Only the shrill sound of coach Matt Turner’s whistle seemed to be able to pierce through the dense fog consuming Nunley Stadium. Pioneers littered the field ready for the next obstacle, with tired eyes ultimately giving way to tired legs.
But every time the whistle blew, Warren County went back to work.
Turner’s latest idea for the Pioneers was Friday’s “Dawn of the Dead” workout, his way of concluding a month of workouts before the mandatory TSSAA dead period begins Sunday. The Pioneers were off and running at 5:51 a.m., cresting the stadium steps and were greeted by the sun rising and peeking through a foggy morning.
It’ll be a day Turner will use to motivate his team through the fall.
“These are the days you point back to in the locker room at halftime when guys are tired,” said Turner. “You remember the work you put in during the summer to make sure you can fight through it. We’re building the ability to dig down deep and continue to work.”
Friday’s workout was the last of four special workouts Turner held since the end of spring practice, most targeted to incorporate Nunley Stadium. Although rain forced the Pioneers to move two workouts – called Nunley Nights - to the WCHS indoor facility, Turner will continue to get his team comfortable with the confines of their home stadium.
“You hear it all the time when people ask, ‘Where you do you play your games?’ The response is usually, ‘At the middle school,’” said Turner. “We play at home. This is our home. We’re going to make sure the guys know this is the place for the Pioneers.”
Friday’s workout continued to eschew the normal lifts and running incorporated in sessions. Instead, the Pioneers were pushing sleds, carrying 100-pound weights the length of the field and sprinting the steep hill with kettlebells.
The competition cranked up with over 50 players in attendance. Each workout was designed to promote teamwork among small groups of players, along with the ability to crown a winner.
Winning was the mission and it has forged bonds between the Pioneers throughout the new workouts.
“I feel like it (Friday’s workout) really brought us a lot closer. We found out who really is going to go to bat for each other because we were all tired and didn’t feel like doing anything after workouts Thursday,” said rising senior Eli Buchanan. “We have created a lot of chemistry and gotten a lot stronger while doing it.”
Fellow senior Dillon Haley added, “The turnout shows who on the team is going to make the commitment to be part of something special. Practices like these challenge you mentally and physically. That’s what I enjoy about it so much and I think everyone else does as well.”
The first official day for practice will be Monday, July 29, though the dead period ends Sunday, July 7. The countdown to kickoff hits 62 days Sunday. Warren County will begin its season at home Friday, Aug. 23 against DeKalb County.