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WCHS football looks to build on success
Nate Elrod FB Practice 5-3.jpg
Quarterback Nate Elrod does an excellent job of looking like Eli Manning during the first day of spring practice for the high school Pioneer football team. - photo by Brad Durham

The WCHS Pioneer football team was very active over four days recently. 

This past Friday, the team celebrated the end of a Liftathon with a series of conditioning events at the indoor facility. The Liftathon has raised over $28,000 and counting, which has exceeded head coach Matt Turner’s goal of $25,000. 

On Saturday morning, the team worked on a Habitat for Humanity house and helped raise the walls of the home. Monday was the advent of spring practice and over 50 high school athletes participated. Squad#53 is off to an impressive start in 2021.

The work crew at the Habitat for Humanity house stated on Saturday that the entire team was extremely helpful and well-behaved. Larry Smith, a volunteer, said, “They were outstanding young men. They worked very hard and were a pleasure to be around.” The team raised a lot of money and immediately gave back to the community. The generous supporters of the football team should be proud of the team’s effort Saturday.

Coach Turner was excited about the Liftathon and first day of practice. Turner said, “I am excited. The energy is great. We’re coming off a good winter workout and Liftathon. Last number I saw was $28,000 and kids are still bringing money in.”

Monday was a day in which coach Matt Turner got down to football business with the new team. There were several veterans on the team, but Turner stressed how difficult football can be to the newcomers on the team before they hit the practice field. Coach Turner told the team in the locker room that football is not for everyone, but there are a variety of places on the team for supporting roles.



Coach Turner spoke intently to the entire team Monday. He said, “Football is a means to an end. It is going to end. I want you juniors to discover which schools you want to go to, and we will find out if they have football. Take advantage of this. If you literally cannot do it, I get it man. You got this 350-pound coach trying to make you practice. All you have to do is tell me that you may need a break. I want you here because you want to be here.”

Coach Turner continued his pre-spring practice address, “I guarantee that almost everybody in here needs football. We are family. We have to work together. We have to get along."

"We are going to pick each other up. If it gets too overwhelming, if you don’t think it is for you, don’t just quit. It may not be for you to put that helmet on and run into people. But there are things you can do on this team. It will be special, I promise you. We need video, we need equipment managers, we need ball boys. I get it! Football is not for everyone. We need someone to help snap balls and do things to help this team,” Turner continued.


Returning rising junior lineman Dayton Jernigan talked about his enthusiasm for spring practice. Dayton said, “I am feeling good about it. I am really amped up. I am ready, and we start wrestling practice after this today. I am very dedicated to both. I have definitely grown some since last year. I am about 6-foot-4 and a half right now. I weigh 270 now, and I played at 235 last year.”


There was a lot of enthusiasm in the locker room and on the field Monday. On the field the players were in helmets and shorts, no pads. Many new players were learning some buzz words and techniques. 

For example, defensive coordinator Camron Bond explained what “hawk tackling” meant. Squaring up your body to the ball runner, and keeping inside leverage. Coach Turner explained what inside leverage meant. A new day had started with many new players.

Eleven eight-graders were observing practice. The eight-graders cannot practice until the school year officially ends, but it was encouraging to see younger kids from the feeder program present to observe the first day of spring practice.

It may be difficult to put into words, but there is a different intensity on a football team than most other sports. There are more players on the team, and there are more physical demands. Football is a contact sport, and Squad#53 will have a lot of new faces competing for positions. This team is off to an amazing start by raising over $28,000. Winning has changed the landscape, and the winning spirit was present on the first day of Spring Practice.

If anyone wishes to support the team’s Liftathon that ended last week but was not able to make a donation, the online link is still active at: