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Pioneer offense rules fall camp
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Hunter Mullican finds a wide receiver in the endzone and Warren County High School coach Tommy Johnson cheers. Cameron Lusk piles through defenders on his way for a touchdown and coach Johnson applauds. D’Andre League gets the ball in space and makes defenders miss while coach Johnson watches in awe.
After a week of fall camp, it is the Pioneer offense that has continually impressed the defensive-minded head coach of the Warren County High School football team. It’s an offense coach Johnson is glad he will be coaching instead of coaching against this fall.
“This is the most comfortable I’ve been with the offense since I arrived,” said Johnson as he enters his fourth year with the Pioneers. “Our offense is making us a better, well-rounded team. It feeds everybody and allows everybody to contribute. We find the open man and make plays.”
The difference between this year’s squad and the first three coach Johnson has put on the field is the leadership on the offensive side. Coach Chris MacKeown has made a smooth transition as the team’s offensive coordinator and his impact is already being felt.
“I wasn’t sure how much coach Mac could install of his system this late after we had a good spring, but he’s been able to tweak his scheme to fit what we have,” said Johnson. “We’ve married together what we did in the spring and what he adds. The kids love it. We’ve got a strong running game and good passing game.”
Coach MacKeown was quick to praise the players he inherited when he started coaching the Pioneers when fall camp began. With Mullican being entrenched as a senior starter at quarterback and surrounded by a cast of seniors on offense, his plans have been executed well this week.
Mullican has benefited by the players surrounding him, many who have paid their dues since their freshman years and are ready to make plays as seniors.
Lusk still looks the part of the bruising running back while standing 6-foot-1 and weighing over 200 pounds, but the senior’s speed has stood out. Lusk came into fall practice after running a 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds at Tennessee Tech camp in July. Adding breakaway speed to the ability to move the pile for extra yards makes Lusk an even bigger threat this season.
At receiver, the Pioneers have League and Lee Carden entering their senior seasons with a chance to break the school record for receptions set by Mitchell Ashford last year. Ashford graduated with 68 catches, but League and Carden each come into this season with 45 receptions each.
Senior receiver Park Hilliard and senior tight end Drew Davidson also made big plays in the passing game during fall camp, further adding to an already potent Pioneer offense.
While coach Johnson comes out of fall practice very pleased with the play of his team, he realizes there are things to work on before the season starts Friday, Aug. 23 at home against DeKalb County - a team that beat Warren County 50-0 in last year’s season opener.
“We got to get sharper and in shape before the season,” said Johnson. “Knowing our assignments and what we want to do is going to be key.”
Still, coach Johnson coincides that this is the best he has felt about his roster since being in McMinnville.
“This is most excited that I’ve ever been,” said Johnson. “It’s not just from the player’s standout either. Coaching wise I like who we got and what we’re doing.”
The Pioneers will be back on the field Monday as the team continues to work toward the start of the regular season. The countdown to kickoff stands at 19 days.