organized off-season activities.

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