There is no such thing as a good loss in the book of football as read by Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis.
But last week’s 42-31 setback at Mountain Heritage comes as close to earning an entry as there is.
“We gained some positive outlook as a result of that game,” Ollis said. “We matched up with one of the best teams in Western North Carolina and we put ourselves in position to beat them.
“Given that, that has given us a certain amount of confidence, though we’ve got to find a way to turn these close losses into victories.”
The Wolverines will have their next shot at a win on Friday night, hosting Madison in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff in G.M. Tennant Stadium. It will be Senior Night for Polk County as the game marks the regular-season finale.
For Polk (6-4, 2-2), the game marks a chance to build some momentum heading into the postseason. The playoff picture remains murky, though some projections have the Wolverines on the road next week, possibly at North Rowan. Official pairings will be announced sometime Saturday.
The matchup will also offer another opportunity for Polk to run its revamped offense with Avery Edwards at quarterback, Dillon Overholt at wide receiver and a flexbone look for the unit.
“It gives us a chance offensively to continue to improve with another week of preparation,” Ollis said. “The kids are feeling confident with the offensive changes. We had pretty good success at Mountain Heritage, and they feel like they move it on anybody.
“We’ve got to find a way to get the ball in Elijah (Sutton)’s hands. Number 22 needs to touch the ball more. We established the fullback last week and that dictated some of what we did. But we need to get Elijah involved.”
One athlete who will be amply involved Friday night is Madison quarterback Clark Gray.
Gray thought his junior season had ended three weeks ago against Mitchell, when he suffered a concussion and learned he had a compression fracture in his vertebra. But doctors cleared Gray last week to return, and he led the Patriots (4-6, 2-2) to a win over Owen.
Gray has thrown for 1,167 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 1,325 yards and 15 touchdowns. His backfield mate, 6-2, 235-pound senior Ty Snelson, has rushed for 1,129 yards and 15 scores.
“Having their quarterback back makes them a better football team,” Ollis said. “He’s a good player. He’s great at making the engine run smoothly for them. They run some zone read for him, so we’re going to have to play assignment football.
“They also have the big running back (Snelson). He’s a downhill runner. He’s also quite a good player on defense. Both of them are, so we’ll have to account for them on both sides of the ball.”
Trying to keep its postseason hopes alive, Madison will offer a Senior Night challenge for the Wolverines.
“Madison is not a bad football team. We can’t just show up. We have to line up and execute,” Ollis said. “We’ve talked about how important it is to go out a winner on Senior Night. A win also gives us momentum going into the playoffs.
“Our other sports here have been doing well this fall, the cross country team, the tennis team and the volleyball team. That is some added impetus for us to play well and keep that going. There is a lot of school spirit right now.”