Matt Turner looked at the scoreboard and shook his head. He couldn’t believe what he saw.
“People will look at 41-7 and think this is the same ole Warren County,” Turner said following Friday’s loss to Blackman. “I hope everybody realizes what we’re building here. We should’ve had it 7-7 at halftime. Blackman knows it was in a game tonight.”
Turner is not wrong. The new Pioneer coach wasn’t looking for a moral victory or a pat on the back. He was just being realistic.
For the last four years, Blackman probably didn’t spend more than a second worrying about Warren County. Who could blame them? Even at 1-3, the Blaze knew history was on their side. Since becoming region opponents, Blackman had outscored Warren County 188-38.
The Pioneers announced early they weren’t going to be pushovers.
Turner put all his cards on the table in the first quarter, going for it on fourth-and-2 on his own 43. Turner bet he could line up and run it right at the Blaze.
He was right.
CJ Taylor plowed forward for three yards, moving the chains. More importantly, how Warren County moved the Blaze off the ball proved it belonged.
Of course two plays later, the Pioneers snapped a ball over Taylor’s head, one Blackman recovered and ran for a score. It was points the Blaze didn’t have to earn, a problem which continues to plague Warren County.
“Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. We still have so much to clean up,” said Turner.
Warren County fell behind 14-0 early, only to mount a nine-play, 72-yard scoring drive in the second quarter. The whole series was an athletic showcase of the new-look Pioneers.
Lacedrick ‘Red’ Cox busted out for a 37-yard run. Malachi Rippy had a pair of chain-moving plays, hauling in a 12-yard catch on third-and-long and adding an eight-yard run to make it goal-to-go.
From there, Taylor – an athlete the whole region is going to know by the end of this season – did the rest. Taylor flew over a Blackman defender on a 1-yard TD.
There were reminders all night Warren County didn’t face a tremendous athletic mismatch, including one that didn’t get the Pioneers a single yard.
Kason Holder made one of the best catches I’ve seen in 10 years. The Pioneer junior flew up the field, then adjusted to the sideline on a back-shoulder throw.
Holder was able to go up and make a one-handed grab, but his foot hit out of bounds on his way down. I couldn’t believe he caught it – and he was a tip-toe away from a huge gain.
The glimpses are enough to make Pioneer fans optimistic about the next three games, starting with Friday’s homecoming against Siegel.
No matter the outcomes against Siegel, Cookeville and Coffee County, one thing is for sure – opponents are going to have to start preparing for the Pioneers.