Excitement was in the air Friday night at Nunley Stadium as the WCHS football team went up against the White County Warriors in the Pioneers final tune-up before the season opener this Friday night against the DeKalb County Tigers in Smithville.
Talking about the matchup against the Tigers this week, Pioneer head coach Tom Moore had this to say.
“I have watched some film on DeKalb. They scored seven or eight touchdowns against one of the teams they scrimmaged. They will run straight up and down the field and their quarterback will probably be the best we will face all season. We just have to play well on both sides of the ball.”
In game one Friday, the Pioneer JV team shut out the Warriors, 14-0, looking solid on both sides of the ball in the double-digit victory.
The varsity team was up next to play and it carried over the momentum from the 27-21 victory in the scrimmage against Tullahoma two weeks ago in a big way. The Pioneer varsity team beat White County 21-6 in one half of football.
After a quick three-and-out by the Warriors to begin their opening drive, the Pioneers had the ball on the Warriors 30-yard line to begin the drive after a muffed punt.
Brandon Valazquez caught a pass by Isaiah Grayson, to bring the ball down to the two-yard line and Noah Campbell finished the drive off with a run up the middle to give the Pioneers the early advantage, 7-0.
The Warriors had the ball at their own 20-yard line to begin their second series but the drive was short-lived as the Pioneers forced a fumble and recovered inside their own red zone.
The Pioneers had momentum during the drive but a miscue on the snap just outside the 10-yard line, that was fumbled and recovered by the Warriors, ended the Pioneers promising second series.
The Warriors wasted no time two plays later as they struck on a 52-yard touchdown pass, beating the secondary but they continued to trail as the extra point was blocked by Jacob Rabideau, 7-6.
After the Warriors went three-and-out again on their next drive, the Pioneer offense found its footing again.
A 37-yard run by Raleigh Woods put the Pioneers in business just past the 50-yard line. A few plays later, Grayson connected with Mitchell Stembridge on a 22-yard pass to give the Pioneers the eight point advantage, 14-6.
The Warriors connected on a vertical route but were stripped by a defensive tackle as they were about to cross the goal line and the fumble was picked up by linebacker Brendan Breedlove to preserve the Pioneer lead.
Talking about that play, Moore, had this to say.
“It was just pure hustle. I don’t think any time last year we hustled as hard as we did on that play and it’s because the whole team believes in each other.”
After stalled drives by both teams, the Pioneers were back on offense and on their own 43-yard line, when Grayson threw a ball into coverage and McCall Turner plucked the ball out of the air and stiffed armed a couple of defenders on his way to score, giving the Pioneers the double-digit lead, 21-6.
The Pioneers fumbled on their own side of the field and then again with seconds remaining inside the Warrior 20-yard line, but the Warriors didn’t answer, giving the Pioneers the victory in the final scrimmage of the preseason.
Moore had this to say about the team’s miscues and what they will need to do to fix that heading into this week’s season opener.
“We did make some mistakes but that’s what scrimmages are for. We really didn’t know what this team was going to run as far as preparation, so it’s hard to have everything right.”
Moore added, “Some of the miscues were caused by bad snaps and bad decision making but we just have to keep working on those things some more.”
Moore concluded, “It would’ve been nice to score two or three more times but I think we threw the ball well and that was key for us tonight.”
The Pioneers will look to clean up those miscues with a battle against the Tigers just five days away.