It’s not uncommon to hear football coaches approaching rivalry games to talk about keeping emotions in check, not getting too excited, not getting too caught up in the hoopla around the game.
Not the case for Polk County head coach Dustin Fry as the Wolverines prepare for Friday’s trip to Landrum and the latest encounter in the border battle between the schools.
Especially coming off a forgettable 48-6 loss at West Henderson.
“I hope we’re more emotional,” Fry said. “I felt like we slept walked the first quarter, the longest quarter of all football last wweek. So, no, I hope we’re up a little bit more. I hope we’re more emotional.
“You can worry about guys getting way too jacked up, but I don’t worry about that so much. I think they’re just more excited about playing a rivalry game and knowing what that means.”
Both Landrum and Polk County will enter Friday’s game, the 31st meeting between the schools, coming off tough losses. The Cardinals (1-1) dropped a 34-6 decision to St. Joseph’s while the Wolverines (1-2) had the aforementioned setback in Mills River.
That loss came at the end of a very long week for the Wolverine program. Weather forced the team to practice in alterate settings for a couple of days, and Wednesday’s practice included a health issue. Thursday morning then arrived all too early for Fry as a tree fell through the living room of his home, forcing his family to find alternate living arrangements.
Perhaps all of that distracted the Wolverines as they trekked to West Henderson. Such hasn’t been the case in preparing for Landrum; Fry has been encouraged this week by his squad’s response, calling Tuesday’s practce one of the better workouts of the season.
“I’ve told them all week it’s just about getting that sour taste out of our mouth and bouncing back,” he said. “We’ve got to prepare better. Everyone’s got to do a little bit more, making sure they understand the game plan and understand what’s going on.
“I think we’ve all challenged them that, watching that practice film and seeing how some of them work in practice, that isn’t getting anyone better, this isn’t helping. This is a 10-second rep and you’ve got four reps – can you not get 40 seconds of hard work? But I think they’re excited about getting back in the grass and playing, because it was nice to have a little break last weekend, but it just wasn’t the nicest weekend knowing that you just got thumped.”
Polk County knows a challenge will await in Landrum, with first-year head coach Brent Bridges bringing a spread offense that is making the most of the talents of running back Colton Link, a 1,200-yard rusher a season ago. Fry hopes the lessons learned from last week’s loss can help the Wolverines knock off their Thermal Belt neighbors.
“We’re better than what we showed, we’re better than what we coached,” he said. “So, yes, definitely some learning opportunites in that one.”