Assistant coach Zach Searcy gathered Polk County’s starting offensive linemen into a circle Friday night prior to a second-half drive.
“You guys are the five best players on the field,” Searcy shouted. “The five best.”
He could have said the same thing about a few groups on Polk’s sidelines.
The Wolverines dominated R-S Central, handing the previously unbeaten Hilltoppers a 42-0 defeat in a non-conference clash at G.M. Tennant Stadium.
It marked the first time in 18 meetings between the two rivals that Polk County (3-0) kept R-S Central (2-1) off the scoreboard, and the Wolverines did so in convincing fashion, holding the Hilltoppers to 38 total yards and three first downs, one of those by penalty. R-S Central helped Polk’s cause by committing five turnovers, including three fumbles in its first 10 offensive plays.
The Wolverines earned their second straight shutout, a feat last accomplished early in the 2017 season.
Polk built a 21-0 halftime lead that might have been larger without two of its own turnovers, then scored three times in a six-minute span in the second half to clinch its largest margin of victory in the series.
“The game is won upfront, and again our guys were solid,” said Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis. “They take a lot of pride in what they do. (Defensive coordinator Jamie Thompson) is doing such a great job defensively that all we need to do is get a safety.
“The thing about their turnovers is that early, we took advantage of them. I really felt like these were two evenly matched teams. But the ball kind of got rolling and it was tough for them to stop once it started down the mountain.”
Polk County scored on its first possession, a 22-yard Angus Weaver run on a fourth-and-four, but took command of the game with a two-play sequence late in the first quarter.
R-S Central picked up its only first down of the first half on the drive following Weaver’s score before fumbling for the second time in the quarter. That gave Polk County the ball at the R-S 43, and Ollis dialed up a halfback pass, with Jordan Bishop taking a pitch, stopping and firing a strike to a wide-open Steven Chupp, who sprinted into the end zone to complete the scoring play.
“We had a timeout, and Coach Ollis said we were going to run that play,” Bishop said. “By gosh it worked.”
The lead stayed at 14-0 until an Evan Miller interception late in the second quarter gave Polk possession at the R-S 32. A play later, Lukas Tipton motored through the middle of the R-S defense for a 34-yard touchdown jaunt, with Matias Akers’ extra point giving Polk a 21-0 lead with 1:18 left in the half.
Bishop played a key role in Polk’s first scoring drive of the second half, an 11-play, 76-yard effort. He sprinted around right end for 37 yards on the drive’s second play, then caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Jergenson to end it, with Akers adding the point after to make it 28-0 with 2:10 left in the third period.
“Right before that play, Coach Ollis said, this is going to work as well,” Bishop said of the scoring play. “The man’s smart.”
Jergenson tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Chupp midway through the fourth period, R-S fumbled on its first offensive play after that touchdown and Nate Henderson swept around right end and scored on the next snap, a 17-yard run that capped the scoring and brought about a running clock with 7:23 to go.
“I think that’s the best ball our quarterback has thrown all year,” Ollis said of the pass to Chupp. “That was a laser beam.”
Tipton rushed for 63 yards to lead a balanced Polk County rushing attack while Jergenson finished 4-for-6 passing for 45 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Jaiden Coston rushed for 26 yards to lead R-S Central’s offense.
Polk County has an open date next Friday before hosting East Henderson on Sept. 20.
R-S Central 0 0 0 0 – 0
Polk County 14 7 7 14 – 42
PC – Angus Weaver 22 run (Matias Akers kick), 5:01
PC – Steven Chupp 43 pass from Jordan Bishop (Akers kick), 2:59
PC – Lukas Tipton 34 run (Akers kick), 1:18
PC – Bishop 12 pass from Bryce Jergenson (Akers kick), 2:10
PC – Chupp 11 pass from Jergenson (Akers kick), 7:41
PC – Nate Henderson 23 run (Akers kick), 7:23
PC – Lukas Tipton 13-63, Nate Henderson 3-42, Jordan Bishop 2-37, Angus Weaver 6-37, Bryce Jergenson 11-15, Gage McSwain 4-5, Shane Parris 1-0, Tyler Staley 3-(-3). RS – Jaiden Coston 16-26, Ken Hines III 3-7, Bryson Jarrell 1-4, Xavier Toms 3-2, Jayden Hooper 2-0, C.J Hannon 1-0, Jamire Gibbs 2-(-1).
PC – Bryce Jergenson 4-6-1-45, Jordan Bishop 1-1-0-43. RS – Jaiden Coston 0-3-1-0.
PC – Steven Chupp 2-54, Lukas Tipton 1-14, Jordan Bishop 1-12, Gage McSwain 1-8.