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Wolverines explode early, romp past Avery for seventh straight win

It took less than a minute Friday night for Polk County to send a loud and clear signal that the Wolverines wouldn’t be caught looking ahead to a bye week and then Owen.

Polk County scored on its second offensive play, built a 30-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 37-14 win over Avery, the Wolverines earning their seventh straight win before a large Homecoming crowd at Wolverine Stadium.

Next up for Polk is a well-deserved bye week, the Wolverines (7-2, 4-0) getting a break before their Western Highlands Conference showdown with Owen, currently undefeated, in two weeks at Polk County.

“As banged up as we are right now, I want to see a bye week,” said Polk County head coach Jamie Thompson. “I’ve been looking forward to this bye week for about two weeks.”

The Wolverines made certain early that Avery (3-5, 0-3) wouldn’t spoil the off week.

Taking possession after the opening kickoff at the 37, Polk covered the 63 yards to the end zone in two plays – Jordan Smith’s 29-yard dash over the right side and then Jamal Wheeler’s 34-yard sprint to the end zone over the left side. A 2-point conversion attempt failed, but the Wolverines still held a 6-0 lead just 32 seconds into the game.

Polk forced Avery to punt on its first drive, and the Wolverines took over at their 24. Polk County put together a nine-play drive to cover those 76 yards, keyed by a 34-yard Wheeler run on 3rd-and-5 at the 39, to set up Storm Wheeler’s 5-yard touchdown run. Davis Derkach’s extra point made it 13-0 with 5:31 left in the first quarter.

The Wolverine defense, which held Avery to just 123 total yards and -16 yards rushing, forced a fumble on the Vikings’ next possession, giving Polk the ball at the Avery 39. A halfback pass from Smith to Bryce Martin moved Polk to the 9 before the drive stalled, leading to a Derkach 27-yard field goal that gave Polk a 16-0 lead with 2:15 remaining in the first period.

Another Avery punt to open the second period left Polk with the ball at the Viking 48. An eight-play drive highlighted by three Jamal Wheeler runs led a 2-yard touchdown pass from Wheeler to Smith to cap the drive and give Polk County a 23-0 lead with 7:36 left in the half. Four drives, four scores.

Polk County capped its first-half outburst with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Wheeler to Smith with 16 seconds left in the half. Derkach’s extra point made it 30-0 at intermission.

“We played well in the first half on both sides of the ball,” Thompson said. “I think they only ran 17 plays on offense. We were moving the ball pretty well and had some big, explosive plays. We looked pretty good in the first half.

“We saw some things they were doing defensively that we could hurt them with. Jamal made some great reads in the first half and we had some big plays. We were like a fine-tuned machine in the first half.”

Following an extended halftime in which senior Sarah Phipps was named homecoming queen, with Kara Overholt named maid of honor and Georgia Garrett crowned Ms. Wolverine, the Wolverines got their final points with their sixth defensive score of the season. Dillion Overholt intercepted an Avery pass in the middle of the field, weaved his way past a couple of would-be tacklers and raced 65 yards to the end zone. Derkach again converted the extra point to make it 37-0 with 8:25 still left in the third quarter.

That would be all the scoring for the Wolverines, with Avery putting together a pair of scoring drives to account for the final margin.

“We came out in the second half and felt like we were going to go ahead and lay it to them, but we started making a few mistakes here and there,” Thompson said. “The kids kind of lost their focus a little bit. But it’s something for us to build on and we’ll correct those mistakes.

“Sometimes, when you get up like that, the players kind of relax a little bit, and I think that’s probably what happened to us.”

Jamal Wheeler rushed for 123 yards on 15 carries to lead a Wolverine rushing attack that produced 301 yards. Smith had 94 yards on 12 carries and Storm Wheeler added 58 yards on 13 attempts.

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