Wolverines look to both rewrite, repeat history at Mount Airy

Led by junior Elijah Sutton (22), Polk County players and head coach Bruce Ollis pause briefly to give thanks in the wake of last week's 30-22 win over North Rowan.
Eerie.
That’s how one coach involved in Polk County’s 1AA state football playoff game on Friday at Mount Airy described the confluence of historical data swirling around the matchup between the Wolverines and Granite Bears.
Polk County will travel Friday to face undefeated Mount Airy in a second-round matchup. The Granite Bears (11-0) enter as the top seed in the 1AA West bracket and coming off a bye while the Wolverines (8-4) opened their playoff quest last week with a 30-22 win over North Rowan.
Friday’s game will be 11 years to the day since the only previous matchup between the two schools. In that game, an 8-4 Mount Airy team came to Polk County to face an 11-1 Wolverine team seeded second in the 1AA West bracket. The Wolverines were led by Austin Ollis, son of head coach Bruce Ollis, at quarterback and had outscored opponents 430-98 entering the game with an offense that included 6-3 wide receiver Derrick Overholt.
For the 2017 clash, Mount Airy comes in led by quarterback Ian Holder, son of head coach Kelly Holder. The Bears have outscored teams 507-99 with an offense that features 6-2 wide receiver Donovan Greene.
Mount Airy engineered a 15-8 upset in 2006. Polk County would love to return the favor.
“Mount Airy will be the most talented team we’ve seen,” said Ollis. “They’ve got a coach’s son at quarterback, and he does an incredible job operating there. The running back is tremendous. The wideout is tremendous. It’s a three-headed monster.”
As a quarterback, Ian Holder has thrown for 1,526 yards and 18 touchdowns while rushing for 744 yards and nine scores. The running back, 5-8 sophomore Johnathon Smith, has gained 1,074 yards and scored 22 touchdowns and will remind many of North Rowan’s Jaleel Webster, who racked up more than 300 total yards in last week’s loss to Polk County.
Greene has 32 catches for 861 yards and 12 touchdowns and will line up at several different places in the Granite Bears’ attack. Senior Ryan Edwards, with 74 total tackles and 19 tackles for loss, leads an aggressive Mount Airy defense.
“We’re going to see a team very similar to what we saw last week,” Ollis said. “They’re big upfront on both sides of the ball and they’ve got a lot of team speed.
“Like last week, a big goal for us will be to keep the ball as long as possible to keep that explosive offense off the field.”
Polk County’s transition to Avery Edwards at quarterback in a double-slot, or flexbone, formation has continued to pay dividends. Edwards threw for 176 yards on 8-of-10 attempts in the win over North Rowan, with several of those completions coming on key catches by senior Dillon Overholt.
Junior Markell Lipscomb topped the 100-yard mark receiving and the Wolverines rushed for almost 200 yards, led by Bryson Seay’s 86.
“The double-slot offense, after three weeks of running it, we haven’t perfected it, but we’re moving in that direction,” Ollis said. “Avery has been able to throw the ball awfully well. When you can go 8-for-10 for 176 yards and a touchdown, that makes us a whole ‘nother animal to defend.”
One other bit of history the Wolverines would like to rewrite on Friday. Polk County hasn’t won a road playoff game since 2000, when the Wolverines trekked to Surry County and defeated a top seed, East Surry, 16-14. The Wolverines are 0-12 in road playoff games since that win.
Now it’s back to Surry County to face a top seed, bolstered by the Wolverines’ first win over an eight-win team since defeating Owen late in the 2013 season.
“Our confidence level is very high,” Ollis said. “The kids know if they play like they’re capable of, we’re a pretty dangerous football team. We’re playing our best football right now.
“Our players are looking forward to being on the road. We’ll get dressed up and put our ties on and go represent Polk County.”