The TSSAA has released football schedules for 2015, showing a starkly different season in store for the Pioneers than recent years.
Gone are the old rivalries against Sparta, Tullahoma and Crossville, none of which are on this year’s schedule. Rhea County, a state semifinalist in 5A this season, is also off the schedule given the re-alignment of districts which has placed the Pioneers in the largest classification in the state which is centered around the always-tough Murfreesboro area.
All 32 teams in the 6A classification will make the playoffs, meaning Warren County will play at least 11 games this year.
The season will kick off just as it has for the past eight years with a border battle against DeKalb County on Aug. 21 during what is called Week Zero. The game will be held at Nunley Stadium. The Pioneers beat the Tigers in Smithville this year, 34-30.
After opening week, Warren County will embark on a four-game road trip, not to return to the confines of Nunley Stadium until Oct. 2.
On Aug. 28, the Pioneers will renew an old rivalry with Lebanon, which was in the same district as the Pioneers for much of the 1990s. They will make the one-hour drive to Lebanon to take on the Blue Devils before making another drive the following week, Sept. 4, to take on Cookeville, which crushed the Pioneers this season 47-0.
Cookeville and Warren County are still district foes. Normally, the teams would take turns being the home team, but the new alignment caused a reset of the schedule meaning Cookeville will not come to McMinnville until 2016.
Warren County’s next trip will be to Smyrna on Sept. 18 where they will renew acquaintances with a team they once had on their regular schedule. Smyrna is part of the new district.
The Pioneers will play just down the road renewing another old rivalry the following week, on Sept. 25, against Riverdale. Like Smyrna, the Pioneers once had a yearly series against Riverdale and were long district foes. Riverdale is a regular state power.
The Pioneers finally return home Oct. 2 to play host to this year’s state semifinalists, the Oakland Patriots, also part of the new district.
The next week, Oct. 9, will see Warren County start a home/away series with Sequatchie County (Dunlap) in non-conference action. The game will be played at Nunley Stadium this year.
On Oct. 16, Warren County will travel down Highway 55 to take on the Coffee County Red Raiders, who edged the Pioneers this season in overtime, 28-27. Unlike last year, however, this season the foes will be back in the same district together.
The Pioneers will conclude their season at home against two teams they have never faced on the gridiron, both now district foes. On Oct. 23, they will play host to the Siegel Stars before facing the normally ranked Blackman Blaze on Oct. 30.
The state playoffs will begin the next week.