The lights remained off at Nunley Stadium Friday night and the buses stayed parked. Members of the Warren County High School football team had to find different ways to spend their night as the bye week kept the Pioneers at home.
The bye came at a welcome time for Warren County as the team has lost seven straight games and needed a break to rest up many injured players.
Coach Tommy Johnson practiced his team hard for three days last week, but the past three days have been a resting period for the Pioneers.
Coach Johnson thought the down time was necessary as his team nursed bumps and bruises all season and needs to be healthy for the final three weeks.
The Pioneers second-year head man thinks the final three games could be a stepping stone for success next season.
“We’re going to keep working hard and try to end this season on a high note,” said coach Johnson. “Our guys had a good week of practice and maybe the best week in the weight room all season.”
Before coach Johnson gave his team four straight days off, he went to work on the practice field focusing on one fundamental football play, tackling.
Warren County’s Achilles’ Heel on defense this season has been the inability to stop big plays because of missed tackles. Coach Johnson knows his team can get in position, but now he wants his players to understand they have to let their athleticism take over.
“My defensive coordinator in Jacksonville when I played was Dick Jauron. He said something that has stuck with me for years. He would tell us, ‘give me three or four steps and then be an athlete.’ That’s what we’re trying to teach our guys,” said Johnson.
“We’re getting players in position to make plays and they understand their assignments. Now, they have to make the plays at the point of attack.”
Wednesday’s workout was one of the more spirited practices for the Pioneers. The team separated into offense and defense and worked on one-on-one tackling drills.
The head-to-head competition seemed to fire up the players and the coaches. With the pads popping and coaches and players cheering, the Pioneers showed the season of futility hasn’t affected the overall spirit.
Warren County will hit the practice field tomorrow to begin preparations for the White County Warriors. The Pioneers are hoping to end a 10-game losing streak and pick up their first District 6-AAA victory of the season.
Coach Johnson feels like a win would go a long way into helping the overall morale of his team.
“I think our guys are still excited, still working hard and learning,” said Johnson. “It’s just about bringing everything together and playing four quarters of good football and building some momentum.”
Friday’s game will be the final home game for the Pioneers and serve as senior night for 11 players. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.