Bruce Ollis and Polk County officials have spent a few extra hours this week preparing for Friday’s regional television broadcast.
The pending arrival of Hendersonville’s high-flying offense has made for a few long nights as well.
After a two-year absence, the Bearcats are back on the Wolverines’ schedule, the 31st meeting in the rivalry set for 7:30 p.m. in G.M. Tennant Stadium. The game will be shown live on WMYA-TV, with Hendersonville’s WTZQ-AM/FM also scheduled to broadcast the contest.
With the attention of all those ears and eyes, Polk County will look to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 2010. The Wolverines will also be looking to put a dent in Hendersonville’s 20-10 lead in the series.
“This is one rivalry that needs to happen, with the proximity of the two schools,” Ollis said. “This is traditionally a football game that fans want to see.
“I know we’re excited about it. Coach (Jim) Sosebee is bringing a good team in here and we’re going to have to be hitting on all cylinders to come out on top.”
Who does emerge the winner may come down to which of two units who have excelled thus far – Hendersonville’s offense and Polk County’s defense – has the better evening.
Hendersonville once again has put together a prolific offense, averaging almost 400 yards and more than 30 points per game. Senior quarterback Woodrow Hunter leads the Bearcat attack, having thrown for 890 yards and six scores while rushing for 258 yards and three touchdowns.
Jayleon Gaines heads a rushing attack averaging 211 yards per game, with four backs with 20 carries or more.
“They have a lot of weapons, a lot like us,” Ollis said. “People think they throw the ball all the time, but they’re a 50-50 offense. They run the ball a lot like us with four kids.
“(Hunter) will be the best quarterback we’ve seen so far, but they don’t have a true go-to guy. They spread the ball all around a lot like we do. They’re also really good upfront on boths ides of the ball, similar to us.”
With the resumption of the rivalry, the multiple broadcast outlets and Polk County’s 4-0 start, distractions have been plenty this week around the Wolverine locker room. That’s added an extra dimension to game preparation for Polk County’s coaching staff.
“That’s my job, to keep the clutter to a minimum,” Ollis said. “We’ve got TV, we’ve got radiom we’re the statewide Talk It Out game (Talk It Out is a statewide effort to curb underage drinking). There’s a lot happening. I think there’s going to be a football game played, too.
“Being on TV is a big deal for these young men. It adds to the excitement.”
Ollis hopes that excitement extends to the stands, where the veteran head coach hopes to see a huge home crowd.
“The crowd was great at our last two home games,” he said. “That certainly provides a lot of motivation for our players and coaches.
“There’s going to be a lot of local interest in this game. It’s going to be a challenging game for both teams.”