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Pioneers look for homecoming win
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The Warren County High School football team continues to search for its first win and it hopes homecoming can help end a six-game losing streak.
The Pioneers (0-3) play host to the Smith County Owls tonight at 7 p.m. at Nunley Stadium. Warren County has lost its first three games this season, which followed a three-game losing streak to end last season.
The Pioneers’ last win came against Cumberland County Oct. 1 last year, a game which served as Warren County’s 2010 homecoming.
Making it two in a row on homecoming could be a problem, as the Owls come into tonight’s game boasting a 3-0 record.
The Owls are already 1-0 against District 6-AAA this season. Smith County defeated White County 41-14 in its season opener. The Owls followed it up with a double-overtime win over Gordonsville 15-14 and are coming off a 19-7 victory over Livingston last week.
Coach Tommy Johnson expects a very good team across the sidelines from the Pioneers tonight. Coach Johnson is hopeful his team can step up to the challenge the Owls present.
“They are going to be a sound football team,” said Johnson. “I expect for us to come out and execute our game plan and be sound as well. We have to play physical and not make mistakes.”
The Pioneers had a hard time at home offensively the first two weeks, but last Friday’s game at Cumberland County saw the ground game start to find traction. With a new-look offense, Warren County piled up 298 yards rushing and 113 yards through the air.
D’Andre League’s debut on offense was a big reason for the Pioneers success. After getting only three carries in his first 13 games as a varsity player, League busted out for 154 yards on 16 carries against the Jets. League also scored a touchdown, one of just three for Warren County this season.
Junior Austin Fisk also made big plays against the Jets. Fisk finished with two catches for 57 yards and added an eight-yard touchdown run. League, Fisk and the rest of the Pioneer offense will face a big challenge tonight though.
Smith County comes in allowing 11.7 points per game and just 193.7 yards of offense to opponents. The Owls also are one year removed from recording five shutouts in the 2010 season.
Defensively, the Pioneers will face another strong rushing team. The last two weeks have seen Warren County surrender over 500 yards on the ground and stopping Jalen Manning will be the Pioneers’ No.  1 priority tonight.
Manning averages over 100 yards a game on the ground for a Smith County offense which relies heavily on its rushing attack. The Owls average over 200 yards rushing a game as a team, while quarterback Gage Spurlock has attempted only 35 passes in three games.
Spurlock has thrown for 285 yards and four touchdowns when the Owls go to the air.
Health may be the biggest reason the Pioneers could improve defensively this week. Senior captain Calvin Hammond is expected to suit up tonight at linebacker after playing just one quarter in the past two games. Sophomore safety Lee Carden, the Pioneers team leader in tackles the first two games, also should be back in uniform after missing last week’s game with a calf injury.
Coach Johnson expects having two team captains back on defense will make the Pioneers more formidable.
“I think we’ll get our leadership back in the right places,” said Johnson. “It helps get our team in the right position on the field.”
Homecoming festivities will be at halftime tonight and the girls basketball team will be having a $5 all-you-can-eat buffet before the game. The tailgating will be located behind Warren County Middle School and will be from 4:30-6:30 p.m.