Lee Carden excels at receiver, starts at safety and does all the snapping on special teams for the Warren County High School football team. Now the player nicknamed “Iceman” will be asked the call plays the Pioneers.
With junior Hunter Mullican and freshman Christian Wilkinson each injured, Carden expects to get the call at quarterback tonight when the Pioneers travel to Shelbyville to take on the Golden Eagles.
The Pioneers saw both of their quarterbacks suffer injuries in the first week of the season, forcing coach Tommy Johnson to reach deep in his bag of tricks to find a player to take snaps.
Enter Carden, who has done everything but mow the field and do the laundry for Warren County. Carden spent time in the offseason running some “Wildcat” looks for the Pioneers, but now he’ll be asked to lead the Pioneer offense on a regular basis until one of the two regular quarterbacks can return.
Mullican was injured last week against DeKalb County on special teams as he took a knee to the helmet while making a tackle. Mullican won’t be cleared to practice until Wednesday and his availability for next Thursday’s home opener against Cumberland County is uncertain.
Wilkinson’s injury dates back to Aug. 13 when the freshman played in a junior varsity game against White County. Wilkinson hurt his knee in the third quarter and sat out the rest of the game.
When Mullican was lost against DeKalb County, Wilkinson was able to take the field, but the knee injury worsened over the weekend and the freshman signal caller sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday. An MCL sprain and stress fracture could keep Wilkinson out a month or longer.
Carden became the default starting quarterback when Wilkinson’s availability for tonight came into question. Sophomore Malik Ladet could also see time at quarterback, but Carden took the majority of the snaps with the first-team offense Wednesday.
Having just a few days of practice for Carden at a new position provides even more challenges for the Warren County offense.
The Pioneers struggled last week offensively as the team didn’t earn a first down until the second quarter when it already trailed 34-0. Gaining only 29 yards on 26 rushes wasn’t what coach Johnson expected when trying to employ a balanced offense this year.
Even if Carden is as cool as his moniker suggests, Warren County could still struggle against a suffocating Shelbyville defense.
The Golden Eagles were disruptive on defense against Coffee County a week ago in a 41-7 victory. Forced turnovers played a big part in Shelbyville’s victory, as did an athletic group of offensive players.
The Golden Eagle offense is led by running back Marquise Morton, a verbal commit to Middle Tennessee State University. In the past two years, Morton has 247 yards and four touchdowns against Warren County as the Golden Eagles won 41-13 in 2010 and 44-0 at Nunley Stadium a year ago.
Marquis Lyons adds another threat out of the backfield and on the outside as the speedster often gets the ball on jet sweeps. Quarterback Brayden Ward triggered the Shelbyville air attack last week with two TD passes against the Red Raiders.
Tonight’s game will begin at 7 p.m. at Shelbyville High School.