By: Jim Steele
While many area high school already have finished their spring football workouts, McKenzie cranked up its spring practice on Monday.
Thus far, this off-season, McKenzie has made a big deal about getting bigger and stronger in the weightroom and McKenzie football coach Wade Comer didn't want to break the flow.
"We felt ike we didn't need the break in the off-season. Things were going good and we didn't want to disrupt what we were doing," said the coach. "It has turned out good for us from a strength standpoint and that's why we're going in May. We felt like we had to get stronger and I think we've done that."
Plus, often, when teams go later, the retention is better in when teams head back into the pre-season camps. But Comer said there are pros and cons to everything.
"Yeah, the retention is going to be better in the fall, but a big downside is that if you get any kind of injury, you have a shorter time to recover," said the coach.
McKenzie has a healthy mix of returnees and newcomers to next season's team. A big key for the Rebels this spring is finding someone to fill the big shoes left by McKenzie's all-time leading rusher, Eric Robinson.
"I like what we have coming back. We have three or four (running backs) who look good and we may do it by committee," said the coach. "Each one is a little different than the other, so we may divvy up the carries. Instead of one getting 30 carries, we may have two get 15 carries a piece. We have good potential there as far as strength and speed goes."
Comer has had a bit of experience with a multiple-back combination when Jake Johnson and Tyler Moore shared running duties for that state runner-up team of 2007.
The coach he hopes to make the linebackers and the defense in general more physical and more disciplined. Offensively, McKenzie has a leg up with Zach Jarrett returning at quartrback. Comer says his return, plus players returning from last year's injury will be a big plus.
McKenzie will hold its drills at the high school practice field and will hold scrimmages on Bethel's field. The Rebels will scrimmage Jackson-South Side, coached by former Rebel captain Tyler Reeder, on May 12 and Crockett County on May 17. Both scrimmages will be played at Bethel University.