When Pioneer football coach Tommy Johnson arrived in McMinnville three years ago, he envisioned a day where every kid who played football in Warren County would get a chance to take the field at Nunley Stadium. The idea grew into the Boys 2 Men football event, which happened for the third year at Nunley Stadium Saturday.
Teams from the Warren County youth leagues started play at noon, while the WCMS and WCHS football teams played intersquad scrimmages to end the night. Between the two scrimmages to end the festivities, a pep rally was held featuring performances by the WCMS and WCHS cheerleaders and the WCHS Pioneerettes.
The day of football helped raise over $8,000 for the Warren County programs, making it one of the most successful Boys 2 Men days since the event started in 2011. Coach Johnson was thrilled with the turnout and wants to make it even bigger next year.
“I thought we had a great showing Saturday and I want to thank everybody who came out to make it a success,” said Johnson. “I think this can be a huge community event and we can make it bigger and better.”
While the WCHS and WCMS football teams have played plenty of snaps at Nunley Stadium, it was the first time some pee-wee players had stepped foot on the field. Devin Jordan was one of many kids who scored their first touchdown at Nunley Stadium during pee-wee play as the big running back for the Blue Raiders popped open for two long runs while scrimmaging a team from DeKalb County.
Coach Johnson watched with his team from the sidelines as he got great enjoyment in seeing what talent is rising in Warren County. He got an even better view of the future when the WCMS team took the field for a one-hour scrimmage.
In their first year under coach Donnie Harris, the Pioneers got a chance to implement what they learned in the first week of practice. Coach Harris thought the scrimmage went well and gave the team insight on what it needs to work on going forward.
“We learned what we need to work on for sure,” said Harris. “Offensively, we had good effort and a good understanding of what to do. We have to work on getting it done now. The defense looked good. I liked the aggressiveness, but we need to clean up some technique.”
After a pep rally, which featured senior kicker Johnny Smith singing the national anthem and sophomore Jordan Bonner leading a group prayer, the WCHS team took the field. Featuring a roster nearing 70 players, coach Johnson divided his team equally in hopes of putting on a showcase for the Pioneer faithful.
Fans saw the Blue Team win the scrimmage 14-6, powered by a long touchdown run from senior Cameron Lusk and game-clinching touchdown pass by Hunter Gudat to Robert Haywood.
Lusk, projected as the team’s starting running back, delighted the big crowd at Nunley Stadium when he sprung free on his team’s first offensive possession for a touchdown run exceeding 50 yards. Sophomore kicker Evan Reynolds added the extra point.
The White team got back into the game by relying on its defense, led by linemen Ethan Turner and Chayse Frye, to make plays. Turner was a terror in the trenches as coaches praised his play all game. Turner’s fumble recovery, which came after a sack by Frye that put the Blue team in a long down-and-distance situation, set up their team’s lone touchdown.
Senior quarterback Hunter Mullican marched his team to the endzone by finding D’Andre League. After several short passes, League was able to break free against the Blue team defense for a 40-yard touchdown catch.
A missed PAT left the White team a point behind, but Gudat made sure the Blue team stayed ahead for good. Late in the scrimmage, Gudat rolled left and found Haywood up the sideline for a lengthy pass play. Haywood turned it into points when he made a move and outran the White team to the endzone for the game’s final touchdown.
Coach Johnson left the scrimmage knowing his team did some things well, but also finding areas where the team has to improve.
“We have to continue to get better every time we take the field,” coach Johnson told the team after the scrimmage. “I saw some things we succeeded at and things we’re going to have to work on some more. We’re getting there though.”
The Pioneers will scrimmage again Friday, Aug. 16 in Marshall County against the Lincoln County Falcons. The WCHS JV team will go to Coffee County on the same day.