4 Keys to success for the Raiders second round playoff game against McKenzie on Friday

LOCAL SPORTS | The post season sledding is a little uphill in Class A football with four Top 10 teams sitting in the Region 5 and Region 6 side of the bracket: Fayetteville, McKenzie, Moore County, and Dresden. Often, teams who could absolutely play for the state title wind up meeting well beforehand. That’s what’s gonna happen on Friday night in Carroll County when #5 Moore County (10-1, 5-1) travels to #2 McKenzie (11-0, 6-0) for a second round playoff game.

McKenzie enjoys a championship record of 35-26 with 27 state playoff appearances in their history including last year’s state playoff game. The Rebels lost to South Pittsburg 24-21 in the final game. But Moore County enjoys it’s own impressive playoff record. The Raiders have made the playoffs more times than McKenzie with 32 overall appearances and a 33-31 record. Moore County have earned state championship runners up two times: once in 1988 and again in 1999.

Moore County enters the second round game fresh off a 28-14 win over McEwen in Lynchburg on November 4. McKenzie also played McEwen in their regular season besting the Warriors 21-6 on October 28.

Here are five things The Times staff thinks are keys to success for tomorrow:

1 |Turn every possession into points. The McKenzie offense is okay but where they really stand out is on defense. The Rebels allowed an average of a little over eight points per game during the regular season and shut out Perry County, West Carroll. Gleason, and Hollow Rock-Bruceton. Moore County will need to play smart, mistake free football and convert every possible possession to points.

2 | Another outstanding performance from the Raider defense. McEwen is arguably one of the better teams no longer in the playoffs and they will be watching from home this week thanks to the Raider defense. Moore County’s defense – especially their front linemen – put in work last Friday night and it showed by the frustration oozing out of the Warrior players at the end of the game. They’ll need to rattle the Rebel offense the same way. One key to success will be staying in the face of the Rebel’s Mr. Football finalist QB Jackson Cassidy.

2 | Creative offensive play calling. Sure McKenzie beat McEwen 21-6 but the Warriors are pretty much a one trick pony with their star player Tommy Willis running up the middle or off tackle in the wing T pretty much every play. Moore County boasts an option quarterback in Dawson White and a star running back, Logan Hegwood. Receivers Keller Morey, Alex Copeland, and Will Baker that have become money late in the season as well. Hopefully, the Raider coaching staff can keep the Rebel defense honest with a healthy mix of run and pass plays.

4| Play four quarters. The Raiders have led the majority of their games this season with the exception of Fayetteville on September 16. Moore County trailed the Tigers 24-14 at the half before pulling within four points with 4:36 to play in the third quarter. Lack of execution in the second half cost Moore County an upset win. The Raiders need to focus on one play at a time until the final seconds on Friday.

For those who plan to make the three hour trip north west to McKenzie, the football field is located in Carroll County at 101 Bell Avenue in McKenzie between middle school and the elementary school.

For those who can’t make the trip to McKenzie, The Lynchburg Times will broadcast the Moore County Sport Network during the game on Raider Radio. Should that feed fail – and well Internet at away games is always a crap shoot — McKenzie also broadcast at https://zeno.fm/radio/whdm-am/. You can also watch the live broadcast on the NFHS Network for a subscription fee. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We focus on public service, non-partisan, rural journalism. We cover the Metro Moore County government, local tourism, Moore County schools, high school sports, Motlow State Community College, as well as whiskey industry news and regional and state stories that affect our readers.}