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Shining bright at home
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Lex Winfree had a huge day running for the WCMS Pioneers Thursday against Coffee County. Winfree piled up 188 yards as Warren County won 18-8 at home. - photo by Jeffery Simmons

Ben Matheney may petition to play all of his home games during school hours next year. The Pioneers love showing out for a huge crowd.

The WCMS football team took down Coffee County 18-8 Thursday in front of the student body to get one step closer to the Central Tennessee Conference title game. The victory, sealed by another huge game from Lex Winfree and the Pioneer defense, improved the squad to 3-3 this year and 3-1 in CTC play.

Winfree finished with 188 yards rushing and a score and the Pioneers picked off three passes in the second half to compete its sweep of Coffee County this year. It was made even sweeter with the home fans going crazy as the programs are working to get back to their yearly tradition after it was stopped during COVID.

“The win felt good. It’s the first time we’ve been able to play the day game since 2014 here, so it was nice to start the tradition again with a win,” said Matheney. “We didn’t execute as well as should have, but Coffee County played tough.”

The Red Raiders, motivated by the memory of a 44-13 shellacking they took from the Pioneers earlier this season, did all they could to keep the ball away from the  Pioneers. Coffee County routinely bled the clock, but it didn’t matter after Warren County’s quick-strike offense got rolling and pushed out to an insurmountable lead.

Warren County scored with ease on three of its first four possessions (and was only stopped by the clock on a rushed attempt before halftime). Winfree helped the team get off to a smoking start, rampaging off the right end for 40 yards on his first touch.

Two plays later, Dylan Aguilar flew around the left edge for a 21-yard TD as the Pioneers took a 6-0 lead.

Coffee County thought it had the Pioneers pinned deep late in the first quarter, but Winfree had other plans. After a 12-yard carry, Winfree broke free for a 74-yard touchdown with just five seconds to play in the opening period, doubling his team’s advantage to 12-0.

After halftime, Winfree tacked on 50 more yards on two carries before Kristopher Rolbedo got the pay off in the redzone. The shifty quarterback turned a broken play into points after finding nobody to hand off the ball on the snap. Robledo quickly transitioned into running mode, weaving through two tacklers before laying out at the goal line to score on a 14-yard keeper that made it 18-0.

Warren County’s defense made it stand up. Aguilar had a strip-sack to finish the third quarter (though Coffee County recovered), then Peyton Ray opened the fourth with an interception near the goal line.

The Red Raiders did answer by knocking Winfree back for a safety on the next play, but on the ensuing possession for Coffee County, Ivan Pennington stepped in front of a pass to get the ball back for the Pioneers.

Coffee County was able to get a late TD against the Pioneer subs in the final minute and recover an onside kick with 30 seconds to play, but Jay Patillo iced the game with his team’s third interception of the fourth quarter in the waning moments.

Warren County now turns its attention to a trip to Tullahoma, where the Pioneers know they have to win if they want to secure a bid into the CTC championship game in October.

“It’s win or the season is over,” said Matheney about next week’s game. “We have to play our best football right now. We’ll have the same message: do your job and execute. We typically stop ourselves more than our opponents. If we can execute, we can compete with anybody.”

Warren County will face Tullahoma next Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m.