Five things to know as Polk County celebrates Homecoming in G.M. Tennant Stadium and welcomes R-S Central in a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference matchup.
Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Polk County (3-3, 2-0) outlasted Hendersonville in a wild 34-30 victory. R-S Central (1-4, 0-2) dropped a 50-20 decision to Brevard.
It’s Homecoming: Polk County will crown the 2023 Homecoming Queen during halftime of Friday’s game. The festivities will begin at 5 p.m. with the annual parade through downtown Columbus, that beginning at Stearns Education Center and continuing to Polk County High School.
One of seven seniors will be crowned this year’s Queen – Vanessa Raposa, Caroline Taylor, Sarah Gray, Elena Carroll, Brianna Gray, Ada Kelley or Isabella Oates.
Miss Wolverine will also be selected from the freshmen, sophomores and juniors in the court.
Welcome back: Perhaps it’s appropriate that Polk County is celebrating Homecoming on a night when two former players return to Tennant Stadium.
Brothers Karlen and Kendall McEntyre moved from Polk County to R-S Central earlier this year. Karlen McEntyre has become the heart of the run-heavy offense for the Hilltoppers, averaging 101.2 yards per game and 7.8 yards per carry. He had a season-high 155 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s loss to Brevard.
Kendall McEntyre is playing in the defensive line for the Hilltoppers, but the 280-pound lineman has turned a page back to his Polk County Middle days and has three rushing attempts for 15 yards and a touchdown.
“We know their running back well,” said Polk County head coach Dustin Fry.
Run, run, run: Not a lot of mystery about what R-S Central will try to do offensively in Friday’s game.
The Hilltoppers have run 194 times this season compared to just 36 pass attempts. Karlen McEntyre has 65 of those attempts, with senior Marcus McKinney (27-240-3) the second rushing option. That’s proven to be a good thing as R-S Central has completed just 12 of those 36 pass attempts.
Hendersonville’s Hezzie Rudisill rushed for 315 yards in last week’s loss at Polk County, and Fry expects the Hilltoppers to focus on testing the Wolverine run defense.
“They’re definitely a run-first team,” Fry said. “We’ve got to do a good job playing assignment football because if we don’t, if we’re outside of our gaps and we’re not squeezing right, we’re going to have some issues with what they do.”
Super sophomore: Linebacker Zalen McCraw is emerging as a leader for Polk County’s defense.
The sophomore is second on the team in tackles with 43 and has also recorded seven tackles for loss and six sacks.
McCraw has also shown a nose for the ball, having recovered three fumbles and forced one. He’s been involved in a turnover in four straight games.
Scoring streak: Polk County will look to continue an impressive offensive streak this week.
The Wolverines have scored at least 40 points in their last three meetings with R-S Central, that including last year’s 42-21 win in Rutherfordton. You have to go back to 2018’s 13-12 Hilltopper victory to find the last sub-40 effort for Polk County.
Polk owns a 13-7 lead in the series, with the teams having met every year since 2003 except the delayed 2020 schedule that took place in spring 2021.