A year ago, memories were made in Murfreesboro that will last Squad 52 a lifetime. The Pioneers swept through Rutherford County, topping Rockvale, Blackman and Siegel in the span of four weeks. They were all memorable for different reasons.
When the Pioneers beat Rockvale, it was the first win for the program in Rutherford County since beating LaVergne in 1997. Topping Blackman a week later, running the team’s record to 5-0, put Warren County on the map among state pundits. Finally, the Siegel victory meant the 30-year streak of losing seasons was over.
The winning streak in the ‘Boro didn’t make it to four games. Modifying a toast I’ve made on many weekend nights in my life – Sometimes we play to remember and sometimes we play to forget. Friday’s 42-12 loss against Siegel falls in the forget category.
Something just felt funny about the whole game. Maybe it was the injuries, both to those who were held out and others who went down in the game, that threw everything off kilter. The two failed tries at punting – setting Siegel up deep in Pioneer territory – didn’t help things in the opening minutes.
Still, coach Matt Turner had one quote that stood out in the postgame interview. He turned around, looked to the other end of the field where Siegel was celebrating and said, “They are not 30 points better than us.”
I don’t know if the Pioneers, with Dayton Jernigan out from kickoff and Jaythan Pleasant going down in the first half, had the horses to beat Siegel, but they had enough to stay in the game. It bothered me the whole night, so much so that I immediately rewatched the game when it was posted at 1 a.m.
Thirty minutes later, I was texting coach Turner and sharing my disbelief – as if he needed my input. In true Turner fashion, he had the perfect response.
“Burn the ship and move on to Coffee County.”
His quotes are always spot on. Last weekend, I found another football coach that has great one-liners. I finally decided to cash in a free month of Apple TV and watch Ted Lasso. It’s so, so good. I recommend it to everybody.
We’re going to cheat a little this week. I’ve been using football movies for the ‘Good, Better, Best’ this year, but I’m going to go with TV show about European football this week. Here we go:
SPOILER ALERT - If you haven't seen Ted Lasso and plan to watch it, don't click the videos. There are some plot points you may pick up on that ruin surprises.
“There’s two buttons I never like to hit: that’s panic and snooze.”
Good – Coach Turner was clearly frustrated following Friday’s game. I wouldn’t say he has a great poker face when he’s upset – it’s pretty evident. I felt like it was only appropriate to give the coaching staff its space after the game to address the team, but even standing 40 yards off, it was obvious Turner was delivering a message that Friday’s effort wasn’t good enough.
By 2 a.m. Friday, he was burning the ship and focusing on Coffee County. There was no reason to linger on the loss because there was a region game lurking. Well before I was up Saturday morning, Turner was already reviewing game film and building his attack for the Red Raiders.
Like coach Lasso, Turner is not panicking and he’s up at sunrise getting ready. The Pioneers will be prepared to play in Manchester this Friday.
“He’s here. He’s there. He’s every (freaking) where!”
Better – For those who don’t like what broadcasters on Ted Lasso call, “fruity language,” maybe skip looking up the Roy Kent chant on YouTube. I had to modify it a little bit, but it definitely applies for one Pioneer right now.
Braylon Grayson is everywhere for the Pioneers on Friday nights. He is the team's leading rusher and receiver, averaging over 140 yards from scrimmage with two long TD catches this season. Grayson also had double-digit tackles in the first two Pioneer games and something tells me he made it 3-for-3 against a Siegel team that ran between the tackles all night (The team posts its own defensive stats on Sundays).
Grayson has all the makings of the next great Pioneer and could graduate as one of the most decorated players in program history. He’s just a junior and has already been all-region once. More importantly, if Warren County bounces back quickly, Grayson and the Class of 2023 could graduate with a winning record – something that hasn’t been done in over 40 years.
I’m not saying the student section needs any help being creative (they definitely do), but if they wanted a decent chant – use a PG version of the one on Ted Lasso for Grayson soon.
"He’s here, he’s there, he’s every freaking where. BRAY – LON, GRAY – SON!"
“You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It’s a goldfish. Know why? It’s got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish!”
Best – This is Lasso’s version of burn the ships. Warren County can worry about getting back at Siegel next fall when the Stars come to Nunley Stadium. Right now, it’s best for everybody to look forward at another pivotal Region 3-6A game.
Coffee County is going to be riding high after throttling Spring Hill 49-7 Friday night. The Red Raiders, like the Stars, will also have revenge on their minds after losing the last two matchups in this border battle. And, if my sources are correct, it’s going to be another homecoming game the Pioneers will have a chance to spoil.
Region wins are the only thing that really matter this year (and every year). If the Pioneers want to make a return trip to the playoffs, winning Friday would punch that ticket. It would also keep the possibility of a home playoff game alive.
Whether it is burning the ships or being goldfish, the Pioneers just need to forget everything from Siegel and focus on Coffee County. If Warren County can rediscover its grit and fire, the group can leave the Red Raiders black and blue next week.