Still months away from the start of the season, football is already the talk of the town.
With new coaches Matt Turner and Ben Matheney going to every corner of the county looking for players, an excitement is building around the Pioneer football programs. Charlie Boyd added to the football festivities over the weekend, inviting West Virginia alumni Boogie Allen into town to host a football camp.
“We had a great meeting with coach Boyd about all the things he’s doing for the youth in Warren County,” said Turner. “We need to saturate the kids, parents and supporters of Pioneer athletics with men and women who have reached the pinnacle of their trait. The camp was very exciting and we’re already working to plan another one.”
Boyd’s camp, which ran for over three hours Saturday, brought out over 40 kids to hone their skills under the watchful eye of a NFL player. Turner hopes that number reaches 200 kids by the next event – an ambitious, though not unreachable goal.
Last year, from the youth league up to the high school program, fewer than 150 kids played football in Warren County. Turner has already seen over 40 kids show up to after-school workouts, with 20 more currently participating in other sports.
At the middle school, Matheney recently had over 70 show up for a week of workouts – nearly 30 of which will be freshmen next season.
“We just had our first week of workouts and the turnout has been tremendous,” said Matheney, who was hired to be the new WCMS coach in December. “We’re encouraging kids to come out and see what is going on. We’ll have a final date to join the team, but that is not any time soon. We’re gathering information to pass along to upcoming sixth-graders soon.”
Matheney is holding workouts Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3:15-4:30 p.m. He’ll hold spring practice in May, with a scrimmage against Franklin County already scheduled. Spring workouts will be focused on building the basic skills for the young Pioneers.
“Our spring camp will revolve heavily around teaching fundamentals. We will really focus on blocking and tackling,” said Matheney. “We will be evaluating the players to figure out where each of them best fits.”
Both Matheney and Turner have been hitting the recruiting trail locally, visiting county schools in hopes of bringing out more players this fall.
“I will be going to Eastside, Irving College and WCMS soon,” said Turner. “I’ve been to Dibrell, Centertown and Morrison. We’re getting positive responses everywhere we go. The overall feel in the community about Pioneer football is excitement. There are people anxious to support and get involved. They want to fill Nunley Stadium on Fridays this fall.”
Turner is also holding after-school workouts on Monday-Thursday from 3-5 p.m. He welcomes all prospective football players to join.
“This is the time for kids to come out and see if they like it, see if they like the coaches and find out if football is for them,” said Turner.
Spring practice at the high school will begin April 25. The Pioneers will practice for two weeks, culminating in a player spotlight scrimmage at Nunley Stadium Friday, May 10. A freshman camp will be held May 15-17.