5 Things to know before heading to the Raiders, McKenzie game

The Moore County Raiders will travel to McKenzie on Friday to play a Class 1A Round One Playoff game. (ART CREDIT: Jeff Reed Photography)

LOCAL SPORTS | McKenzie, Tenn. — The Moore County Raiders seem to be a young team peaking at just the right moment. After losing their first four games against Cascade, Eagleville, Forrest, and Fayetteville City (as well as a COVID forfeit win against Bledsoe County), the Raiders finished strong with a 3-2 record down the stretch winning against three straight Region 5A opponents: Wayne County, Collinwood, and Huntland. That 3-3 Region 5A record and the Collinwood victory earned them a trip to Round One of the TSSAA Class A State Playoffs this Friday – something that seemed unlikely around mid-September.

As their reward, the Region 5A fourth seed will get to travel to Region 6A one seed McKenzie to play on Friday. The winner will move on to play the winner of the McEwen versus Cornersville game.

This the second consecutive year that a Kris White coached team has made a playoff appearance. The 2020 squad made it all the way to the Class 1A State Quarterfinal game losing 38-29 against Fayetteville City last year. After losing a senior class stacked with play makers, few expected them to return this year.

On exception might be their head coach, who seemed to know this particular squad would be late bloomers. Before the season started, he told his young players that they’d be a different team in the last five games than the first five games. After the 26-13 home win against Wayne County, Coach White challenged his guys to win out down the stretch.

“We can win the rest of these games and make it to the playoffs,” he said in September.

On Friday, a chartered bus filled with Raider players, coaches, and trainers will head northwest a little over three hours to take on the top ranked McKenzie Rebels. Here are several things to know before you go.

1| It’s around three hours away. McKenzie is located 150 miles from Lynchburg between Greenfield and Bruceton. The Rebels play at the football field located behind the middle school. The GPS address is 80 Woodrow Avenue, McKenzie, TN 38201. You can pre-purchase tickets through the Go Fans link provided by the TSSAA. (Click here to access that link.) Each ticket is $8 plus a service fee. Tickets will be available at the gate for $10 cash. There will not be an seating limitations for this game.

2 | Could McKenzie underestimate the Raiders? The Raider will be the clear underdogs against the undefeated Rebels who have a spotless 10-0 regular season record. Could the Rebels look past the Raiders? Possibly. Film on Moore County is likely deceiving. Many opposing coaches have simply looked at the stats and decided to focus on the Raiders top rusher, Dawson White. It felt obvious that the top rated Cornersville Bulldogs weren’t expecting other offensive playmakers like Keller Morey, Connor Partin, Alex Copeland, Will Baker, and Will Harder to step up on October 22. Maybe that trend will continue.

3 | Defensive leaders could be the difference makers. The Raider defense has played consistent all year but this could be the final game for seniors like Hayden Carter, Joseph Trice, Tyler Bowles, Tanner Parks, and Isaiah Ralston. Taking a defensive stand against a highly vaunted, offensive team like the Rebels would be quite the legacy. Just saying.

4| Raider Nation will show up in force. Someone needs to decide who will turn the lights off as we all leave town Friday afternoon. One thing Raider Nation does well is supporting our guys and gals, especially in playoff game. The Times has done a little reporting and come up with three names of good McKenzie restaurants: McKenzie Station Bar & Grille, Praters Taters, and Maria’s Mexican Bar & Grill were the top three recommendations.

5 | Dress warm. The daytime high will be in the fifties on Friday in McKenzie with the temps nosediving towards freezing after the sun goes down around 6 p.m. Game time temps should be around 35 with mostly clear skies and winds around five miles per hours. Layers people … layers.

If you can’t travel to McKenzie to support the Raiders, there are several ways to watch and/or listen. Live audio of the game should be available through the Moore County Sports Network app. You can also watch live on the NFHS Network. The McKenzie Student Broadcasting Team will produce the stream and you can find it at this link. The Lynchburg Times will also live blog the action on our Facebook page. Kick off will be at 7 p.m. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}