Polk County senior receiver Keaundrae Green stays focused on making a catch earlier this season

Five things to know as Polk County heads into the first of its final two games of the regular season, traveling Friday to East Rutherford.

Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. for the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference matchup.

Last week: Polk County (4-4, 3-1) suffered a 70-26 loss to Chase. East Rutherford (4-5, 3-2) pulled out a 42-37 win over R-S Central.

Program resurrection: The 2021 season was one to forget for East Rutherford. The Cavaliers decided not to field a varsity football team, opting to only compete at the junior varsity level.

The Cavaliers then lost their head coach just before the 2022 season. Athletic director Philip Russ stepped in and served as interim coach, guiding East to a 1-9 record but beginning to rebuild the numbers in the program.

East opened the 2023 season with a win over Bessemer City, lost four straight games but has since won three of four, including a stunning 50-43 win over Chase. Russ has the Cavaliers on the verge of completing a .500 season and possibly earning a playoff spot.

It’s quite a turnaround for a program that many thought was on the verge of collapse just two years ago.

Iron man: East Rutherford sophomore Brandon Pinkerton needs just nine yards to surpass 1,000 for the season. He has more than earned that honor.

Pinkerton has been the workhouse of the East Rutherford offense, carrying 195 times in the Cavaliers’ nine games to date. Included in that total is a stunning 46-carry game against Chase and 37 carries for 210 yards in last week’s win.

The 6-0, 150-pound back also has 19 catches for 198 yards and helps return kickoffs. Pinkerton stays busy on Friday nights, to say the least.

Second-year sensation: Cavalier sophomore quarterback Landon Flynn took his lumps in East’s 1-9 season a year ago. But Flynn has played a key role in the Cavs’ turnaround this season.

Flynn enters Friday’s game having thrown for 1,720 yards and 18 touchdowns on 122-of-220 attempts. He threw for 332 yards in East’s loss to Brevard, attemtping 51 passes, and has topped 200 yards in five of East’s last six games.

Flynn has impressed Polk County coaches with his accuracy and his connection with junior wide receiver Blake McClellan, who has caught 47 passes for 705 yards and eight touchdowns. McClellan is also a threat running the ball, with 57 carries for 246 yards and 13 touchdowns – that’s 21 total TDs.

Shootout in the works: East Rutherford has been putting up yards and points in recent weeks, but its defense has largely been allowing the same.

The Cavaliers are allowing 40 points per game this season, giving up 35 or more points in seven of their nine games. That could be good news for a Polk County offense averaging 30 points per game this season.

East has averaged 33 points per game, so the potential for a scoreboard-spinning kind of evening is definitely high. Rain is forecast throughout the day on Friday, so conditions could play a factor in perhaps slowing down the offenses.

Much at stake: There are plenty of playoff implications for Friday’s matchup.

Polk County needs one more win to assure itself a .500 record for the season, which would mean an automatic playoff berth and likely at least one home game. The Wolverines are likely to qualify for the postseason even with two losses, but would be heading on the road and likely to one of the top teams in the 1A West bracket with two defeats.

The Mountain Foothills 7 Conference gets two automatic 2A playoff berths, and East Rutherford would give itself a shot at one of those with a win. The Cavs would be 4-2 in that scenario and could only be caught by Chase (whom East has already beaten) and Hendersonville (who beat East, but still must face conference leader Brevard).

Even without the automatic berth, a win could boost East’s RPI high enough for a wild-card slot – the Cavaliers currently are 33rd in the 2A West field.