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Hoping for happy homecoming
Xander Lee 2.jpg
Xander Lee's bruising style of running could be a big benefit Friday against the Stars. Siegel surrenderd nearly 200 yards on the ground last week to Coffee County in a 42-36 loss. Lee has gained over 50 yards on the ground in each of the last three games. - photo by Jeffery Simmons
Siegel's Ethan Vanhook.jpg
Photo courtesy of Helen Comer/ Daily News Journal Ethan Vanhook has a knack for making big plays for the Stars. The senior had a touchdown in last year's blowout win by the Stars and is coming off a strong performance against Coffee County.

Forget the pomp and circumstance which surrounds homecoming. Matt Turner wants pounding runs and crushing hits from his Pioneers.

Turner has turned his team’s full attention to Siegel this week, with Friday’s battle serving as an opportunity for Warren County to take another big step toward relevance in Region 3-6A.

“This can be a tough week for preparation with everything else going on around the game, but we’ve brought the guys in and kept the focus on Siegel,” said Turner. “Everything we worked for during the offseason was to be able to give the fans a cause to celebrate on Friday nights. We’re hoping for a big crowd to come out and we don’t want to disappoint them.”

Warren County (2-3) can clinch its first winning record at home since 2012 with a win Friday, as well as its first homecoming victory since taking down Sequatchie County 21-16 in 2015. The Pioneers have beaten DeKalb County 35-21 and Rockvale 36-35 at Nunley Stadium, but tasted defeat for the first time on its home field last week against Blackman 41-7.

This week’s efforts have been refocused on protecting home turf.

“We talked about it all summer when we were under the lights at Nunley Stadium for workouts. This is our house and we want to take care of home field. We have to come out and be the aggressor. Siegel has some talented athletes, regardless of what their record shows,” said Turner.

Siegel (0-5) has owned the matchups the last four years, winning by a combined score of 188-35. The Pioneers have yet to hold the Stars under 44 points in any of the four matchups.

The Stars have started slowly this season, but showed last week they can still pile up points. Siegel scored 36 points, including 22 in the fourth quarter, in home loss to Coffee County. Senior QB Tucker Sears, who torched Warren County for 222 yards and four TDs last year, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another last week.

The Stars also have the ability to pound the ball with tailbacks Ethan Vanhook and Julian Walton.

Getting added points from its defense and special teams could be a recipe for victory for Warren County. In last week’s stunning loss, Siegel outgained Coffee County by 130 yards, but allowed an interception return and kick return for touchdowns.

The Pioneers have created 13 turnovers this year, taking two back for scores – defensive backs Eli Buchanan and Lacedrick ‘Red’ Cox each found the endzone against DeKalb County. Buchanan has also been dangerously close to breaking several kick returns for touchdowns.

Infusing the offense with big plays in other areas could be important. Outside of a 36-point, 389-yard performance against Rockvale, the Pioneer offense has been anemic. Warren County finished with 225 yards or less in its other four games, including last week’s season-low 157 yards against Blackman.

“We have to get our offense on track. On film, you can see where we’re just a few things away from breaking big plays. We just have to make the right reads and follow our blocking. It’s close,” said Turner.

Friday’s game is set to kick off at 7 p.m. The Pioneer Walk will be held at 5:45 p.m.