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Fall sports ready to roll
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If practice makes perfect, then the Warren County High School fall sports teams will start working toward perfection tomorrow.
After a summer of conditioning, the fall sports squads will finally be able to start official practices as the dead period ends today.
The Warren County High School football team, along with the Lady Pioneer soccer and volleyball teams, are eager to get to work as games loom right around the corner.
For the Pioneer football team, the start of the 2012 campaign officially puts last year’s 0-10 season in the rear-view mirror, something coach Tommy Johnson has been wanting to do ever since Warren County walked off the field in Soddy Daisy last October.
“What happened last year was last year, it’s over. Our No. 1 concern is moving forward,” said Johnson. “I believe the guys realize the things that we didn’t do last year that resulted in the 0-10 season and know the things we need to do to avoid that this year.
“I believe we’ve done the work in the offseason to give ourselves a fighting chance this season. I couldn’t be prouder of the group for the work they’ve put in since the end of last season.”
Coach Johnson will waste no time in getting as many workouts as possible in before the start of the season Friday, Aug. 17 in DeKalb County.
The Pioneers will begin two-a-days tomorrow, with the first workout coming early in the morning and the second practice coming later in the day.
With over 60 players expected to come out for football this season, filling the roster shouldn’t be an issue for coach Johnson. What will be a focus though is teaching those players, many who will be seeing their first varsity experience when the Pioneers take on the Tigers in 19 days, the fundamentals of football and keeping the team in condition.
“We’re really focused on trying to be in the best condition possible when games begin,” said Johnson. “We’re going to have a lot of guys who play both ways and we’re going to need some of our young guys to step up and give us snaps as well.”
While the football team tries to bounce back from a forgettable 2011, each Lady Pioneer program starting practice tomorrow will be dealing with something completely different than coach Johnson and the Pioneers.
The weight of expectations is being placed on the Warren County High School girls soccer team, along with the Lady Pioneer volleyball team.
Coach Todd Willmore will be in search of his second consecutive District 6-AAA title when the Lady Pioneer soccer team takes the field this fall.
Warren County enters the season as the favorites to win the district title as the Lady Pioneers return District 6-AAA player of the year Morgan McCormick, District 6-AAA midfielder of the year Ansley Mullican and All-District 6-AAA honorees Kimberly Warden, Lauren Roller, Lyndi Dodd, Joanna Paz and Ayla Anish.
The Lady Pioneers will hit the field running tomorrow as coach Willmore has two practices scheduled tomorrow and Tuesday. Warren County will scrimmage McMinn County at home Friday.
Coach Willmore is chomping at the bit to get practice started as his team embraces the role of district favorite.
“My expectations are high for this group, and I think the girls have high expectations for themselves,” said Willmore. “We have to stay hungry and keep the mindset of competing every time we take the field.
“The teams we have on our schedule, especially the ones we see every year, won’t lay down because they think we’re a good team. It will only give our opponents added motivation.”
The Lady Pioneer volleyball team is being pushed toward the top of the District 6-AAA rankings before the season starts, but Cookeville still seems to be the team to beat. In three years of play in District 6-AAA, the Lady Cavaliers have never lost a match.
With six seniors returning, including All-District 6-AAA performers Caroline McKinley, Megan Dishman, Blair Fisher and Kaitlin Lawrence, the Lady Pioneers are being touted as the team that could end Cookeville’s streak.
Coach Franklin Fisher isn’t ready to anoint his team as the favorite. The coach, who enters his 19th season as the leader of the Lady Pioneers, wants to spend practice time building team chemistry and finding the right rotation.
“On paper, we have a pretty good situation with six seniors and several returning starters,” said Fisher. “We’re a team that relies heavily on team chemistry and that’s what we want to focus on when practice begins.
“We still have plenty of things to work on before we start the season and then we’ll see where we stand among the teams in our district.”
The Lady Pioneer volleyball team will take the court all this week at Charlie Dalton Gym. Warren County gets its first taste of live action this Saturday when the team takes part in the Chattanooga Choo Choo playday.