The high school Pioneer football team has finished two weeks of summer conditioning with a full squad of varsity and freshman players.
The Pioneers will get their first test as a team on Tuesday with a 7-on-7 competition against Tullahoma that will include competitions for linemen as well. Most of the attention in a 7-on-7 contest is on passing.
Warren County has two quarterbacks competing for the starting position. Junior Nate Elrod has experience in his favor as he battles sophomore Alex van Vuuren. Elrod is also being heavily counted on at safety by defensive coordinator Camron Bond. Harley Hernandez is expected to be a reliable receiver. Donathan Lewis is a speed machine who can help open up a passing game.
After the final practice of the week on Thursday, head coach Matt Turner talked about the status of his team. Turner said, “I felt like our numbers were there, our effort was there. We are starting to figure out the summer routine. It’s the second week, and things are going pretty well. I think the kids are working hard, and our staff is starting to find their roles.”
Turner also discussed the upcoming 7-on-7 competition against Tullahoma, “I am always evaluating what we have installed, seeing how much of what we have learned is being absorbed. I want to see how their competition level is. I know Tullahoma is coming in with some high expectations. They have a big offensive and defensive line, and there will be competitions for linemen too. Everyone has a big ego on their back porch. I like it because we will be working with coach Olive and coach Sisk. If we need to see something over again, we can blow the whistle and do it again. I think we like helping each other out.”
The TSSAA Board of Control recently removed new region opponent Shelbyville from playoff probation for a fight with Franklin County last season during a game. This was not a surprise to coach Turner.
“I knew Shelbyville would get off probation,” said Turner. “I am glad for the kids. They will learn from it and I am glad they got off it.” This means that all five teams in the new region will be competing for four slots in the playoffs.
One player who is distinguishing himself on both sides of the ball is sophomore Jaythan Pleasant. After practice on Thursday, Pleasant talked about playing offense and defense. Pleasant said, “I like offense the best so far. I play a wing. I like defense. It is not my favorite thing, but I will play it if I have to.”
Pleasant looks like a football player who will be getting some playing time in the new season.
At this time last summer, coach Turner said no one had any idea what the Pioneers had. One thing everyone knows for sure this summer is players have to step up to replace the offensive firepower the Pioneers had last season.
The major part of that offense is now on the Vanderbilt campus in Nashville preparing for his freshman year of football. The Pioneers will miss C.J. Taylor, and the passing game appears to be one aspect the Pioneers are focusing on with high expectations. Tuesday’s competition will be a good test of the progress Warren County is making with a new team.
The Pioneers will be competing against Tullahoma on Tuesday at the high school practice field that is presently in great shape. Tullahoma and Warren County are scheduled to start the 7-on-7 competition at 9:30/10 a.m.