The Warren County High School football team is usually trying to forget the previous week’s loss when starting practice on Mondays, but this week the Pioneers are putting a win in the past when beginning preparations for the Smith County Owls.
After breaking a 15-game losing streak with a 37-13 victory over the Cumberland County Jets last Thursday, coach Tommy Johnson brought his team back to the practice field Monday with hopes a winning streak will start this Friday.
Despite wanting to celebrate the win a little longer, coach Johnson knew his team needed to put the big victory in the past and start focusing on the Owls.
“It was time to get back to business,” said Johnson. “It wasn’t hard to get the guys focused getting back to work. They came prepared and ready to practice.”
Warren County is riding high after demolishing the Jets in its home opener. Big plays in the passing game, along with the continuing development of a stout running game, helped the Pioneers start 1-0 in District 6-AAA play.
In his second start, Lee Carden ignited the passing game with a 62-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Lance and an 81-yard scoring connection with D’Andre League.
Carden’s rushing numbers were down from his first start, when he rushed for 107 yards against Shelbyville, but starting tailback Cameron Lusk picked up the slack. Lusk rushed for a career-high 160 yards and scored his first touchdown of the season.
Coach Johnson believes the offense is growing with confidence each week and the difference shows in the way the Pioneers prepare in practice.
“The thing I really noticed in practice last week was the guys prepared like a team expecting to win,” said Johnson. “The guys went out and executed what we’ve been teaching in practice. We’re getting comfortable with our offense and getting the ball in our playmaker’s hands.”
While the offense caught fire against the Jets, it was the much-maligned Pioneer defense that may have gotten the biggest confidence boost against Cumberland County.
After allowing a 62-yard touchdown run on the Jets’ opening drive, Warren County allowed only six more points the rest of the game while holding the Jets under 150 total yards.
Coach Johnson praised the play of his defense and its ability to make adjustments on the fly to keep the Jets in check.
“I saw guys growing on the field and learning from their mistakes,” said Johnson. “On their touchdown, we lined up wrong against their formation and it allowed their running back to break free. When the guys got to the sideline, they were already talking about what went wrong and making the necessary adjustments without having to be told.
“As a coach, that makes us proud to see the guys being able to read and react. They’re starting to embrace the things we’ve been teaching.”
This week, the Pioneers will be hoping to get revenge against Smith County, which ruined homecoming last year in Warren County with a 51-0 beatdown of the Pioneers.
Smith County suffered its first loss of the season last week, falling to Livingston Academy 41-19. This week’s game is homecoming for the Owls. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.