It was the moment Donnie Harris had waited for all summer. Harris was standing in the middle of the football practice field at Warren County Middle School with his whistle ready and pads popping all around him.
The new Warren County Middle School football coach began his tenure with the Pioneers Monday with two practices to begin fall camp, both of which Harris thought went well.
“I thought everything went pretty well,” said Harris. “We had some guys getting in their final mandatory day in shoulder pads and helmets, so not everybody was in full gear. It wasn’t full contact, but that was fine because we’re still teaching.”
The Pioneer got on the field last week to do four workouts in shoulder pads and helmets, which the TSSAA mandated to get players acclimated to the heat, but this week was when full-scale work could officially began.
While coach Harris has waited since his hiring in the spring for this day, he eased the team into workouts Monday to allow players to continue to learn the basics being installed. Harris cranked up the learning curve Tuesday, hoping things would start to click.
“With so much new stuff, we have to allow everybody to get it mentally,” said Harris. “In a couple more days, I think we’ll see guys separating and starting to stand out at their positions.”
Harris has had plenty of help teaching his offense and defense as his staff includes Devin Rackley, Bob Burch and Nick Cantrell - all holdovers from last year’s team that was coached by Adam Wood. Players have also gotten insight from Bill Harris, Donnie’s father who coached the WCMS football team in 2006.
Harris recently made another addition to his staff by bringing Nathan Keen in as the team’s offensive line coach. Having coached against Keen in youth league the last few years, Harris knows what his new coach brings.
“It’s nice coaching with Nathan instead of against him,” said Harris. “He’s a guy who will spend the extra time researching and working to get things right.”
The Pioneers will be back at work Wednesday with a pair of workouts beginning at 4 p.m. Warren County will continue to have two practices a day the rest of the week before concluding fall camp by participating in the Boys 2 Men football event held Saturday at Nunley Stadium. The Pioneers will compete in an intersquad scrimmage that is set for 4 p.m.