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Pioneers searching for road win
Cristian Espinoza.jpg
Cristian Espinoza has been an immovable force on the Pioneer defensive line. The senior will need to play big against a Cookeville squad that rushed for 357 yards in last week's win over Coffee County.
Noah Martin.jpg
Senior LB Noah Martin, left, combines with CJ Taylor to make a tackle in last week's win over Siegel. Martin (58 tackles) and Taylor (42) lead the team in stops this season.

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest the Pioneers can play with anybody on their home turf. To take the next step as a program, Warren County is going to have to win a game on the road.

Friday’s trip to Cookeville would be the perfect time to break away from the team’s road woes.

For the third time this season, Warren County will hit the road following a big victory. In each of the previous trips, the Pioneers fell flat, dropping a disappointing 20-7 outcome in Cannon County and losing at Lawrence County 28-21.

Coach Matt Turner is aware of his team’s struggles away from Nunley Stadium, where the team is 3-1 and owns victories over Region 3-6A foes Siegel and Rockvale. Changing the team’s success on the road, especially in a tough place like Cookeville, is on everybody’s mind this week.

“Good teams get things done on the road,” said Turner, who is 3-3 in his first season with the Pioneers. “We have all the pieces to be able to compete on the road. We have a lot of fight, we just have to take that and sustain it for four quarters. This is a game where we can’t start slow.”

Warren County enters the game with a leg up on Cookeville in the region standings, but the Pioneers still have two tough road games at Riverdale and Oakland on the slate. The Cavaliers (2-4, 1-2) have already faced the Warriors and Patriots, falling in both games. 

The Cavaliers earned their first region win last week, beating Coffee County 41-14.

Cookeville has been a house of horrors for Warren County over the years. Along with winning the last 10 games in the series (the Pioneers beat Cookeville 20-14 in 2008 at Nunley Stadium), Cookeville’s domination at home extends back into the 1980s.

Warren County last won in Cookeville in 1987, taking down the Cavaliers 30-29 under coach Ray Barnes.

Cookeville won last year’s meeting, also on the road, 42-3. Since the regions realigned in 2015, the Cavaliers have won the last four games by a combined score of 161-29.

Turner is hoping to cut into that margin of victory in the series, even if it’s by one point. 

“We’ve embraced being the underdog. A lot of people have been counting us out, waiting for the ‘same ole Warren County’ to show up. We’re trying to change that mindset one game at a time,” said Turner.

Friday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The game will serve as homecoming for the Cavaliers.