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Pioneers enjoy rest
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Getting right back on the field following a win may be the mindset of many, but don’t count Warren County High School football coach Tommy Johnson as one of those people.
Despite seeing his team beat Coffee County for the first time in his three-year tenure as Pioneer coach, Johnson wasn’t ready to rush back to the field to face the White County Warriors in a do-or-die game in terms of the state playoffs.
Instead, coach Johnson enjoyed having a one-week layoff between District 6-AAA games to get his team rested and ready for another battle.
“This was a very beneficial break for us, one that I wish could have come a little sooner,” said Johnson. “We’ve had a chance to rest some guys and get them healthy. We’ve also gotten into the weight room and continued to work hard.”
Warren County (2-5) knows the stakes will be raised when the Pioneers head to White County this Friday for a battle with the 2-5 Warriors.
Returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 will be on the line as the Pioneers would guarantee themselves a top-two finish in District 6-AAA with a win over White County.
Asking about the playoffs after the season started with a 50-0 loss to DeKalb County may have elicited a tantrum much like Jim Mora’s from coach Johnson, but now the Pioneers are one step away from the goal and their head coach is open to the discussion.
“We’re getting the guys prepared for the next game, which happens to be the biggest game on our schedule,” said Johnson. “We’d be doing the guys a disservice if we didn’t talk playoffs with them. It’s something we’re using as motivation.
“The playoffs are a big deal because it’s a new season. Once you get there, everything restarts. We’re trying to get there.”
Warren County spent last week trying to get rest for several of the team’s two-way starters, while also trying to improve on some weaknesses that still plague the Pioneers.
Coach Johnson led his team to the practice field Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but gave the team the weekend off in hopes that rest now will lead to reward this Friday.
While at practice, the Pioneers worked diligently on defense, where Warren County still hasn’t been able to find the right scheme to stop big plays.
Coffee County had two touchdown passes of over 40 yards against the Pioneers, moving the total number of plays over 40 yards against Warren County this season to 14.
Limiting the big play against White County will be crucial as the Warriors have struggled to score in most of their games this season. White County was averaging only 8.8 points per game before beating Loudon Friday night 27-12.
While the Pioneer defense looks to improve, the Warren County offense will try to build on its success from the last few weeks.
Junior running back Cameron Lusk led a rushing offense that piled up 187 yards and four touchdowns against the Red Raiders.
Lusk passed the 500-yard mark for the season by rushing for 147 yards against Coffee County. Lusk accounted for two touchdowns, while quarterbacks Lee Carden and Hunter Mullican scored once each.
Carden and Mullican should each see action against White County as the junior duo continues to split time at quarterback.
The Pioneers will practice every day this week before heading to Sparta Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.