By the time the Warren County High School football team takes the field tomorrow night, it’ll have been 696 days since the Pioneers won a game.
Since beating the Cumberland County Jets Oct. 3, 2010 at home, Warren County has lost 15 straight games.
Tomorrow night’s opponent at Nunley Stadium is the same Jets squad and coach Tommy Johnson hopes the streak ends with bookend wins against Cumberland County.
“We have to come out expecting to win,” said Johnson. “We did some good things against Shelbyville last week and we have to carry over those things while improving in other areas.”
Turnovers and tackling are the two main focuses coach Johnson has stressed this week in practice.
Warren County (0-2) has fumbled 10 times in the first two weeks and opponents have jumped on four of the loose balls. With the air attack for the Pioneers grounded due to the team’s top two quarterbacks still nursing injuries, falling behind early due to turnovers isn’t an option for coach Johnson’s team.
“Last week, we had two quick turnovers and we were down 21-0 before we knew it,” said Johnson. “With our offense based on running, digging a deep hole is out of the question. We have to protect the ball because when we do, we are able to sustain drives and score points.”
The Pioneers found the endzone twice last week after being held scoreless in the season opener against DeKalb County. Junior quarterback Lee Carden scored once and finished the game with a team-high 107 yards on the ground.
Sophomore Tristan Reish made a statement in the running game as well as he added 87 yards, including a 44-yard scamper, and a touchdown.
With the offense showing signs of improvement, attention has turned to fixing a defense that has yet to slow down an opponent this season.
The Pioneers have allowed 98 points in two games and big plays have been a trend. Of the 14 touchdowns scored by opponents, 11 have been on plays of 20-or-more yards. Coach Johnson knows making teams drive the length of the field and being sure tacklers is the only way to end the losing streak.
“We’ve got the offense going a little bit, but we have to get the defense going too,” said Johnson. “There are still way too many missed tackles.”
The Jets come to Warren County with an 0-2 record. Cumberland County lost 28-27 at Bledsoe County to open the season, then fell 39-20 to Campbell County in Crossville last week.
The Jets haven’t picked up a win this season, but have the team from Cumberland County has been special on special teams.
Eric Telles has scored on a punt return and kick return this season and the Jets have blocked a punt and recovered a fumble on a kickoff for a touchdown.
The Jet offense is led by quarterback Colton Dykes, who passed for 127 yards and rushed for a touchdown against Campbell County. Telles leads a deep backfield for Cumberland County.
Tomorrow’s game was moved to Thursday night before the season to avoid conflict with Friday’s Chick-Fil-A kickoff classic that features the University of Tennessee starting its season against North Carolina State in Atlanta.
Tomorrow’s game is set for 7 p.m.