McKinney backs name

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By Robert Howey



BUFORD – Buford High School two-way football standout Mikeem McKinney figured he had to live up to the family name.

He has, and in admirable fashion.

McKinney, in his senior season with the Jackets football team, has earned all-region honors in football twice and soccer once.

Last spring, he also earned the Jackets MVP with the BHS soccer team.

About that family name. From 1978 to 1981, McKinney’s uncle, James McKinney, won four individual state wrestling crowns at BHS under the leadership of former BHS coach Joe Funderburk. James McKinney is only one of five state wrestlers who holds the mat honor.

“That’s pretty impressive,” said Mikeem McKinney, a 5-9, 140-pound performer. “I figured I had to keep the family name going.”

The Buford High football coaches say he has.

“He has started four years for us in football and twice during that time, he has made all-region,” BHS head coach Mike Wells said. “He’s a play-maker and a doggone good all-around player.”

“There’s not much he can’t do,” BHS secondary coach Eric Funderburk said.

To date, he’s picked off four passes, with one pick six in the Jackets’ secondary at cornerback. On offense at wingback, he has 9 catches for 158 yards, with a rushing TD.

A week ago in the Jackets’ 21-14 home loss to Lewisville, his soccer skills kicked in as he booted two extra points when regular kicker Donovan Lang missed the game.

“I just do my job and do my best,” McKinney said.

Given the choice, McKinney said he prefers defense over offense.

“Defense is more intense and you get to hit people,” McKinney said. “When the ball goes in the air, I feel I have a good chance to pick it off.”

Funderburk has the same notion.

“He can match up with anybody and it’s likely they won’t throw his way,” Funderburk said. “He’s a good athlete with speed and good field vision.”

On offense from his wingback position in the Jackets’ Wing-T, McKinney is also a threat.

“We try to get the ball to him as much as possible,” Funderburk said. “If he has a little space, he can go the distance.”

Funderburk said McKinney’s work over the summer has made an impact.

“In the past, Mikeem wasn’t always a weight-room regular, but this summer he made all of his lifts and it has made a difference with him,” Funderburk said, “He was committed to the weight room and that has made him strong and boosted him as a player.”

Tonight, the Jackets will be heading to Great Falls to close their non-region schedule.

“We have to come out and play hard as a team,” McKinney said. “We have to do our job and stay focused.”

 McKinney knows all too well about his family name and its place in BHS athletic history, but he also wants to finish strong.

“Stepping across the field, I know this is my senior year,” he said. “This is my last time and I want it to be the best.”