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Pioneers set to air it out in Ravenwood tournament
Football - Nate Elrod.jpg
WCHS junior Nate Elrod, left, looks like he’ll be a fixture in the secondary for the Pioneers this season. Elrod breaks up this pass Tuesday against Tullahoma during a passing scrimmage.
Football - Braylon runs away for TD.jpg
Braylon Grayson, left, an all-region performer last year, runs away from Tullahoma defenders after making a catch over the middle on Tuesday.

The Pioneers will get an early indication of how their passing game stacks up against some of the better high school teams in Middle Tennessee this weekend.

Warren County will be one of 20 teams competing in the Ravenwood Passing Tournament on Saturday in Brentwood.

There are four pools and Warren County has been grouped in Pool D with Lebanon, Springfield, East Nashville and Independence. Based on how teams perform in pool play, seeding will be determined for a single-elimination tournament Saturday afternoon.

The Pioneers are scheduled to face the four teams in pool competition Saturday morning. In addition, they are scheduled to play Community in a non-pool game that won’t count toward seeding.

Warren County faced Tullahoma in a similar passing scrimmage Tuesday at WCHS. There was no official score kept in that scrimmage and Pioneer head coach Matt Turner says Saturday will be more of a true competition with teams awarded 6 points for a TD, 3 points for an interception, and 1 point for a sack. Since there is no pass rush, a sack is awarded if the QB holds the ball for more than 4 seconds.

After a TD, teams are automatically given 1 point without having to kick, or they can decline the point and try for a 2-point conversion.

Coach Turner said Tuesday’s scrimmage against Tullahoma was a promising starting point for the Pioneers in their first action against an opponent.

“I think the whole coaching staff was pleasantly surprised with how well we competed,” said Turner. “We got good film so our next step will be watching film with the players and breaking down every play.”

Turner says junior Nate Elrod has established himself as the favorite to win the starting quarterback position over sophomore Alex van Vuuren.

“One thing I can already see is Nate and Alex are showing more quarterback poise and pocket presence than C.J. had last year,” said Turner. “They are doing better as drop-back passers. I’d say Nate has the upper hand now from his experience. Alex is doing some good things, but he’s only played football for four weeks now. Competition breeds success and I think it’s good for everybody to have competition and to be pushed. It’s also nice to have two good quarterbacks because you never know when somebody might turn an ankle.”

In addition to the 7-on-7 passing drills Tuesday, the linemen from Warren County and Tullahoma competed inside The Facility in a variety of drills. This included individual challenges, like seeing which players could get the most reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, and also some team drills.

“Facing Tullahoma was a great eye-opener for our offensive line,” said Turner. “Tullahoma came in and they were huge. They have some massive linemen and that’s a big reason for their success. In 1-on-1 and team drills, the needle kept leaning toward Tullahoma. I would put their offensive line and their defensive line as one of the best in the state. I was pleased with how some of our players stepped up. Ethan Bernhardt stepped up. These guys aren’t No. 2 on the depth chart anymore.”

The Pioneers are scheduled to begin competition at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning in the Ravenwood Passing Tournament. Spectators are allowed. Pool D will be having its game on the outfield of the Ravenwood baseball field.

Google Maps lists the trip from WCHS to Ravenwood High School as being 78 miles and a 1 hour and 25 minute drive. The address is 1724 Wilson Pike, Brentwood, TN 37027.