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Pioneers getting fired up for football season
Football - Nate Elrod 7-30.jpg
WCHS junior Nate Elrod has confidence and has been effective in his first extensive reps as a varsity quarterback. - photo by Brad Durham

The Warren County Pioneer football team traveled to South Pittsburg on Friday night to scrimmage East Hamilton and South Pittsburg. Although the format was unusual with a mixture of 7-on-7, linemen against linemen, and traditional offense versus defense, it was a return to normal in terms of being able to scrimmage opposing teams. 

Last year, COVID-19 protocols prevented preseason scrimmages.

The Pioneer JV and varsity scrimmaged against the opposing teams. WCHS head coach Matt Turner said he would have to view the film to see what really happened. For spectators, the action may have resembled a three-ring circus with JV scrimmages taking place on half of the football field, and the varsity competing on the other half.

What exactly did Warren County learn Friday night? According to coach Turner, the team showed him it’s ready to compete against other teams. The Pioneers competed and felt good about how they performed, yet there were some strong suggestions by assistant coaches after the game to players that they come to practice this week and correct some mistakes. 

Some players will need to study plays more. Some players will have to work on technique more. 

All three teams appeared fairly even when competing against each other, and Warren County’s varisty certainly competed well. However, there were plenty of mistakes that should be expected with a young Pioneer team. Surprisingly, all three teams at South Pittsburg appeared to be more dominant on offense than defense. 

The veterans played well for Warren County. Braylon Grayson, Dayton Jernigan, and Eli Cantrell showed up on the field. He may lack varsity experience, but quarterback Nate Elrod ran the offense with confidence and precision.

Cantrell was the tailback in the Pistol-Wing offense. The wingbacks were Braylon Grayson, Jayson Pleasant, and Davon Miller. 

Warren County moved the ball consistently on the ground with plenty of new linemen such as Will Davis, Ethan Bernhardt and Chandler McCormick joining veteran Dayton Jernigan. 

The main receivers for the Pioneers were Harley Hernandez and Kayden Rutledge.


HEAD COACH

COMMENTS

Turner said the main thing he took away from the scrimmage was his team’s determination to compete. Turner said, “I feel like we are competitors. These guys are learning how to compete just like Squad 51 and Squad 52 learned to compete. They are going to keep grinding, and keep going. There were a couple of times tonight when we could have tucked and folded, but the kids kept grinding. We will evaluate film, make corrections and step up next week with a big challenge against Tullahoma.”



PLAYER COMMENTS

Dayton Jernigan was optimistic after the scrimmage. Jernigan said, “We came out and did better than I expected. To be honest, all these guys not having varsity experience really came out and played. I was really excited, and it was eye-opening to see how well they did.”

Braylon Grayson shared similar positive comments after the scrimmage. Grayson said, “I think we are doing pretty good. We all know the plays. On defense, we just have to work on the running game. The offense looked good, but the defense needs a little bit of work.”

New varsity lineman Will Davis enjoyed the scrimmage. Davis said, “It was fun. I liked the final part where we went offense versus defense, not just one-on-one. I like playing against another team with other people beside me.” 


FINAL OBSERVATIONs AND THOUGHTS

South Pittsburg head coach Chris Jones provided a scouting report on Warren County after the scrimmage. Jones said, “Warren County has skill and a lot of kids. It looks to me as though they are young because you see some uncertainty in their eyes. But they have some guys that can run. That little tailback, No. 24 can really go. He has a lot of talent.”

He was referring to Braylon Grayson.

Warren County needed the scrimmage Friday night at South Pittsburg against other teams. The Pioneers know what they have to work on, and they will have a good test next Friday night at Tullahoma in a scrimmage with game-type conditions. 

The young, inexperienced Pioneer players will learn a lot from the trip to South Pittsburg, and they will know a lot more about themselves after the trip this Friday to Tullahoma.

The future may be uncertain for the Pioneers who have the pressure of continuing the winning season that last year’s team accomplished. A good crowd of Pioneer fans showing up in Tullahoma next week would be a welcomed show of support for the young Pioneer football players. As high school football continues to return to normal, a cheering Pioneer crowd at Tullahoma should provide the encouragement a young team needs.