Maybe it’s a part of getting older and maturing, or just a fondness for the program, but I’ve made a decision this fall.
I’m retiring the “Good, Bad and Ugly,” column when it comes to Pioneer football.
I don’t think I will trend toward the “Everlasting Joy” editor James Clark likes to bring, but I do think I’m going to adopt Tom Moore’s approach of relentless positivity when talking about the Pioneers.
They’re going to need it this fall.
With the season just nine days away, Warren County is almost ready for the fourth installment of its very own Mission Impossible. There will be winnable games early – DeKalb County and White County most notably – before Murfreesboro comes calling.
Those matchups with Blackman, Oakland, Riverdale and Siegel make up four of the final five games for the Pioneers. It’s the hand the program was dealt four years ago and Moore has tried to make the most of it.
Warren County, led by a once-in-a-decade talent Isaiah Grayson, improved its win total each of the last three years. But at some point, getting dealt bad cards over and over will break anybody.
I’m worried it’s starting to break local football.
Knowing full well I may become the local “Chicken Little,” I’m worried this schedule is going to put the Pioneer football program under. Much like city league participation, football is seeing its own decline.
At next week’s pep rally, which I encourage everybody to attend, there may be only 60 players combined on the WCMS and WCHS teams. There will be opponents who bring more kids on their junior varsity squads to Nunley Stadium this fall.
As one fan told me last Friday, it’s a three-fold problem for the Pioneers. First, the program’s 27-year run of losing seasons discourages participation. If that’s not bad enough, the prospect of having to compete against state powerhouses to reverse the trend is bleak. Throw in the national coverage of concussions and you have a blend that could leave an empty football stadium in the future.
I don’t know what more Warren County could do. Moore, and his predecessor Scott Smith, both have state championships on their résumés. The school board approved the construction of a $1.1 million athletic facility - heavily geared toward football - that been operational the last few years.
And yet, nothing seems to be changing in a positive manner.
So if the only thing I can contribute is being positive in columns, then so be it. There may be only 30 kids who put on the pads this fall to go represent the Pioneers against the big, bad Murfreesboro schools.
I respect every single one of them.