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Pioneers top defending state champs in first scrimmage

The WCHS Pioneers started preseason with a great win against South Pittsburg in their season-opening scrimmage on Friday evening.

Though not an official game, WCHS head coach Matt Turner said, “A win is a win.” WC took to its home field at Nunley Stadium and gave Pioneer fans a show.

For a scrimmage, there were many flags called on both teams for everything from false starts to holding. In the fourth quarter when the JV teams went in, South Pittsburg was flagged with a false start 3 times on the same down. The first quarter saw the Pirates in control of the ball the entire time putting the Pioneer defense to work.

The Pioneers continued to play defense in the second quarter holding South Pittsburg as long as they could with Colin Panter and Braylon Grayson both setting the Pirates back giving South Pittsburg a second and third down near the 10-yard line.

WC was giving South Pittsburg a hard time with Wesley Sherrell blocking a pass in the end zone that fell incomplete. Unfortunately, they held them back as much as they could before South Pittsburg scored the first touchdown in the second quarter.

With just over 8 minutes to halftime, the Pioneers finally gained possession where WC received a penalty of 5 yards for the second down. However, Dawson Haley came back with a first down for the Pioneers. Haley continued giving WC another first down.

Gaining traction, the Pioneers were now on the third down with 3 yards to go. Grayson exceeded the three yards after retrieving the ball to score a Pioneer touchdown and tie the ballgame. Despite WC keeping up with the Pirates, South Pittsburg was giving the Pioneers a hard time with outside passes.

Going into the third quarter, the Pioneers and Pirates were tied 7-7, and both held each other defensively as they both chose to punt. WC held the Pirates as they made 3 incomplete passes before punting.

QB Nate Elrod ran more than 50 yards for a Pioneer first down at the 11-yard line. WC couldn’t get the touchdown, but Beckham Scott nailed the field goal putting Warren ahead 10-7, which would help later.

South Pittsburg followed Elrod’s highlight run with their No. 16 racing to the end zone. South Pittsburg took the lead once again with another touchdown, but the extra point was no good making them lead 13-10.

WC gained possession once again but got set back a few from a penalty. On the third down past the 50-yard line, Elrod found Grayson near the 20-yard line. Elrod launched the ball past the hands of a Pirate defender and landed into Grayson’s arms. Grayson scored a touchdown which secured the lead for the Pioneers once again with only 30 seconds left in the quarter.

Coach Turner said, “I think it was a good 40-yard pass.”

Elrod topped the quarter off by intercepting a South Pittsburg throw, similar to his throw to Grayson. Here, game was called to allow the JV teams to play the fourth quarter. Warren County beat South Pittsburg 17-13 after some impressive throws and runs.

Coach Turner said five of his starters were out for this scrimmage. “We’re only as good as our No. 2s.”

Dayton Jernigan, Levi Melton, Andrew Miller, Saul Smith and Alex van Vuuren were all missing for different reasons. Turner continued, “Hopefully, come Tuesday, we’ll have all those guys back.”

The Pioneers play Tullahoma on Tuesday at Nunley Stadium at 6 p.m., and they will play in the pre-season Sequatchie County Jamboree this Friday evening where they will face Rhea County at 7 p.m. and Grundy County at 7:30 p.m.