The Pioneers gave their fans a homecoming to remember last week. This Friday, Warren County will try to make Cookeville’s homecoming one to forget for the home fans.
Coach Matt Turner will be leading his team into hostile territory for the third time this season, with hopes this time will be different. Warren County has lost its previous two road contests and hasn’t found success in Cookeville since 1987.
For Turner, it’s all about doing the little things necessary to win.
“It’s going to be loud. They’re going to have a good crowd there, and I think we’ll have a lot of fans as well,” said Turner. “We have to do our jobs every play. We’ve talked about it since the spring – if things don’t go our way, burn the ship and move on.
“We know what has happened on the road this year for us. We can’t look back. It’s all about this week and taking care of what we need to do.”
If the homecoming pageantry isn’t enough, both teams will need this game to make a postseason push. Warren County already has two region wins, while Cookeville picked up its first last week by beating Coffee County 41-14.
Winning this game is a step closer to playing more games in November.
“There’s no extra motivation we have to add to this game. We knew when the schedule flipped a couple weeks ago that every game has to be a playoff game for us,” said Turner. “It’s Cookeville – it’s a region game. These are the games we were working toward all spring and summer. We have to play well and start fast.”
Warren County (3-3) enters the game relying on quarterback CJ Taylor, who is coming off the best game of his career. Taylor threw for 149 yards and rushed for 132 yards and four scores in last week’s comeback victory over Siegel.
For the season, Taylor has 523 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. His play has been noticed around the region.
“Their quarterback is a very elusive player, and we haven’t seen anybody like him. He is a game breaker, and he does a lot of stuff for them. He’s a heck of a runner, and he’s a good-sized kid,” Cookeville coach Jimmy Maynord told the Herald Citizen this week.
Maynord, who has won six straight against the Pioneers since taking over at Cookeville in 2013 has had his eye on Warren County all week.
“This is not your typical Warren County team. They’re pretty good this year. We’re going to have to prepare well because what (Warren County) does is different from anything we’ve seen. If you look at the times we’ve played with running quarterbacks, we’ve not done very well at stopping them. It’s a big concern for us,” Maynord told the Citizen.
Cookeville will attack with a signal caller just as apt to run as throw. Junior quarterback Stockton Owen leads the Cavaliers in rushing (628 yards, nine TDs) and passing (688 yards, 57.8 percent completion percentage).
Sophomore tailback Evan Whited is coming off his best game, rushing for 132 yards on six carries, including scoring on runs of 65 and 22 yards, against Coffee County. Senior WR Brayden Nivens is Owen’s favorite receiver, leading the team with 15 receptions for 222 yards.
Kickoff Friday night is set for 7 p.m.