Polk County players push the pile to convert a fourth-and-one in the season-opening win over Madison

Five things to know as Tuscola visits Polk County in week two of the 2023 football season.

Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. The game will also air live on NFHS Network.

Last week: Polk County forced four Madison interceptions, returning one for a score, and Antonio Simpson scored twice to lead the Wolverines to a 33-7 victory. Tuscola saw a late turnover end its hopes of engineering a home win over Asheville, the Mountainers falling 25-22.

A most unusual coaching matchup: It’s not often that two high school teams square off with head coaches on both sidelines with NFL playing experience and higher-level coaching experience.

Tuscola head coach Jonathan Crompton starred at Tennesse and was drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by San Diego. He eventually moved to Canada and played three seasons in the Canadian Football League, leading Montreal to the Eastern Final in 2014.

When his playing days ended, he joined Toronto and coached one season there, then coached a season with Bishop’s Gaiters, a college program, for a season.

Polk County head coach Dustin Fry was a fifth-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2007, played four seasons in the NFL and then began a college coaching career with stops at Clemson, SMU and Arkansas.

“To be honest with you, I haven’t thought about that,” Fry said. “It’s for media and fans and everything. My focus is that when we watch film, it’s the next team.

“I have a lot of respect for Coach Crompton and the type of coach he is. You can see that they’re well-coached. But for me, it’s never been about the coach or coordinator across the field.”

Go West: Senior quarterback Jed West transferred to Tuscola in July from Smoky Mountain. He made his Mountaineer debut last week a memorable one, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for another. West is a definite dual threat, just as likely to carry the ball as throw it. Stopping him will be key for Polk County.

When West does throw, senior Bryant Oancea and junior Jonas Howard are among his top targets. Each scored a touchdown against Asheville.

Practice makes perfect: Fry wasn’t happy with the number of mental mistakes that Polk County made in its opener, and addressing that has been a theme of practice throughout this week.

“You’ve got to bring it up because this is the type of stuff, you fumble on a short-yardage drill, you don’t pick up a first down on third-and-one,” he said. “You take away more opportunities to score by not picking up a third down or screwing up a situation where you jump offside.

“I think they’re starting to understand how important those little things are in the game rather than, oh, it’s just third-and-one, let’s go. No, we get at least three more plays if we pick this up, we get at least three more scoring opportunities. I think they’re starting to see that a little bit.”

Mountie mastery: Polk County took a 25-20 win in the last meeting between the schools, with Jordan Smith catching a 25-yard pass from Alec Philpott for the winning score.

That victory was the Wolverines’ fourth straight in the series, those games played from 2009-2012. The first of those victories, the Wolverines’ 26-21 home triumph in 2009, featured two lightning delays that led to the game not ending until almost midnight.