By halftime Friday night at The Little Big House, only two bits of intrigue remained for Polk County’s football team and fans – how many points would the Wolverines score and who would be crowned the 2013 Homecoming queen.
Senior track and field standout Charlyn Bullock provided the answer to the latter. And the Wolverines soon resolved the former, cruising to a 62-7 victory over Mitchell to extend their winning streak to five games.
Polk County (5-3, 3-0) scored on its first offensive play and dominated an outmanned Mitchell team hampered by injuries and inexperience. The Mountaineers (1-5, 0-2) managed just one first down in the first half and only ran four plays in the half on which they gained more than a yard. Polk County, meanwhile, had four touchdown plays of 30 yards or longer and a special teams touchdown in building a 41-0 halftime lead.
“Mitchell’s season has not been what they’ve had in the past, so we felt like if we could make something positive happen early for us, it would make it tough on them,” said Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis. “We had a great start to the game. We had a great kickoff return, then we scored on the first play.
“We certainly wanted to preserve the shutout, and we didn’t do that. But that was really the only negative of the game.”
That and an unfortunate injury for senior standout Reese Schlabach. With Polk up 55-7 early in the fourth quarter, Schlabach took the field with the Polk punt team. Despite calling for a fair catch on the punt, Schlabach was hit by a Mitchell defender as he caught the kick. Schlabach was eventually helped off the field with an abdominal injury.
“Reece took a shot in the abdominal area,” Ollis said. “That certainly could create some problems, but (trainer Wink Mintz) seemed to think he’ll be OK. That’s probably my fault for having him in there. We only have one punt return team. We don’t have enough depth for a second punt return team. So when we called punt return, he went out.”
Schlabach rushed for 122 yards on seven carries, with three touchdowns, and threw for 174 yards on 5-of-12 passing for another score as the Wolverines have now scored 142 points in their past two games, the best back-to-back offensive weeks in Ollis’ 12 seasons at Polk County (previous best, 126 points, 2010).
Set up by Jordan Smith’s long return of the opening kickoff, the Wolverines scored first on Donte Poston’s 30-yard run, Poston taking a toss sweep around the left side, tiptoeing the sideline for the final few yards and reaching for the end zone. Polk then surprised Mitchell by going for two, with Schlabach hitting Tyrone Miller for an 8-0 lead just 21 seconds into the game.
An interception off a tipped pass spoiled Polk’s next possession, but the Wolverines took over at midfield on their next chance and scored in six plays, Schlabach dropping back to pass, finding no one open and scrambling through the Mitchell defense for a 16-yard score. Anthony Marino’s point after made it 15-0 with 2:38 left in the first.
The Wolverines got the ball back, again at midfield, with 24 seconds left in the period. Schlabach ran the option to perfection, faking a pitch, then cutting back and finding nothing but open space to the end zone. The 50-yard scamper and Marino’s extra point made it 22-0.
Polk’s next scoring drive covered 53 yards – note how the Wolverine defense continually gave the offense great field position by forcing quick Mitchell three-and-out possessions – and ended with Schlabach tossing a pass into the left flat to Jamal Tanner, who weaved his way through the Mountaineer defense for a 39-yard touchdown play, giving Polk a 28-0 lead with 9:04 left in the second period. Mitchell then managed its lone first down of the half on a 34-yard pass play from Drey Phillips to Oscar Cruz, but Polk stiffened and forced a punt, taking over at its 14.
Three runs and two procedure penalties later, Schlabach hit Anthony Carson slanting in from the right side, and Carson did the rest, breaking a tackle and racing to the end zone for a 77-yard scoring play with 3:33 left. After another Mitchell three-and-out, Polk planned to give its two-minute offense a test, but the snap on the attempted punt sailed into the end zone, and Tanner outraced the Mitchell punter for the ball, falling on it in the end zone for a 41-0 bulge with 1:19 left in the half.
“We were going to run our two-minute offense there, and I really wanted to get a look at it,” Ollis said. “After we recovered the punt in the end zone someone said, ‘Coach, that’s a pretty good two-minute offense.’ ”
Mitchell finally got on the board midway through the third period on a 44-yard pass play from Phillips to Tre Carson. Polk responded late in the quarter as Schlabach broke free on a 40-yard scoring run. The Wolverines added two scores in the final period as Tanner, in at quarterback, threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Smith and Tanner Garrett, in at quarterback, threw a 14-yard scoring strike to senior Saquan Miller, his first varsity touchdown.
Carson caught four passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. Polk rushed for 275 yards on 28 carries, with Smith having 51 yards on four carries and Poston adding 50 on seven. Mitchell finished with 126 yards rushing and 102 passing.
“Our team speed looked very good,” Ollis said. “That has been one of the keys these past few weeks, we’ve had an advantage in team speed.
“We did a lot of good things tonight. Now it’s on to Avery.”