For head coach Tommy Johnson, last week’s game against DeKalb County came down to one simple fact, one team made plays and the other didn’t.
Warren County fell 26-7 in the home opener against the Tigers with the Pioneers struggling to find consistent offense or make big stops on defense. Johnson knows the inability to make plays cost his team.
“We didn’t make plays,” said Johnson. “Not making plays and youthful mistakes were a big reason for the loss.”
On offense, the Pioneers biggest gain came on a fake punt by Ricardo Duenas, which resulted in 21 yards. Aside from Duenas surprising the Tigers, Warren County had trouble picking up big chunks of yardage.
The offensive struggles were even more evident on third down, as Warren County converted on only 3-of-13 third downs. The biggest third-down conversion came on Hunter Mullican’s first snap replacing injured starting quarterback Connor Dixon when Mullican hit Mitchell Ashford for 14 yards on a third-and-10 situation.
While the Pioneers struggled to find playmakers and stay on the field, the Tigers found ways to keep their drives sustained for a long period of time.
The Tigers converted on 5-of-12 third downs and had three fourth-down conversions, including two on the Tigers first touchdown drive.
If the Pioneers are to improve this week against Shelbyville, coach Johnson knows the Pioneers with have to play sound assignment defense against an athletic team.
“We have to be able to contain No. 23 (Marquis Morton),” said Johnson. “We’re not talented enough to overcome mental mistakes.”
Morton, who had his sophomore season cut short due to injury last season, had two catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns against the Pioneers last year. Morton is Shelbyville’s starting running back and figures to carry the load against Warren County this Friday.
The Pioneers didn’t have much of an opportunity to get on the practice field on Monday. With the majority of the Pioneers making their way to Cookeville for a junior varsity game, coach Johnson’s varsity team had a one-hour walkthrough practice.
In the JV scrimmage, the Pioneers were given a big scare. Freshman quarterback Zech Clark took a big hit against the Cavaliers on a roll out, getting hit high in the back of the head and low in the leg.
Clark was knocked out and taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital. Clark was responsive following the game and the early prognosis on the injury is a concussion, but Clark will have more tests done this week.
The Pioneers will hold practice today before having a final walkthrough tomorrow to prepare for Shelbyville on Friday night.
The Golden Eagles will come into Nunley Stadium on Friday with the game beginning at 7 p.m.