ROAN MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – In his fourth season with the Highlanders, Gage McKinney does a little bit of everything on both sides of the ball.
“Gage – I would describe him as a hybrid player,” head coach Zac Benfield said.
“Wherever Zac puts me, I kinda do it,” McKinney shrugged. “Whatever he needs me to do, I do.”
On Friday night, McKinney did everything and then some for Cloudland. He gashed visiting Unaka for 317 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. McKinney added a fifth score of the night on a 99-yard kickoff return in the 46-28 win.
But, as his stat line grew, the senior swiss army knife was focused on just one thing.
I was more worried about throwing up on the sidelines after scoring a few times,” he smiled. “I was really killed.”
No one was too surprised by McKinney’s career outing – certainly not his head coach. Benfield has known about the senior’s abilities for almost four years.
“You know, he’s kind of waited his turn and now he’s finally the senior and he’s showing out – he’s a really good athlete, for sure,” he said.
“It’s great – I finally get to show everyone what I’ve been waiting for for the past three years,” McKinney said. “I was behind a bunch of good athletes. I’ve just been waiting my turn. This is the year.”
McKinney brings more than just raw power and athleticism to the table. Benfield explained that his most important trait is his football IQ.
“Gage is just as good a coach on the field as he is a player,” he said. “That’s a team leader – you know what I mean. That’s pretty cool.”
“I’ve been a four-year starter this year,” McKinney said. “So, I have a lot to bring and teach them. Hopefully they can learn something from me, as I can learn something from them.”