“The ball is the food,” T.L. Hanna senior running back Jaydon McKinney said after the Yellow Jackets’ Class AAAAA third-round playoff game against perennial power Dorman.
“We all share the ball,” McKinney said, referring to himself and fellow running backs Zacch Pickens, Isaiah Norris and Jay Lagroon. “We are all unselfish and one big happy family. We all share the ball because the ball is the food.”
Understandably, McKinney was excited. After all, he had just scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:08 remaining as the Yellow Jackets advanced to the Upper State championship game with a 35-28 win over the Cavaliers.
“This is a family thing,” he added. “T.L. Hanna is my family. This is what we do.”
McKinney carried the ball only four times for 22 yards, but he made them count, as he scored two first-half touchdowns, on runs of 1 and 4 yards.
While his touchdowns helped carry the load for the Yellow Jackets, it was the leadership and bonds that he, Pickens, Norris and Lagroon — all of whom are seniors — that came up big when Hanna needed it against the Cavaliers.
“Their character is good,” Hanna coach Jeff Herron said. “We had them over to the house for a cookout or pizza night during the off week, and it was great watching them interact with each other and how they care about each other, how they enjoy each other, and that goes a long way this time of year.”