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District duel
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The regular season may have started two weeks ago, but any thoughts of a Pioneer playoff push begin Friday night in Cookeville.

 

The Warren County High School football team will start District 6-AAA play against the Cavaliers, who have opened the season with back-to-back wins this year. Kick off at Eddie Watson Stadium is set for 7 p.m.

 

Winning district games is the quickest way to punch a playoff ticket, but it won’t be an easy opener in District 6-AAA play for the Pioneers. Cookeville was picked before the season as a co-favorite in the district and showed why in its first two games.

 

The Cavaliers opened their season by smashing Monterey 44-0 at home. Cookeville followed by traveling to Cleveland and building a 30-3 lead in the first half before holding on to win 30-23.

 

Warren County (1-1) is coming off a 38-28 loss to Shelbyville in its home opener. The Pioneers will need to be strong against the run if the team wants to beat Cookeville for the first time since 2008.

Cookeville only threw two passes in Cleveland last week. The first was a 43-yard scoring strike off play action while the second fell incomplete. The rest of the Cavalier offense was shouldered by burly running back Vic Johnson.

The 6-foot, 200-pound junior rushed for 267 yards and three touchdowns – all coming in the second quarter – against Cleveland. Johnson was just as dominate for the Cavaliers in the opener, when he torched Monterey for 103 yards on only five carries. Johnson scored on his first three carries on opening night, all of which covered 20 or more yards.

In two games this season, Warren County is allowing opponents to rush for an average of 183 yards a game. Shelbyville running back Tyler Eddings pounded his way to 107 yards and two touchdowns last week while DeKalb County quarterback Steven Jennings led the Tigers with 96 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener.

The best defense for the Pioneers Friday night may be a good offense against the Cavaliers.

Cookeville showed signs of being vulnerable against the pass last week against Cleveland. Raider quarterback Austin Massey threw for 363 yards against the Cavaliers and accounted for two touchdowns.

Warren County’s passing game picked up last week as junior Christian Wilkinson threw for 136 yards while connecting on 15-of-20 passes. For the season, Wilkinson is completing 74.3 percent of his passes and has avoided any turnovers.

The Pioneers can attack the Cavaliers with senior wide receivers Adrian Lusk, who caught 11 passes for 118 yards last week, and Malik Ladet. Ladet caught a touchdown pass against DeKalb County and added a 30-yard scoring run last week on a reverse.

Senior tailback Bryson Lewis will also be a weapon Warren County will try to use against Cookeville. Lewis is currently averaging 104 yards per game on the ground and has scored four times.

Warren County traveling to Cookeville is just one of three District 6-AAA matchups Friday night. In other action, the defending champion Rhea County Eagles will travel to White County while Cumberland County makes the crosstown trip to play Stone Memorial in Crossville.