Five things to know as Polk County heads into its final game of the regular season, traveling to Brevard.
Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. for the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference matchup.
Last week: Polk County (4-5, 3-2) suffered a 63-20 loss to Chase. Brevard (7-2, 5-0) shut out Hendersonville 24-0.
On a roll: Brevard has already secured the MF7 regular-season title and will be looking to complete a perfect run through the league and improve its RPI for the upcoming playoffs.
The Blue Devils have won seven straight games since an 0-2 start to the season. Only one of those games has been close, a 28-21 victory at Chase. Every other game has been decided by at least 20 points in Brevard’s favor.
Defense has been key for the Blue Devils – no team has scored more than 21 points in the past seven games, and Brevard enters Friday’s matchup having pitched back-to-back shutouts against Patton and Hendersonville. Brevard recorded seven sacks in the win over the Bearcats.
On the run: As perhaps reflects a team that hasn’t had many close games, the Blue Devils have rushed the ball more than twice the number of times they’ve thrown it – and with a lot of balance.
Brevard has two players – sophomore Braylon Thompson and senior Corey Matthews – with 90-plus carries and 500-plus rushing yards. Thompson has seven touchdowns, but Matthews was the workhorse in last week’s win, carrying 21 times for 96 yards.
Given Polk County’s recent issues with stopping the run, expect to see both backs get plenty of attempts this week.
On the rise: Sophomore quarterback Benji Kessinger has settled into the starting role for the Blue Devils and has thrown for more than 1,000 yards this season.
Kessinger has been effective and protective, tossing 18 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He’s completing passes at a 66.7 percent clip, though he’s not had to throw often with a season-high 17 attempts in wins over East Rutherford and Hendersonville.
Kessinger and Brevard will no doubt welcome Friday’s weather forecast, which calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. A storm arrived during last week’s win over Hendersonville, bringing strong winds and rain; the Bearcats had a punt land behind the kicker, according to news reports.
The game was also filled with flags, with 23 penalties called, including two unsportsmanlike flags against Brevard head coach Luke Coleman that led to his disqulification. No doubt the Devils will also hope for a calmer evening in addition to calmer weather.
On the books: Friday’s game will mark just the eighth meeting between Polk County and Brevard. It has been a good series for the Wolverines.
Polk County won the first six meetings between the schools, five of those played between 2009-2012. Brevard, though, broke that string last season with a 31-27 win in the Wolverines’ regular-season finale.
On the fence: Polk County still has a shot at finishing the regular season with a .500 win-loss record, which would qualify the Wolverines for a higher seed in the state 1A playoffs and a first-round home game.
If Polk doesn’t pick up a win Friday, the Wolverines will still qualify for the postseason. There are aa handful of scenarios as to where Polk could travel in the first round, but the most likely projection at present is an opening-round trip to face the loser of Friday’s Swain-Robbinsville game.
It’s also possible that Polk could travel to Bessemer City, and a few other schools are in play as possible first-round destinations. Official pairings will be announced Saturday.