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Pioneers ready for redemption
football

When the Pioneers moved out of the Murfreesboro region before 2021, coach Matt Turner didn’t want to lose touch. Knowing any road to the state title would likely run through Rutherford County, Warren County kept Siegel on its schedule. 

The Stars will be coming to Nunley Stadium Friday, providing the Pioneers another test as they try to turn the tides of a season full of close losses so far. 

“We’re working to stay the course and keep moving forward. Last week was another tough one, but the good thing is we get another opportunity this week,” said Turner. “I know there’s frustrations about our start – nobody is more aware of it and wants to change it than us. If we’re going to turn this around, we’ll need to start showing it against a good group from Siegel.”

Seigel (3-2) has flashed some impressive talent this year and already has a big 31-28 overtime win over Lebanon – the preseason favorite in the Pioneers’ region. The Stars also have the momentum in the series, which started in 2015, after winning last year's matchup 42-12. 

Cory Sims, Siegel’s stout running back, was key in helping his team snap a two-game losing streak to the Pioneers last year and only seems to be getting stronger. Sims had 212 yards in the meeting last season and is just two weeks removed from scoring three times in a huge win over the Blue Devils.

“A lot of our offseason training was based on getting stronger and some of that could be pointed directly to that Siegel game last year. We’ll see if that work paid off – their running back is a tough kid to bring down and we’re going to have to be strong at the point of attack,” said Turner.

Siegel also has QB Thomas Santel back, who had two rushing touchdowns in last year’s game as he is as much of a threat to run as he is to throw. The Stars only needed one completion to win last year while rushing for 328 yards and six scores. 

Warren County (1-4) will be hoping to rekindle some of magic at home against the Stars. The last time the two teams met at Nunley Stadium, CJ Taylor dove over the top on a 2-point play in the final minute to lead the Pioneers to a 29-28 victory – their first over Siegel in five tries. The Pioneers went on to win the 2020 meeting in Murfreesboro 25-20, but the Stars' win last year leaves the series 5-2 in favor of Siegel currently.

Expect to see at least one change to the Pioneers this week. Barring any last-minute switches, junior QB Alex van Vuuren should make his first career start behind center. Van Vuuren played most of last week’s game at QB while Nate Elrod made a switch to wide receiver and has taken the majority of the first-team snaps this week.

Entering the game, the Pioneer offense is led by junior Jaythan Pleasant's 381 rushing yards and four scores. Braylon Grayson paces the defense with over 60 tackles in five games.

Kickoff for Friday’s game is set for 7 p.m. Tickets will be available on GoFan and at the gate beside the RA building.