Tennessee High School Football – Mount Juliet gets by Warren County
November 6, 2020: Mt. Juliet, TN 37122
The Mount Juliet Golden Bears football squad scored 17 points and restricted the visiting Warren County Pioneers to 13 in the Golden Bears non-league victory on Friday.
The Golden Bears now possess a 7-3 record. They put it on the line next when they travel to Oakland for a non-league battle on Friday, November 13. Mount Juliet will play a Patriots squad coming off a 49-0 non-league win over Rossview (Clarksville, TN). The Patriots record now stands at 12-0.
Below write up came from Warren County Sports Authority…
The best Warren County football season in 40 years has come to an end.
The Pioneers fell to Mt. Juliet 17-13 Friday night, with Amarion Workings’ 1-yard TD run with :17 seconds left proving to be the difference.
“There is no reason to shed any tears, other than it sucks that it finally had to come to an end. But all good things have to come to an end,” said coach Matt Turner following his team’s loss in the first round of the playoffs. “When one door closes, another door opens. They guys are going to be successful in life.
“I told the senior class after the game, ‘This loss – how it ended – wasn’t their fault. It’s my fault.’ Because it is – this is my first time getting here and the first time for this staff. I’m still not the coach I’m going to be.”
Warren County (8-3) trailed 10-0 midway through the third quarter, but the Pioneers refused to quit. CJ Taylor scored a pair of second-half touchdowns, breaking a 13-yard run with 1:32 to go in the third quarter and sprinting 74 yards in the fourth quarter to put the Pioneers ahead 13-10 with 4:25 left.
It was the second to last touch of Taylor’s career as a Pioneer. He went out in spectacular fashion, rushing for 196 yards in his final game. Fittingly, Taylor’s final performance left him with 3,000 career rushing yards, making him just the third Pioneer to ever reach the 3,000-yard mark.
He was also among the team leaders in tackles.
Mt. Juliet (7-3) was able to go 60 yards in the final four minutes, ultimately pushing it in from one-yard away after the Pioneers stood up the Golden Bears from the Warren County 1 once.
After a short kickoff, the Pioneers had one last chance to try to make magic. Warren County sent in DeVans Lewis to throw deep, but Taylor was surrounded by six Bears at the Mt. Juliet 20 and was unable to bring in the last ball.
It was a crushing way for such a story book season to end, but coach Turner was optimistic he had taught his team something over the course of the last two years.
“When I took this job, I wanted to teach these young men how to love. I know that’s not big, burly man language, but I want to teach them how to love themselves, love their teammates, love their wives, love their significant others and love their families. I wanted them to play for each other,” said Turner. “I think we’ve done that. I can’t wait to see these young men grow and be successful. I think they will be just as successful in life as they were on the football field.”
Mt. Juliet took a 3-0 lead into halftime, getting an early 23-yard field goal following a Pioneer fumble in their own territory. Warren County had a chance to take the lead before halftime, but Ryland Holder was stripped late on a 70-yard run at the Mt. Juliet 12.
The Golden Bears marched 63 yards out of the locker rooms, getting a short TD pass from Stephen Swoner to Osize Daniyan to cap a 13-play, 7-minute drive. Mt. Juliet kept the drive alive with a 15-yard completion on a fake punt early in the series.
The Pioneers responded forcefully, mounting their first TD drive. Taylor did the heavy lifting, breaking a 33-yard run after Kason Holder had turned the corner for 11 yards the play before. Taylor converted a third-and-four on the possession with a 13-yard run, then split through the Golden Bear defense from 13 yards out to make it 10-7 late in the third.
Mt. Juliet responded with a time-consuming drive that took out most of the fourth quarter, but the Pioneers wouldn’t be fooled again on another trick play on special teams. At the Pioneer 11 and facing fourth-and-long, the Golden Bears lined up for a field goal, but tried a fake as the holder threw a pass to the kicker sprinting out of the backfield.
Dante Elam stayed at home, waiting patiently and dropping the kicker after just a two-yard gain.
It only took the Pioneers two plays to go 91 yards. Taylor chewed up 22 yards on the first play, then went 74 yards for a score after a false start penalty on Warren County.
Mt. Juliet got the ball last though and made it count, sending the Pioneers home before they could force a rematch with Oakland (a 49-0 winner over Rossview Friday) in the quarterfinals.
Ryland Holder finished with 107 yards on the ground, giving him his first 100-yard game in his final career contest. Holder was one of 23 Pioneers who played their final game.
“These kids are Warren County kids. These kids are from Viola, Rock Island, Midway, Bone Cave, Morrison, Dibrell – they’re all home grown. And that’s why we have something special in Warren County. We can build this and continue to develop special classes like this,” said Turner. “There was something in the water 18 years ago and we’ve seen it across the board. This group has etched its name in history – we’ll be celebrating this group 40 years from now.”
Emotional end to a brilliant run
With Pioneers scattered on the field, almost all crying and in shock, it was hard to be a bystander when the final whistle blew. It was gut-wrenching to watch the coaching staff go from player to player, picking them up and hugging them tight as they knew it was over.
It was never going to be easy to say bye to these Pioneers, but Friday felt so abrupt. It felt like we needed more time with this Warren County squad. They were so memorable, so special and had so much fight in them. Even as the last few seconds ticked away, it almost felt like they would conjure up some more magic and keep it going.
It’s impossible to explain how much heart this team has. Whether it was Clay Thompson playing through a broken thumb and wrestling Golden Bears to the ground, or the offensive line going both ways in a brutally tough game or CJ Taylor simply willing himself into the endzone twice in the second half, there was just no way these Pioneers wouldn’t go down fighting.
I’ll never be able to erase the sights of kids sitting on the ground crying and coming to the realization it was over Friday night. And frankly, I hope I don’t.
Just 2-3 years ago, I thought Warren County’s football program may fold. It was down to just 20-25 players and each week was a new massacre, often at the hands of a Murfreesboro school.
Matt Turner took over and took many of those same kids – his ‘Dirty 30’ – and started pounding away. He spread love through his program and got it back. Those tears Friday night were because the Pioneers truly love football, love each other and love their coach.
Taylor going out the only way he knows how
CJ Taylor has had an unforgettable career. He added a truly unforgettable run as his last rush – the last time he moved across the line of scrimmage with the ball as a Pioneer.
After Warren County came up with a stop late and got the ball back, there was no secret what was about to happen. CJ was going to take over and nobody was going to stop him. He masterfully read the defense, flashed a devastating first step toward the line and took off for open grass.
Hundreds of defenders have tried to stop Taylor this fall, but none have been successful when he ascended to the level he was in during the fourth quarter Friday. You see it in his eyes – he knows he’s going to score and it’s like he has an invisible path leading him straight to the endzone.
Once he was in the open field, it was over. Some next level scouts may question his speed, but nobody chases down Taylor when he finds his highest gear.
I’m really going to miss this senior class – and I’ll definitely miss catching a glimpse of CJ’s eyes as he sizes up a defense and knows he’s about to score.
Big men fight for every inch
Warren County finished with 328 yards Friday against one of the best defenses in the Midstate. Every single yard came on the ground, leaving the Pioneers nine yards short of 3,000 rushing yards this season.
As much as it was a joy to watch the ‘Syrup Squad’ maul another front, I was even more impressed with the final two defensive plays. With 1 yard standing between the Golden Bears and a victory, they decided they would pound straight at the Pioneers the first time.
Warren County’s front line completely blew Mt. Juliet back off the ball. The Golden Bear QB trying a sneak was tossed backwards, only getting back to the line of scrimmage due to forward progress.
Mt. Juliet was able to score on the next play, but it wasn’t because of a surge up the middle. The Pioneers again pushed the Golden Bears back, but they were able to get around the edge on a quick hitter to get the game-winning TD.
There is no way to accurately measure the exhaustion levels of those defensive linemen in the moment. Kaden Jordan, Douglas Wells, Aiden Cummings, Brian McAnulty, Braden Bottoms, Dayton Jernigan and Dean Galloway were putting their bodies on the line every snap, engaging in hand-to-hand combat in the trenches with hopes of fighting at least one more day.
My hat is off to the ‘Syrup Squad’ – the Pancake Pack – The Hogs. It takes a special person to be that selfless and pave the way for other people to experience the glory.