The Warren County Middle School football team’s second trip to Franklin County in eight days ended the same way as the first, with a Pioneer win.
The Pioneers defeated Franklin South Middle School 36-26 on Tuesday night to move to 3-0 on the season and 2-0 in the Central Tennessee Conference.
Warren County only won by 10 points as two late touchdowns by the Trojans in the final two minutes closed the gap.
Coach Greg Cotten thinks Tuesday’s game showed the Pioneers are starting to reach their potential.
“Our game against South showed us we are very close to where we want to be,” said Cotten. “The score doesn’t really tell a true story of how the game went.”
Though the Pioneers won easily, the game didn’t start the way Warren County would have liked. For the second straight week, the Pioneers were plagued by special-team mistakes.
Warren County elected to receive the opening kickoff, but an onside kick recovery by Franklin South gave the home team the ball.
Six plays later, Franklin South was in the endzone. The Trojans two-point try failed, leaving the Pioneers trailing 6-0 two minutes into the game.
Franklin South recovered a second onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but the Pioneers defense held the Trojans to finally bring the offense on the field.
The ball didn’t stay with the Pioneers long. Christian Wilkinson dropped back to pass on the first play, but was hit from behind as he threw. The ball floated right to a Franklin South player to give the Trojans the ball back on an interception.
After another defensive stand, Warren County got on the scoreboard. Darius Wright capped a two-play scoring drive with a 12-yard run and a two-point conversion run to put the Pioneers ahead 8-6 after one quarter.
Warren County got two big plays in the second quarter to increase its lead. Tyler Mills came up with the first when he returned a punt 65 yards for a score to give his team a 14-6 lead.
The passing game would provide the biggest play of the day moments later. Wilkinson connected with Josh Clark over the top of the Trojan defense for a 79-yard TD pass as Warren County went to the half winning 20-6.
A fumble recovery by Justin Farless to start the third quarter set the Pioneers up with great field position. Starting at the Franklin South 23, Rickie King went 22 yards to put the Pioneers on the doorstep. Wilkinson scored on a quarterback sneak the next play, followed by another sneak for the two-point conversion, to give Warren County a 28-6 lead.
After a Franklin South touchdown late in the third, Wright capped off Warren County’s scoring with the team’s second punt-return touchdown. Wright went 25 yards on the return for the score and King plowed in on the two-point conversion for a 36-12 lead.
Late scores against the Pioneers’ second-string defense wouldn’t bring the Trojans back as the Pioneers remain tied for the CTC lead with Shelbyville and Coffee County.
Warren County will face one of those teams next week as Shelbyville comes to Nunley Stadium on Tuesday night.
Coach Cotten has issued a “Code Blue” for the game, asking fans to fill the stadium in their Pioneer blue shirts.
Coach Cotten and his team know the importance of a win against Shelbyville.
“The kids are excited to be 3-0, but understand that is not our long-term goal for this season,” said Cotten. “ We were 3-0 this time last year before we fell to Harris.
“We would like for everyone to come out and support the team as we continue toward a CTC championship.”
Tuesday’s game begins at 6:30 p.m.