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Grayson leads WCHS to win
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Braylon Grayson was a wrecking ball against Coffee County Monday, scoring three touchdowns to lead the junior varsity Pioneers to a 34-14 road victory. - photo by James Clark
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Ben Anaya had several explosive plays in Monday's big victory. - photo by James Clark

With all the construction taking place in Manchester, the Warren County High School junior varsity football team decided it wanted to do a little bulldozer work of its own.

The Pioneers plowed Coffee County on Monday night, going on the road to claim an emphatic 34-14 victory behind three Braylon Grayson touchdowns.

“This is a special group of young men,” said WCHS freshman coach David Upton. “They don’t care who gets the glory. They just want to win.”

The Pioneers (2-1) shined in all three phases.

Explosive running plays by Grayson and Ben Anaya catapulted the offense. The Pioneer defense recorded a safety and returned a deflected pass for a TD. The special teams forced a fumble on a kickoff return, then recovered a Coffee County onside kick late in the game to snuff any hope of a Red Raider comeback.

Jayden McCoy had two fumble recoveries as one of Warren County’s defensive stars. Ethan Bernhardt had two tackles for a loss, including one at the 1-yard line that led to a safety on the next play.

Eli Cantrell was tough on both sides of the ball, powering in for a rushing TD and flying around on defense.

The 34-point outburst could have been even more impressive. The Pioneers had two TDs taken off the board due to penalty – a completion from QB Harley Hernandez to Anaya in the back of the endzone, and an 85-yard wrecking ball run from Grayson.

For all the highlights, the Pioneers started sluggish. 

Coffee County promptly marched down to the Pioneer 10-yard line with little resistance on its opening possession. That’s when Upton called timeout to provide a few words of encouragement.

“I had to build a fire under them,” said Upton. “After that, they took off.”

WCHS kept the Red Raiders out of the endzone and the drive resulted in a missed FG. 

On the ensuing drive, Grayson and Anaya both ripped off runs of more than 20 yards as the Pioneers marched down field to make it 8-0 on a Grayson TD and 2-point conversion.

Hunter Pezzimenti recovered a fumble and rambled to the Coffee County 25-yard line to give the Pioneers another prime scoring opportunity, but the drive ended in a turnover on downs.

The Pioneers scored on defense when a pass deflected off Coffee County’s intended receiver and bounced right into the hands of Grayson. He ran 10 yards to the endzone to put WCHS ahead 14-0 at the half.

Coffee County finally showed a spark late in the third. The Red Raiders connected on a 62-yard bomb when the receiver slipped behind the Pioneer defense. That made it 14-7 with 1:27 left in the third.

The Pioneers answered by driving down field, but Coffee County intercepted a pass at the 6-yard line. Warren County’s D pushed the Red Raiders backward from there to get a safety, 16-7.

After a short Coffee County kick, Grayson would score on a flashy 39-yard run where he made his final juke on the Coffee County free safety at the 5-yard line. It was 22-7 with 6:05 left.

Cantrell ran like a bull up the middle for a 4-yard TD to put the Pioneers up 28-7. Coffee County responded with a rushing TD of its own to make it 28-14 with 3:41 left. 

Looking to stage a late rally, Coffee County tried an onside kick and the ball took a Red Raider bounce, going high in the air. Owen Clark jumped up to snatch it at its highest point to maintain possession for the Pioneers.

Anaya put an exclamation point on a brilliant offensive night when he took a handoff around right end, cut back across the field and beat the defense to the endzone for a 40-yard TD.

The Pioneer JV team has an extended break and won’t play again until early October.