Expect another race to 30 points Thursday night at Nunley Stadium. It may even take 40 to win.
The Warren County High School football team will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak when it welcomes Coffee County to town on a rare Thursday night game – one which will start at 7 p.m. and should be a high-scoring affair.
Coming off a 47-0 loss in its District 6-AAA opener at Cookeville, the best thing to cure the Warren County offense could be a matchup with the Red Raiders. Coffee County is allowing 48 points per game in its first three contests – all losses – and has allowed opponents to reach 50 or more points twice, including last week’s 50-42 loss to Columbia.
Warren County, which scored 62 points in its first two games before being shut out last week, is hoping to get its ground game back on track Thursday. The Pioneers rushed for 394 yards in their season-opening win against DeKalb County, but finished with negative yardage last week against the Cavaliers. Senior Bryson Lewis, who averaged over 100 yards in the first two contests, was held to four yards on only five carries against Cookeville.
Lewis and the rest of the Pioneer running backs could be licking their chops Thursday though.
Coffee County surrendered 378 yards on the ground last week to Columbia. In its previous game – a 42-6 loss to Rhea County – the Red Raiders allowed 220 yards on the ground.
Coffee County has had some trouble stopping opponents, but the Red Raiders haven’t had any problems getting their offense going.
New coach Ryan Sulkowski took over a team which averaged only 13.7 points per game last year and has been able to churn out 76 points in three games.
The Pioneers will likely see another dual-threat quarterback Thursday as freshman Alontae Taylor made his first start for the Red Raiders last week. Taylor was spectacular in his debut, rushing for 227 yards and throwing for 99 more while accounting for three touchdowns.
Taylor started for Jimmy Hollandsworth, though the senior was the one in the game when the Red Raiders nearly tied last week’s game in the final seconds.
Hollandsworth hit big-play receiver Boone Riddle with two long passes, but the Red Raiders were stopped two yards short of a potential score.
With Taylor, Hollandsworth, Riddle and several more Red Raiders making plays, Coffee County bears little resemblance to the team that Warren County topped 32-21 last year in Manchester.
The Pioneers are trying to overcome some defensive deficiencies of their own with Coffee County coming to town. Warren County is allowing 38.3 points and surrendering 230 yards per game on the ground.
Hopefully helping the cause on defense this week for the Pioneers could be the return of senior safety Zech Clark. Clark, who hasn’t played this season, was a participant in Monday’s practice. Clark is a two-year starter at safety.
The Pioneers hold a two-game winning streak in the series, having won 43-32 in 2012 at Nunley Stadium as well. Winning each of the last two matchups has given Warren County a 20-19 edge in the rivalry dating back to 1969.
The matchup with the Red Raiders will be the first time the Pioneers have played on Thursday since 2012, when Warren County played host to the Cumberland County Jets. The Pioneers won that game 37-13.