Warren County Middle School football players were going at it in full-contact, 1-on-1 tackling drills Monday at practice.
It promises to be a more physical Pioneer squad when the season begins with a rare Saturday game Aug. 14 in Jasper.
“We picked up the intensity Monday and had a lot of live action and I think the kids responded well,” said WCMS coach Ben Matheney. “Our numbers are much better this year. We have a lot of players at every position.”
WCMS is coming off a jamboree Saturday where the Pioneers faced Macon County, Shafer Middle School from Gallatin, and Sequatchie County. Coach Matheney said the jamboree scrimmages were a good starting point and an effective way to see areas which need to be improved.
“Most of our wounds were self-inflicted,” said Matheney. “Our offense is so reliant on timing, it takes a little while to get everything worked out. Defensively, we were there and in position to make tackles. Sometimes it was a case where we didn’t finish the play.”
Matheney said he’s pleased with the game-breaking speed of RB Isaiah Robledo, who had two long TD runs in Saturday’s jamboree. Robledo is expected to be a prime-time player this season.
In the trenches, Matheney said Xavier Simmons was stout on the offensive line and he made several tackles for a loss when he lined up on defense.
“They are two players we expect to stand out and be good for us,” Matheney said.
WCMS is operating the same type of pistol-wing offense that’s run by the high school team. This will allow players to learn the system early and execute it with greater familiarity.
Matheney said coaches are also working to install a read-option aspect to the offense. This requires the quarterback to read how a defensive player is moving and to react accordingly.
“It requires some split-second decision making,” said Matheney, “and it requires the defense to play very disciplined football.”
WCMS will be facing Tullahoma in a scrimmage this coming Tuesday. The varsity team will play the first half and the JV team will play the second half.
Matheney said he is excited to travel to Jasper for the season-opener because that will give the Pioneers a game before their conference schedule begins with road games against Franklin North and Franklin South.
The home opener for WCMS will be against Shelbyville Harris.