As the clock ticked zero Friday, Bruce Ollis clasped his grandson’s hand and broke into a wide grin as he walked onto W.J. Miller Field.
Big Homecoming victory, family all around, a milestone coaching win.
Awful lot to smile about.
Polk County’s dominant 42-9 victory over East Rutherford in G.M. Tennant Stadium marked the 150th win of Ollis’ tenure at Polk and helped the Wolverines wash away some of the bitter taste of last week’s loss at Chase.
Angus Weaver scored three touchdowns, Antonio Simpson added two more and Polk’s 21-player squad, numbers thinned by injuries and illness, celebrated after a day of worrying just who might actually be fit enough to take the field.
“We faced some adversity this week, with so many sick people and we’ve lost three guys for the season,” said Ollis, who improved to 150-70 in his Polk coaching career and 237-181 overall. “We were down seven or eight starters tonight. And I’m so proud of the way these guys played.
“We just bowed up a little bit, and I was real proud of that.”
The night at times felt a bit like the loss at Chase, a game in which the Trojans hit several big plays for scores on short drives. Polk County (5-4, 3-2) mirrored that Friday with four one-play scoring possessions plus an interception return for a touchdown.
A running clock for much of the second half helped limit touches for both teams, but Polk still totalled 246 yards on just 29 offensive plays.
The Wolverine defense, meanwhile, never allowed East Rutherford (1-8, 1-4) to generate much offensively. The Cavaliers finished with minus-8 yards rushing and just 60 total yards. Much of that yardage came on East’s lone touchdown drive in the late third/early fourth quarter.
“Defensively, we really played well,” Ollis said. “I was just so pleased with our effort. We got through a tough time this week after a tough loss a week ago.”
The first five minutes effectively set the tone for the evening. Polk forced three-and-outs on East’s first two possessions, then struck for the first time after Karlen McEntyre’s 17-yard punt return gave the Wolverines the ball at the East 29. Weaver immediately raced almost untouched up the middle and to the end zone, with Logan Nodine’s point after giving Polk a 7-0 lead with 8:12 left in the first quarter.
Simpson turned the Cavaliers’ next possession into Polk points, intercepting a Landon Flynn pass and racing 60 yards past the East bench to score. Nodine upped the lead to 14-0 with seven minutes still left in the opening period.
A botched snap on a punt later in the quarter gave Polk the ball at the Cavalier 11, and Weaver romped around left end on the next play and drove into the end zone, helping Polk grab a 21-0 advantage.
Another East punt led to another Polk one-play scoring drive, this one a 47-yard pass from Casey Beiler to Simpson. Nodine’s kick made it 28-0 with 11:43 still left in the half.
The Wolverines soon got the ball back again on a spectacular Evan Jones interception, the senior reaching up with one hand while on one knee and snaring a Blake McClellan pass. But Polk couldn’t add points to its total, and Kelden Bostic’s 37-yard field goal made it a 28-3 margin at the break.
“We did a lot of dynamic things early in the game,” Ollis said. “We hit a little lull there at the end of the second quarter.”
Weaver opened the second half with a 72-yard touchdown run, and McEntyre added a 23-yard scamper midway through the third period to up the Polk lead to 42-3. East Rutherford coaches asked for the running clock at that point, and the final 19 minutes quickly ticked away.
Weaver finished with 125 yards on just seven carries. Simpson had three catches for 72 yards, and freshman Nolan Simpson made his first varsity start one to remember with an interception, nearly grabbing one or two more.
Two of Ollis’ four childen – oldest son Jim and daughter Lauren – were in attendance at the game, as were all four of Ollis’ grandchildren, adding a special touch to the special 150th win in blue and white.
“It’s because I’ve got great coaches and super good players,” Ollis said. “We’ve been blessed.
“I tell people Polk County is my home.”