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Title defense begins WCMS football begins practice
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Work toward defending a Central Tennessee Conference championship began Monday afternoon at Warren County Middle School.
The football team, under the direction of coach Greg Cotten, began practice for the 2011 season, one coach Cotten hopes is as successful as the last time the Pioneers stepped on the football field.
Last season, the WCMS football team tied for the CTC championship, finishing with a 6-2 record. The title was split between three teams, giving the Pioneers a claim to the crown.
Coach Cotten and his team have no intention of sharing this season, as the Pioneers return many players who could contribute to another conference championship.
Despite losing tailback Bryson Lewis, who set a middle school rushing record last season with over 1,400 yards, coach Cotten believes this year’s offense could be even better.
A talented staple of running backs give Cotten the confidence the Pioneers aren’t rebuilding their running game, they are just retooling it.
“I hate to say we’ll be better after losing Bryson, but our three returning running backs are very talented,” said Cotten. “They’re dynamic and can make plays.”
The trio of running backs are Ricky King, Izzy McDonnell and Darius Wright. All three saw action last season, but this year they have been vaulted into play-making status for the Pioneers.
All three possess deceptive quickness, but their calling card is being physical. During the Red and White game last spring, King and McDonnell both rushed for over 100 yards while Wright made his contributions as a back-up quarterback and situational tailback.
Wright has settled back into his spot at running back since the start of practice because of Christian Wilkinson’s established position at the No. 1 quarterback spot.
Wilkinson returns for his eighth-grade year after starting seven games for the Pioneers last season. Wilkinson showed flashes of bringing a vertical passing attack to the Pioneers. Coach Cotten hopes Wilkinson’s growth, along with the development of Will Lupo at tight end can give the Pioneers balance on offense.
“We’re going to be a run-first offense, much like we were two years ago,” said Cotten. “Christian is a player at quarterback who gives us options.”
Defensively, the strength of the Pioneers lies in the trenches. Coach Cotten’s defensive line could rival some high school teams in sheer size. The Pioneers have three players on their line over 6-feet-tall and weighing over 200 pounds.
Behind the massive line will be several attacking linebackers, including King and McDonnell. The Pioneers could be tested on the outside this season, but Cotten is hopeful the secondary will fall into place as practice moves along.
The Pioneers will see their first live action next Thursday when Cannon County comes to town for a scrimmage. It will be the first of three scrimmages the Pioneers will have in the preseason.
Next Thursday’s scrimmage will be held at Warren County Middle School and begins at 6 p.m.
The Pioneers will also be participating in the “Boys to Men” football event at Nunley Stadium on Aug. 13. The WCMS Pioneers will have an intersquad scrimmage at the event, as will coach Tommy Johnson’s Warren County High School team. Several local youth teams will also be involved in the day-long event.