DALLAS – The matchup of flexbone offenses here Friday evening had a Sesame Street feel about it.
One of those things was not like the other.
Polk County’s dominance of both sides of the line of scrimmage set the foundation for the Wolverines’ 24-0 win over North Gaston in a non-conference matchup at Trudnak Stadium.
The Wolverines (2-0) pitched their first shutout in almost two years by pushing around the Wildcats (0-1), especially in the first half. Polk County averaged eight yards per first-down play and put together two scoring drives in buiding a 14-0 lead at the break.
Two teams looking to establish their triple option made possessions precious – Polk had three in the first half, North Gaston just two. The Wildcats drove as far as the Polk 24 on their second, their best possesion of the night, but came away scoreless and never threatened again.
At night’s end, game officials put away their flags and threw out compliments instead.
“The white hat came up to me after the game and said, ‘Coach, that’s the most impressive front we’ve seen on both sides of the ball in a long time,’ ” said Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis. “He said, ‘You guys are 1A?’ I said yes, we are, and he said, ‘that makes it even more impressive.’ It was another great group effort. We’re playing so well up front that we can almost do anything rushing the ball.
“When you pitch a shutout, you can’t lose. (Defensive coordinator Jamie Thompson) came up with a great plan and our guys executed it well. Even when they had a couple of big runs we locked them down and kept them out of the end zone.”
The Wolverine defense unofficially held North Gaston to 63 yards rushing and 132 total yards and delivered its own score, with Evan Miller intercepting a pass late in the third quarter and returning it 25 yards for a touchdown.
“We never let them get off the schneid, so to speak,” Ollis said. “They just never got anything rolling consecutively. They had some third-down plays and we stopped them and they had a fourth down and we stopped that.
“Our defense is playing with a lot of confidence. We played this well in the preseason, and they came into the season thinking they could pitch a shutout and that’s what we did tonight.”
The Wolverines took the opening kickoff and drive 48 yards in five plays for the game’s first score, that a 25-yard run by Gage McSwain. Matias Akers’ extra point gave Polk a 7-0 lead with 8:52 still to go in the opening period.
North Gaston punted on its next drive, and a blocking penalty pushed Polk back to its eight. The Wolverines spent the next 7:40 covering those 92 yards to the end zone, running 13 plays. The drive signified the Wolverines’ effort upfront; Polk never faced a third down during the series, which ended with freshman Angus Weaver scoring his first varsity touchdown on a six-yard run. Akers’ extra point made the lead 14-0 with 8:43 left in the half.
The Wolverines also scored on their first drive of the third period, with Akers drilling a 25-yard field goal. Miller then delivered his interception and return, and Akers booted a 35-yard extra point following a penalty to put the Wolverines up 24-0 with 3:52 left in the third.
“Coach (Jamie) Thompson always says do your job and trust yourself and your teammates and good things will happen,” Miller said. “I saw the flow coming my way and I dropped back in coverage.”
And then, Miller saw just one thing. “Green grass,” he said.
Polk’s offensive starters played just one more series before Wolverine reserves closed out the game.
Lukas Tipton rushed for 73 yards on 11 carries to lead Polk’s offense, with Weaver adding 54 yards on eight carries. Parker threw for 69 yards on 4-of-10 attempts and Waylin Webb rushed for 55 yards on 13 carries for North Gaston.