Previously, in Polk County football. . .
You may remember the Wolverines and their season-opening 30-14 victory over Chase two weeks ago. Then came a rare Week 2 open date, which has almost made Friday’s home game with R-S Central feel like Return of the Season Opener.
The Wolverines are scheduled to host the Hilltoppers in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff in G.M. Tennant Stadium. Polk County will be honoring Polk County Youth Football players and cheerleaders during the evening as part of its Youth Football Night.
The early week off occurred when a planned opponent made a late scheduling switch, leaving Polk County unable to find a Week 2 opponent before having to finalize its schedule. The Wolverines will now be in action for at least the next 10 weeks, with no late-season off week as in years past.
“It’s very unusual. That’s an understatement,” said Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis. “You would like that open week farther down the schedule in order to have some heal-up time. Even this early, we had some bumps amd bruises that we were able to get the kids healed up from.
“It is great that school has started. All the coaches and the players can get into more of a day-to-day schedule. We don’t have to worry about kids finding a way to practice.”
The week off gave Ollis and staff an opportunity to review the Chase win in-depth and make adjustments based on that evaluation. Polk County gave up two long plays for touchdowns and held a 16-14 lead early in the fourth quarter before scoring twice in the fourth period on long runs by Elijah Sutton and Dillon Overholt to seal the victory. The Wolverines dominated the game defensively, but failed to score on three early drives inside the Chase 30.
“I say as a coach who has been in this game a long time that you never played as bad as you think nor as good as you think,” Ollis said. “We did a lot of things well. What jumps out at you is that we had the ball three times inside the 25-yard line and didn’t score. That has got to change and something we’ve worked on. We played pretty well defensively, but we didn’t tackle as well as we need to. We did find out some things about our conditioning that were good.
“Another thing that was very positive is that we were behind and came back. No one panicked. I saw no situation were players were dropping their chins. I think it was good for our football team to win that way.”
History indicates that Polk County likely won’t be in a runaway position on Friday; R-S Central has won four of the last five meetings in the series, including a 28-7 victory a season ago.
The Hilltoppers have a new head coach this season, Brad Hutchins, and have abandoned their traditional Wing-T offense for a spread formation. R-S opened its season with a win over McDowell before struggling last week in a 62-29 loss to Patton.
“They’ve got a very athletic quarterback in Jayden Waddell,” Ollis said. “He’s similar to the quarterback we saw against Chase in that he can hurt you with his feet and throws the ball well enough to keep things honest. They’ve got a talented receiver, Ty’J Cooks. He can really go up and catch the ball well. He’s got big-play potential.
“They run a spread attack and they like to run a tempo offense. Defensively, we’ll need to get our calls in and get our kids set. They would like to run a play every 15 to 18 seconds.”
While the weather forecast isn’t looking ideal for Friday night, Ollis hopes to a see a large crowd as Polk County football swings back into action.
“It’s been a pretty good rivalry game, a hotly contested game for a number of years,” he said. “We’re healthy, and we’re looking forward to it.”
R-S CENTRAL AT POLK COUNTY
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Records: R-S Central 1-1; Polk County 1-0.
Last Week: R-S Central dropped a 62-29 decision to Patton; Polk County had an open date.
Last Year: R-S Central scored a pair of late touchdowns in taking a 28-7 victory.
Series History: Polk County leads the series, 9-6.
Players To Watch: R-S quarterback Jayden Waddell leads the Hilltoppers in rushing (84 ypg) while hitting 18-of-33 passes for 267 yards in two games. . . Devin Littlejohn, at 60 ypg, is the other key rushing threat. . . Ty’J Cooks has grabbed seven passes for 105 yards and two scores. . . Senior linebacker Damarcus Johnson has 35 total tackles in two games, with three tackles for loss.