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Simmons Says - Landmark victory for Pioneers

Even amid the celebration after Friday’s thrilling 36-35 victory for the Pioneers over Rockvale, I’m not sure people truly realized the magnitude of what happened.

Sure, people knew Warren County had beaten a Rutherford County school. They also probably found out at some point it was the first region win in four years. More so, how the team did it – on a gutsy call to go for two with 1:34 left – will resonate for a while.

But did people really understand what had happened? I’m still not sure I do.

Since moving into this region, the Pioneers have played 18 games against Rutherford County teams. They lost all 18 by a combined score they name giant planes after – 747 points. 

How long did Warren County have to wait for a win over a Rutherford County school? Scrolling back through the schedules, the last I could find was a victory over Oakland in 1997 – well before any member of the current team was born. 

It truly was a long wait, but it only seemed to make it  sweeter for the Pioneers Friday. Here’s some of my favorite takeaways from the game.

Good – Don’t overlook how good the Pioneer offensive line played against Rockvale. Much maligned after the team’s inconsistent showing in the first two weeks on the ground (76 carries, 298 yards), Warren County’s big boys were locked in against the Rockets. 

So much so, they were leading the charge in telling Turner to go for two at the end.

“We knew we could get it done,” said senior lineman Dillon Haley. 

Kudos to the men in the trenches. They did their job.

Better – Kason Holder’s catch in the fourth quarter may be forgotten in a few years, but it won’t be by me. This would be a whole different column if Holder didn’t make a sensational play.

Facing a third-and-14 in the final two minutes, Holder worked back to the ball, contorting his body while leaping over a defender and made a spectacular grab. The ensuing touchdown and two-point conversion changed the score, but Holder’s catch changed the game.

Best – There were so many unsung heroes doing their jobs Friday. CJ Taylor was wreaking havoc as usual, but he had plenty of help against the Rockets.

Xander Lee pounded the defense when he got the ball. Lacedrick Cox, a first-time varsity football player as a senior, continues to find ways to the endzone. Dante Elam made the game-sealing interception. Noah Martin was a tackling machine. The list goes on.

One play that may have exemplified the team’s desire the best was Eli Buchanan, playing on his 18th birthday, busting full speed on a kickoff return after the Rockets took a 35-28 lead. The senior was completely spent after a 40-yard gain, lying on the ground cramping up.

The Pioneers pushed themselves to exhaustion, then willed themselves to a historic win.