Wolverines back at home, where TV audience, Mountaineers will await

WMYA's production truck parked behind the G.M. Tennant Stadium press box prior to the 2015 telecast.

Bruce Ollis hopes a large crowd will pack the home stands in G.M. Tennant Stadium on Thursday night, both to showcase Polk County for a regional television audience and to provide backing for the Wolverines in a vitally important conference clash.

With 7-1 Mitchell coming to town to face the 6-2 Wolverines, the entertainment value for those in the stands and watching the broadcast is likely to be high.

“It’s exciting,” Ollis said. “I think it’s great for our fans and the community to showcase the school that we are awfully proud of.

“I think it’s going to be a highly competitive game.”

The Western Highlands Conference battle will kick off Thursday at 7 p.m. and will be shown on WMYA-TV. It marks the third straight season that Mitchell and Polk County have met on the station’s Thursday Night Lights series.

School officials have been hard at work for days preparing Tennant Stadium and the Polk County High campus for the arrival of WMYA’s crew.

“We definitely want to invite all of Wolverine Nation to come out and join us at the game,” said Polk County High School Principal Dr. Brandon Schweitzer, who was the school’s athletic director when the schools met for their first televised encounter. “Having television crews on site provides a unique live atmosphere you don’t often get at the high school level.

“Also, I want to say thank you to the athletics department for preparing for this game. I know from experience that it is a tremendous undertaking.”

The game also marks the first time since Sept. 15 that Polk County has played at home, and being back in the friendly confines of Tennant Stadium and W.J. Miller Field after a four-game road trip means almost as much to the Wolverines as the opportunity to again play on TV.

“We can finally unpack the suitcases,” Ollis said. “For the first time in five weeks we get to set foot on our home turf.

“The players are looking forward to it. Not having to get on a bus and drive an hour and 45 minutes somewhere sounds awfully nice. We’re undefeated at home this year, so that’s something to hang our hat on.”

Mountain Heritage and Polk County are currently the only undefeated teams in the WHC, with Mitchell a game back after a 30-20 loss to Mountain Heritage two weeks ago. A Polk County win would guarantee the Wolverines the league’s top 1A seed for the upcoming state playoffs and keep Polk County’s conference title hopes alive.

It would also mark Polk County’s first win over Mitchell since 2014. The Mountaineers are 34-5 since the start of the 2015 season.

“They have a quality football program,” Ollis said of Mitchell. “They’re certainly the best team we’ve played since Pisgah and East Rutherford.”