The slate is clean for the Warren County High School football team entering tonight’s game against the Cumberland County Jets.
The Pioneers have opened up the season with two straight home losses, but enter tonight with an 0-0 record in District 6-AAA.
If Warren County wants to make a return trip to the playoffs, a win tonight would go a long way to trying to secure a spot.
Standing in the Pioneers way are the Jets, who have also began the season 0-2.
Cumberland County lost its opening game 34-14 at home against Bledsoe County before dropping a 34-28 contest at Campbell County last week.
The Jets and Pioneers have more in common than just their records.
Both teams have struggled with turnovers this season, with Warren County coming in with five through two games while the Jets turned the ball over four times in last week’s game alone.
Like the Pioneers, the Jets focus most of their offensive attack on the ground. In last week’s loss, senior Tyler Howard rushed for 245 yards on 23 carries and had two touchdowns. Howard, a returning District 6-AAA performer, also had four fumbles, two of which were recovered in the redzone.
Warren County’s star offensive player through two weeks has been sophomore Cameron Lusk. Lusk has 147 yards on 40 carries through two games and also scored the Pioneers only touchdown this season.
Coach Tommy Johnson has spent this week trying to find more options on offense. With Hunter Mullican stepping into the starting role at quarterback full time due to Connor Dixon’s potential season-ending shoulder injury, the Pioneers will try to surround their sophomore signal caller with more playmakers.
Sophomore D’Andre League, junior Alex Hillis and several other Pioneers have seen their numbers called more on offense this week.
If the Pioneers offense is to get on track this week, it may have to be through the air. The Jets gave up 370 yards of offense last week against Campbell County. Of the 370 yards, 340 came through the air. Wide receivers Mitchell Ashford and Lee Carden could each do damage against a weak pass defense tonight.
Warren County is hopeful some of its key players could see action this week after sitting out last week. Senior offensive linemen MaCrae Thomsen and Nick Sangi each sat out last week. Thomsen, the team’s starting center and middle linebacker, should be back after giving his injured ankle an extended rest. Sangi could be a game-time decision as he recovers from a concussion.
Senior linebacker Calvin Hammond also looks to be ready to go tonight. After playing just one quarter against the Golden Eagles last week, Hammond has spent the majority of this week on the practice field.
Tonight could be the first time the Pioneers go into a game without at least two starters out from the defensive side of the ball. Warren County has been without Justin Savage all season at defensive tackle, but the junior was walking at practice this week without the bulky knee brace he’s had since suffering a knee injury against Lincoln County in an Aug. 4 scrimmage.
Savage probably won’t see action tonight, but the Pioneers’ senior trio of linebackers could all be on the field at the same time for the first time.
Hammond and Thomsen will join Cory Prince, who returned last week with four tackles against Shelbyville after sitting out week one with a concussion.
Tonight’s kickoff at Cumberland County High School is scheduled for 7 p.m.