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'Good, Better, Best' from Cookeville

From the outside looking in, all you see on the stat sheet for the Pioneer football team is one win and four losses but the story is much different. Only one game, last week at Mt. Juliet, has been out of reach for the Pioneers. In all the other losses, if a couple plays go a different way, the Pioneers could be 4-1 instead.

Warren County started with tough one point losses to DeKalb and Sparta and now have one touchdown loss to region foe, Cookeville where the team had the ball right outside the redzone with five minutes to play in hopes to tie or take the lead.

It's tough to be that close and fall three times, but the good news is we have the ability and capability to win. We just need to put all of the puzzle pieces together. Let's get to the 'Good, Better, Best' brought to you by Douglas and Lanier Agency.

Good- A good look coming out of halftime

When your team is down 14 points going into the half, you have to make sure you limit the damage and get some points on the board to start the second half. Luckily for the Pioneers, they did just that.

As most know, senior Nate Elrod has been the starting quarterback for every game last year and this season for the Pioneers, but in the past two games coach Matt Turner is just trying to see what is going to work. In the second quarter against Cookeville, coach Turner moved Elrod to wide receiver and Alex van Vuuren to quarterback looking for a spark.

We haven’t seen much of van Vuuren at quarterback other than in the pre-season, but he was able to get the Pioneers kick started last night in the second half. The first play of the second half was a huge 54 yard run, only made possible by some great blocks. The second play was a 25 yard run by van Vuuren that looked like it may have been a touchdown but was stopped just short. The final play of the drive was a one yard QB keeper as van Vuuren walked into the endzone. This started the comeback the Pioneers needed to compete against Cookeville.

"It was a tale of two halves. They responded well and we won the second half, but we just didn't perform in the first half and dug ourselves a hole we couldn't get out of," said Turner about the second half performance.

Alex van Vuuren gets the first touchdown of the night (Painted Barn Media)

Better- 14 point comeback

The Pioneers came out of the half on Friday night down 14-0. We weren’t sure how the Pioneers were going to respond, as they had opportunities to score earlier in the game and weren’t able to make it happen.

Noted above, the Pioneers started off on fire in the first drive of the second half. It took Alex van Vuuren three plays and 80 yards to get the Pioneers on the board for the first time.

That momentum carried into the first defensive drive as Braylon Grayson forced a fumble recovered by PJ Truax. Down just a touchdown and with all the momentum, Warren County started to seize control.

The Pioneers decided to continue to run it down Cookeville's throat. Runs by Grayson, van Vuuren, Dawson Hale and Jaythan Pleasant pushed the ball all the way to the Cavalier 1 yard line. When the team went under center, coach Turner put in Elrod to take the snap and he easily pushed in for another Pioneer touchdown!

When it was 14-14, it felt like the Pioneers would have enough momentum to get them a win. Unfortunately, Cookeville was able to score on their next drive and the Pioneers weren’t able to get the ball in the end zone again.

Braylon Grayson was a man on a mission Friday (Painted Barn Media)

Best- Home sweet home

It was so good to be back at Nunley on Friday night. For the first time in three years, football games seem “normal," and the fans were eager to get the home games started. I talked to several people who had not been able to get to the away games so they were thankful for the three game home stand.

The student section was louder than I have heard in a LONG time. The band was rocking, along with the Pioneerettes and football cheerleaders. You can’t tell me that doesn’t help the football team.

When we were down 14-0 and the Pioneers found momentum in the second half, everyone got loud and proud and I know that's a big hype factor for Squad 54. The team will need that same kind of spirit next week when they are back at home for a matchup against Siegel at 7 p.m.

The WCHS student section celebrates a touchdown. (Painted Barn Media)

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