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Pioneers play 7-on-7
Jahaad Middleton reaches out for a ball during practice. The Pioneers are in search of playmakers offensively. Middleton and other skill players will get their chance to shine Saturday when the team competes in 7-on-7 games at UTC. - photo by Jeffery Simmons

The Pioneers got their first taste of live action Tuesday. Matt Turner took his varsity and freshman teams to Tullahoma to compete in 7-on-7 and lineman events.

As to be expected, Warren County took some time to adjust to live competition. After settling down, Turner saw some good things to build on as the Pioneers work toward kickoff Friday, Aug. 23.

“It went well. We were a little shell shocked in the first half,” said Turner. “We took a halftime break and the kids settled in. Tullahoma coach (John) Olive said our bunch looked a lot like his when they did their first 7-on-7 recently. It was our whole reason we went to do it.”

After knocking off some rust, the Pioneers showed the ability to move the ball. Bryson Elrod and CJ Taylor split time at the helm of the offense, a rotation that will likely carry over into the regular season. The quarterback race thinned down recently with the news Clay Thompson, a starter last season, will likely miss the season with an injury.

While Turner enjoyed seeing his offense get some work, defense is where he turned most of his focus.

“Our offense isn’t really a 7-on-7 offense, but this gets work for our defense. Like the rest of the team, the defense played better as the day went on,” said Turner.

The freshmen didn’t need much time to warm up. Turner could hardly hide his excitement about the young members of the Pioneers after their work in Tullahoma.

“The freshmen looked good out of the gate. I’m tickled to death with these guys. We have over 30 coming out every day,” said Turner.

Nathan Elrod took the majority of the snaps at quarterback for the freshman Pioneers. The offensive line worked in other areas, where David Upton and Isaac Slatton, the line coaches, were pleased with the physicality shown.

The varsity Pioneers will back at work Saturday in Chattanooga. Turner is taking his varsity team, including 12 linemen, to compete at the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga.  

“We’re going down there to compete. The kids are excited because we’re going down to compete at Finley Stadium,” said Turner.

The Pioneers will get another look at Tullahoma down the road. Turner has a scrimmage against the Wildcats scheduled for Friday, Aug. 9. The game will be played at Nunley Stadium at 7 p.m.

Kickoff will come two weeks later at home against DeKalb County.