The time has come to separate varsity from JV players on the Warren County High School football team.
Head coach Matt Turner said Wednesday’s practice was the first time the varsity and JV teams were split into two distinct groups. The separation will allow coaches to focus on the players who will take the field on Friday nights and try to give the Pioneers back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1982 and 1983.
Warren County has right at 30 varsity players heading into a three-team scrimmage this Friday against South Pittsburgh and East Hamilton.
“Right now for our travel squad, our varsity guys, we have 29 people who are on that bus,” said Turner. “You have to earn your spot on the bus and those seats could change. Right now, with the season so close, we have to focus on the varsity guys and make sure they are the ones getting the reps. At this point, we can’t have varsity guys standing around in practice.”
Commitment Camp and the rigors of preseason training have proven to thin the heard so to speak. Turner said a few players have decided to turn in their pads and leave the team. A couple have been discovered to be ineligible due to academics, and a few more have been injured. All of this has happened since Sunday.
“Of those 29 guys, we have to put the best 11 on the field,” said Turner. “If one of those 11 gets tired, we have to go with No. 12. That’s how we’re approaching this. We have to get guys ready to play. This is 6A varsity football and we’re just 22 days away from our opener,” he said Wednesday.
The Pioneers are set to open their season Aug. 20 at home against DeKalb County.
Turner says he is looking to firm up starters on the offensive line and six or seven guys are in the mix for playing time. Dayton Jernigan, the only returning starter on the OL from last year, is a lock at one tackle spot. He is big and powerful.
Other players in the mix for starting spots on the OL include Levi Melton, Chandler McCormick, Ojanni Hernandez, Ethan Bernhardt, Will Davis and Zach Luck.
Turner said Friday’s scrimmage, which will be held at South Pittsburgh High School and begin at 5 p.m., will consist of a controlled series of drills. He said there will not be special teams play.
Inside drill, 1-on-1 matchups, and 10-play scripted series are expected to be the focus. Turner also hopes to emphasize goal-line work.
“We have to get our guys in the right spots,” said Turner. “I know some of them are sore and some of them are tired. We’ve put in a lot of work. This is the time where we determine how we’re going to approach the season and we’ll see what happens heading into the opener.”