Three games into his first season as Polk County Middle School’s football coach, Ethan Edwards isn’t certain who has learned more to date – his players or himself.
One thing Edwards is certain of – the Wolverines are never dull.
“Middle schoolers always find a way to surprise, whether it is by going above and beyond what you thought their potential was to be or by random lapses of judgment,” Edwards said. “My team is very competitive and share my desire to win and hate to fail. They have surprised me in the way they care about one another, and hold each other accountable. At times, they seem very mature for their ages.”
That maturity will be tested again Thursday as Polk County Middle hosts Apple Valley in a Blue Ridge Middle School Conference game kicking off at 5 p.m. The Wolverines, 2-1, will enter the game minus the services of Bryson Seay, who had been a key presence on both offense and defense for the squad. Seay, who had rushed for 374 yards and scored seven touchdowns in three games, is out for the remainder of the season with a broken foot.
“We will still look the same as far as scheme goes, but will definitely miss his presence on the field and may start depending on other players to pick up the slack,” Edwards said. “We will depend more on our quarterback and running back without him on offense.”
The Apple Valley game will mark the halfway point of the season for the Wolverines and for Edwards, who took over the middle school program after coaching the Polk County junior varsity squad last season. As with any coach, Edwards loves nothing more than seeing his team notch a victory each week, but he also knows there are other things of importance for the program.
“It has been an interesting transition for me coming from high school,” Edwards said. “I feel like we are getting the kids on the ground floor, so to speak. Either they have never played and know nothing about football or they have played recreation and have some of the fundamentals down already.
“With that being said we are here to prepare the students for high school football, so we are doing our best to train them physically and mentally toward what the high school expects. Hopefully, when our guys get to the high school, they will have a good understanding of what the high school scheme is and will save some headaches and growing pains down the road.”
A tough final stretch of the season awaits Polk Middle, with future opponents Rugby and Hendersonville currently undefeated, the Bearcats the defending conference champions. But Edwards is optimistic about both the rest of 2015 and beyond.
“As we continue I would love to focus on building the confidence for some of my seventh graders, who look very promising for the future,” Edwards said. “We are going to continue working hard to develop fundamental skills and do all we can to prepare these kids for the next level in the program.”