Friday's trip to Cookeville will give the Pioneers a chance to snap a long losing streak.
Warren County finishes its three-game road trip with a date with the Cavaliers, who have owned the Pioneers over the years. The Pioneers haven’t beaten Cookeville since 2008.
Nine losses in a row isn't something the Pioneers are focused on though. A new year always brings about a new opportunity.
“We can't control the past,” said Pioneer coach Tom Moore. “It's just the next game. Cookeville has a good team and we want to go and compete.”
Warren County (1-1) comes in riding high off a 20-13 victory over White County last week. The Pioneers got a big night from senior Eric Haywood, who topped 100 yards on the ground for the second straight week and sealed the victory with a late interception.
Haywood and CJ Taylor have formed a lethal 1-2 punch in the Pioneer backfield. Each back has over 200 yards on the ground this season, though Taylor is a game-time decision Friday due to an ankle injury he suffered last week.
Taylor’s potential absence isn’t the only thing that could slow the Pioneers down in their first region game though. Cookeville has shown a knack for stonewalling Warren County.
The Pioneers went into last year’s matchup at 2-0 and were coming off a 55-point outing against the Warriors – the team’s highest scoring mark in five years. Cookeville ground the Pioneers to a halt, shutting out Warren County 42-0 while allowing just 164 yards – 14 coming on the ground.
“I looked at the tape and we couldn't run the ball at all. It's two different teams though. We've been running the ball this year," said Moore. “I thought our defense played hard last year, but gave up a few big plays. They are well coachcoached."
The Cavaliers are without several members of last year’s 10-3 team that made the 6A quarterfinal, but the cupboard isn’t bare for coach Jimmy Maynord. Running back Jaedan McAllister leads the team with 148 yards rushing and scored three times in last week’s win, while his backfield partner Jacob Stamps has 75 yards and a touchdown this season.
Quarterback Blaine Espinosa is a dual threat, throwing for 206 yards and rushing for 47 more to help Cookeville start 1-1.
The Pioneers counter with Clay Thompson, who was much improved in his second start. A week after finishing 1-for-4 for zero yards, Thompson connected on 4-for-7 for 53 yards and a score. His play-action passing, along with 41 rushing yards, helped keep White County defenders off balance.
Friday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The game will serve as homecoming for the Cavaliers.