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Coach Turner looks to instill foundation of camaraderie
Football - Eli Cantrell.jpg
WCHS senior Eli Cantrell is expected to play a major role for the Pioneers this season, both running the ball and stopping the run at inside linebacker.
Football - Will Davis.jpg
WCHS junior Will Davis, shown during Dawn of the Dead last month at Nunley Stadium, is an enormous player who could help ease the loss of six of the Pioneers top seven offensive linemen.

Let the countdown begin!

The TSSAA dead period is over. When WCHS football practice resumes this Monday, it will be 40 days till kickoff.

No one knows this better than head football coach Matt Turner, who wants to continue the magic of last year’s 8-3 season.

Camaraderie is crucial to any winning team and Turner wants to establish that right from the start. Stonewall Solutions will be conducting a one-day football camp that begins at 8:30 a.m. this Friday aimed at team building, mental toughness and leadership development.

Stonewall Solutions comes highly recommended, Turner noted, and is endorsed by top athletes, corporate CEOs, and sports psychologists. It’s all part of continuing the culture of winning, which has long played hide and seek from WCHS football, but was recaptured last year.

“The team camp on Friday is something in which all members of Squad 53 are expected to participate,” said Turner. “We are bringing in Stonewall Solutions to put our team through a team-building program. I am very excited about this opportunity.”

Stonewall Solutions will emphasize the fundamentals of winning. This includes nourishing characteristics such as confidence, courage, and commitment.

Prior to the day camp on Friday, WCHS football players will emerge from their two-week layoff with mandatory practices Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. 

Turner says coaches will evaluate the team on where it stands from conditioning and strength standpoints.

Before embarking on the two-week break, Turner held a Dawn of the Dead practice at 5:53 a.m. at Nunley Stadium. Players were put through a series of grueling conditioning tests.

At the end of that practice, Turner implored players not to take two weeks off. He encouraged them to continue running and weight lifting in order to maintain their level of fitness.

Warren County will compete in its final 7-on-7 passing tournament this Thursday at Riverdale High School. The Pioneers have participated in three 7-on-7 passing scrimmages thus far to get QBs on the same page with receivers. The passing scrimmages are also crucial for the secondary to help iron out kinks in coverages.

Warren County has traditionally relied on a run-heavy offense. Success in the run game largely depends on the strength of the offensive line. 

The Pioneers lost six of their top seven offensive linemen to graduation from last year’s team. Only junior Dayton Jernigan, a starter all season, returns from that unit.

Turner believes Warren County has the talent available to be strong in the trenches, but those players will have to gain experience quickly.

Junior QB Nate Elrod appears poised to assume duties as the Pioneers starting signal caller. He’s also a valuable member of the secondary.

Eli Cantrell, a senior, is expected to line up behind Elrod and be one of the primary ball carriers. Cantrell is expected to be a two-way player and see significant action at inside linebacker.

The season starts Aug. 20 with a rivalry game against DeKalb County. That game will be played at Nunley Stadium.

Warren County captured a 30-24 win last year in Smithville. In that game, both teams scored 4 TDs, but the Pioneers made three extra points and also kicked a FG. DeKalb County missed its only extra point kick by a half mile and unsuccessfully went for 2-point conversions after its other 3 TDs.