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Pioneers top state champs in 7-on-7 games
Alex Vanvuuren-Tullahoma 7v7.jpg
WCHS junior Alex van Vuuren hauls in a catch between defenders and hits the pylon to go up 14-0 over the Tullahoma Wildcats on Thursday morning.
Darius Rippy and Collin Panter-Tullahoma 7v7.jpg
Darius Rippy, front, and Collin Panter use all their might to help pull the Wildcats down in their tug of war battle.

By Conner Smith

The WCHS Pioneer football team has been working extremely hard in the weight room and under hot sun for months and now all their hard work has paid off as they were able to take on Tullahoma in a 7-on-7 scrimmage Thursday.

The 7-on-7 consisted of two games between both the varsity and JV squads, along with several lineman competitions to let the big boys have some fun too. 

In round one of games against the mighty defending 4A state champions, the Warren County varsity squad won by a score of 23-7 as Nate Elrod connected with Braylon Grayson and Alex van Vuuren for touchdowns. 

To go along with that, Elrod also caught a touchdown from van Vuuren in the corner of the endzone as the Pioneers rolled over the Wildcats. 

In the JV game, Warren County won 21-7 as junior Brayan Holguin shined catching a touchdown as well as intercepting the Wildcat QB once. The Pioneer defense had both quarterbacks’ numbers as they intercepted the QB duo three times throughout the two sets of games and also broke up several passes. 

In game two nothing changed as the Pioneers dominated Tullahoma on their way to a 17-7 win as this time Elrod threw a TD to Jaythan Pleasant and van Vuuren threw a TD to Grayson as that gave both Grayson and van Vuuren a pair of touchdowns on the day. 

To go along with solid offensive execution, linebacker Nathaniel Edgerton intercepted Tullahoma for the third time on the day. 

On another note, the Pioneer lineman shined competing against the Tullahoma lineman in several challenges including most reps of 185 on bench press, tug of war, a farmer’s carry, and a speed/ agility drill. WC dominated by winning every competition outside of the bench press challenge where Tullahoma edged them out by just 2 reps and also edged them out in the speed drill. 

Warren County victimized the Wildcats in everything else. Overall it was a great first look at the Pioneer football team as the stars from last year shined as well as some kids who will be called on to be good players like Dawson Haley, Wesley Sherrell, and Chandler McCormick.


WCHS head coach Matt Turner and assistant coaches Donnie Harris, Camron Bond and Bryson Cope provided feedback on the Tullahoma scrimmage and offseason work of the players in general.

Cope said, “I am extremely proud of this squad. They lived in the weight room this summer, they bought in this year and they work together, push each other, and are overall a bonded group.” 

Coaches were asked what has contributed to the turnaround in strength and overall execution.

Coach Bond and coach Harris both mentioned the “consistency” and the gained confidence from being able to receive considerable playing time as juniors. Harris mentioned the team’s work in the weight room and that players arrive on the practice field hungry and looking to compete. 

Said Bond, “This is more of a player-led team and as coaches we don’t have to get on kids about cutting reps. They’re following in Braylon Grayson’s steps and in Dayton Jernigan’s steps as they know what happened last year and don’t want to repeat it.” 

Coach Turner brought up again how important experience is and looking back at last year with Siegel when guys couldn’t make the tackle that those kids have grown and are back out now with the experience. Turner expects this year’s team to “play with a chip on their shoulder” and wants to see intensity and competitiveness from this new squad.


Said senior QB Nate Elrod about the scrimmage, “My receivers ran their routes right and were able to create separation with the defensive backs and everything opened up from there.” 

When asked about holding each other accountable and doing things right, Elrod and Braylon Grayson both said it makes their jobs much easier as they now have players who understand their jobs and who want to be on the field, as well as giving it their all.