Murphy’s Law is in full effect for the WCMS Pioneers. If anything can go wrong, it probably will. Weather, injuries and the Tullahoma Wildcats wreaked havoc on the Pioneers, leading to a 36-0 loss Thursday night.
Warren County (0-4) was originally scheduled to play Tuesday, but severe lightning forced a scramble for a make-up date. Thursday afternoon was the only time the teams could meet, but it led to a matchup in a sweltering heat wave.
Already playing without several starters, the Pioneers lost multiple players during the game, including two quarterbacks, before the final whistle blew.
“I’ve never seen a team put in a position like this, but they didn’t quit,” said coach Ben Matheney. “I couldn’t be more proud of the boys than I was. They’re buying in and I can’t ask any more of them. It was just a really tough situation.”
The Pioneers lost starting quarterback Gavin Blocker midway through the game to illness. Back-up quarterback Jesse Dodson stepped in, but was driven to the ground hard on a carry not long after entering the game in the third quarter. Dodson laid on the field for several minutes before having to be taken from the field by ambulance.
Dodson was cleared of any serious back or neck injuries and was released from the hospital shortly after the game concluded.
The Pioneers had to turn to PJ Truax at quarterback, a player who only joined the team three weeks ago.
“Whenever Jesse went down, I was with him and the coaching staff had PJ taking snaps. We had six quarterbacks take reps in practice this fall, but by the time Jesse went down, we were without all of them,” said Matheney. “We were basically having to call run left or run right. PJ did a great job for us.”
Truax had the biggest play for the Pioneers on the first play of the fourth quarter. Truax took the snap and immediately took off behind his center. He broke into the open field and showed his speed on a 55-yard run down the sideline.
Creed Adams also had a big run in the first quarter, breaking out for 20 yards. Lucas Bouldin added a fumble recovery on defense.
Tullahoma led 15-0 at halftime and scored three more times after the break, including a touchdown in the final minute.
The Pioneers will now deal with a short week of preparation for Coffee County, Tuesday’s opponent.
“We know Coffee County will have some good athletes. We’re going to go out and fight to the last whistle. I know our kids will step up and give it a go,” said Matheney.
Kickoff in Manchester is set for 6:30 p.m.