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Pioneers ready to take flight in Spring Fling
Hernandez Catching Ball against Rutledge 5-19.jpg
Two of the fastest Pioneers match up on this play as Harley Hernandez, right, makes a catch on a deep pass against Kaden Rutledge. - photo by Brad Durham

Pioneer head football coach Matt Turner has organized a Spring Fling ending that concludes spring practice this Saturday at Nunley Stadium. 

Turner has reinvented the youth football program that is entitled the PFL, Pioneer Football League. It is a flag football league for all youth who wish to play football between the ages of 4-12. The PFL will play Saturday at Nunley Stadium from 9 to 11 a.m.

The middle school football team coached by Ben Matheney will have an intrasquad game Saturday at 4 p.m.

The concluding game at Nunley Stadium on Saturday will be the high school football team’s No. 1 offense playing against the No. 1 defense. After the game there will be a Pioneer Booster Meeting at Nunley Stadium.



There are many new faces on the high school football team. One new member will be Kaden Rutledge who is playing at cornerback. Owen Clark is playing at receiver. Both Rutledge and Clark, rising juniors, are basketball players who have added football to their athletic resume.

According to coach Matt Turner, all positions are open until the first game in August. One position that will have a new face is quarterback. Rising junior Nate Elrod is the frontrunner, and behind him is rising sophomore Alex van Vuuren who is playing his first season of competitive football.

There will be several new lineman on both sides of the ball. Penciled in at left tackle is Will Daivis who is 6-foot-7 and weighs 312 pounds. Chandler McCormick, a rising junior, is projected to start at center.

One player who has created some bright spots at running back in spring practice is rising sophomore Jaythan Pleasant. Pleasant can break tackles and find open ground. Apparently, he has good field vision, some natural moves and speed sufficient to escape defensive players in practice. 


The two mainstays of the Pioneer football team are rising juniors Dayton Jernigan and Braylon Grayson. It is unimaginable that they will not be starting this fall. Jernigan is projected to start at right tackle, and Grayson is a linebacker who can make a tackle anywhere on the field, on any given play. Both players are high on coach Turner’s short list of seasoned, solid Pioneer football players.

Eli Cantrell will be a projected starting running back, and he should be interesting to watch this Saturday. Cantrell was a tough, relentless running back last fall who should be a major contributor on offense for Squad#53.


Braylon Grayson on Saturday’s game, “Probably going to play just defense on Saturday. During the season, I will be going back and forth.”

Kaden Rutledge on playing football, “I like it. I am loving it. I should have been playing earlier. It is going to help me with basketball a lot. I will be red (jersey) on Saturday at corner on defense.”

Dayton Jernigan on the difference of this year compared to last year, “The biggest difference really is the leadership I have on the offensive line, and having the intense practices.”

Rising sophomore Dawson Haley commenting on a sports reporter’s appearance, “You look like coach Klein from Waterboy.” His comment received a lot of laughs on the sideline.


Defensive coordinator Camron Bond, “Braylon Grayson looks like a veteran out there. There are a lot of new, first-time kids getting experience out here. Braylon is leading them. The defense is new. Kaden Rutledge is out here. We have some freshman playing. It is good to see new faces out here, and we did not have spring practice last year, so this is positive, a better learning experience for us.”

Linebacker coach Robert Piche on the differences between wrestling and football practice, “Wrestling is very intense, fast moving. Football is more play-by-play, with some breaks in between. Grayson makes my job a lot easier. Eli Cantrell has been working with the offense, but look forward to having him some on defense. We have to improve. Some guys are still learning the position. I have wrestling practice right now.”

New receiver coach Ralph Grover said, “Owen Clark is going to be great if he can give us his best effort. I want to get all the guys playing. It is great to be out here. I feel like I am in my 20s again.”

Head coach Matt Turner said, “We may see some guys switch back and forth on Saturday from offense to defense. The offense will be blue and defense will be red. Our PFL will be Saturday morning. We have a lot going on Saturday. I am excited.”