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It seems every time CJ Taylor runs the ball, he starts rewriting the Pioneer record book.
Taylor will never catch the insurmountable numbers Jeff Womack amassed during his run from 1979-81, but the senior QB could be a more-than-respectable runner-up by the end of the season. With his 309-yard, five-TD performance Friday (the most yards in a single game by a Pioneers in over two decades), Taylor now has 924 yards and 13 TDs this season. Following the outburst, he became just the seventh Pioneer to ever eclipse 2,000 yards in his career (2,156 yards and counting).
“We have faced some really good teams and several Division 1 players. He is easily the most dynamic/best player we have faced,” said Blackman coach Kit Hartsfield, who also referred to Taylor as the “Alpha Male” in Warren County’s 35-28 win Friday. “He is the total package: fast, wiggle, strength and toughness. He refused to lose.”
According to MaxPreps numbers, Taylor has eclipsed 100 yards in all five games this season, headlined by his monster night in Murfreesboro. Taylor also had 253 yards against DeKalb County in the opener, a performance which put him on the map with several college scouts.
Dating back to last year, Taylor has rushed for 100 or more yards in eight of his last nine games. Only Riverdale (seven carries for 22 yards) was able to contain Taylor – and the Warriors were aided by a monsoon last fall.
Taylor didn’t go into the Blackman game thinking he would put up a stat line reminiscent of Womack’s PlayStation-like numbers from four decades ago. He did run with a chip on his shoulder though, fueled by a perceived – or real – slight from the Blaze.
“It was special. I thought I’d have a big game, just not like that – not the way it happened,” said Taylor. “Blackman is a good team and they’ll be tough down the road. I don’t think they respected me, but I bet they do now.”
Every opponent should take notice. Giving Taylor extra incentive to run angry is a recipe for disaster. Taylor dismantled the Blaze after receiving a few messages on social media on gameday.
On the other hand, praising the Pioneer star – like Lawrence County coach David Marston did when he told anybody who would listen he wasn’t going to kick toward Taylor and maybe would use 13 players to stop him – didn’t do much good either.
“(He has) Outstanding speed and vision. When he sees an opening and accelerates, it looks like he’s riding a motorcycle,” said Marston, whose team did its best to hold Taylor in check (17 carries, 108 yards, 2 TDs) in a 40-3 loss. “We were not going to punt or kick to him because he is so good in space. He is a special player and his team is solid – very physical with good lines and good skill players.”
Taylor is now just 76 yards away from the first 1,000-yard rushing season since Caleb Northcutt rushed for 1,244 yards in 2010. Northcutt’s total a decade ago was the eighth-best mark in a single season, sitting behind Womack’s three seasons, two big years from Curtis Lusk (1,351 and 1,356 yards - 1974-75), Randy Nowlin (1,359 yards - 1984) and Jerry Lusk (1,360 yards - 1973).
Womack has the single-season high with 2,550 yards in 1980, followed by 1,969 and 1,931 yards in 1979 and 1981, respectively.
Taylor enters the second half of the season just 436 yards behind Jerry Lusk’s fourth-place mark. He already passed his yardage (898 yards) compiled in last year’s 10-game campaign.
He also has an outside chance of moving into second place all-time in career yards, sitting 873 yards behind Northcutt’s standout career (3,029 yards – ‘07-10). Northcutt and Womack (6,450 yards) are the only two Pioneers to have more than 3,000 yards.
Taylor has already passed Northcutt in touchdowns, pushing his total to 31 with his five trips to paydirt against Blackman. He’s in sole possession of second place, yet still 34 TDs behind Womack (65 career scores).
While the individual accolades are great, Taylor is only focused on the number ‘One’ - He wants to get his team one win every Friday.
“We do this all as a team. I couldn’t do this without my guys and my line,” said Taylor.
Army became the latest team to extend the Pioneer QB a college offer Saturday, and perhaps the first which could see Taylor playing offense at the next level. Mississippi State, Austin Peay, Tennessee Tech and Eastern Kentucky have also offered, though with the thoughts of Taylor playing on defense.
Right now, Taylor is solely focused on his mission with the Pioneers, who will be back in Murfreesboro this Friday to face Siegel. With one more win, Warren County would clinch its first winning season in 30 years – a goal Taylor and his teammates put forth before the year began.
Until Taylor is done putting on a Pioneer uniform, his college position – and his position in the record books – can wait. As his coach Matt Turner is fond of saying, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
As long as it involves running, Taylor is ready to roll.
Career rushing yards
Jeff Womack (1979-81) - 6,450 yards
Caleb Northcutt (2007-10) 3,029 yards
Jerry Lusk (1971-73) 2,916 yards
Curtis Lusk (1974-75) 2,707 yards
Randy Nowlin (1983-84) 2,252 yards
CJ Taylor (2017 - pres) 2,156 yards
Cameron Lusk (2010-13) 2,068 yards
Keith Martin (1987-88) 1,992 yards
Isaiah Grayson (2014-17) 1,448 yards
Josh Paz (2003-05) 1,439 yards
Career rushing TDs
Jeff Womack (79-81) 65 touchdowns
CJ Taylor (17-pres) 31 touchdowns
Caleb Northcutt (07-10) 29 touchdowns
Curtis Lusk (74-75) 27 touchdowns
Keith Martin/Isaiah Grayson 23 touchdowns
Single season rushing yards
Jeff Womack (1980) - 2,550 yards
Jeff Womack (1979) - 1,969 yards
Jeff Womack (1981) - 1,931 yards
Jerry Lusk (1973) - 1,360 yards
Randy Nowlin (1984) 1,359 yards
Curtis Lusk (1975) 1,356 yards
Curtis Lusk (1974) 1,351 yards
Caleb Northcutt (2010) 1,244 yards
Jerry Lusk (1972) 1,187 yards
Keith Martin (1988) 1,158 yards
CJ Taylor (5 games) 924 yards
Single season touchdowns
Jeff Womack (1980) 34 TDs
Curtis Lusk (1975) 16 TDs
Jeff Womack (1979) 16 TDs
Harold Lusk (1969) 16 TDs
CJ Taylor (2019) 15 TDs
Jeff Womack (1981) 15 TDs
Glen Powers (1973) 15 TDs
CJ Taylor (5 games) 13 TDs