Polk County and R-S Central finished the 2018 football regular season with a combined five wins.
By the end of their Week 3 meeting Friday night, the two teams will have matched that total.
Both teams are off to 2-0 starts, and the Wolverines will look to make it three straight wins in the non-conference matchup set for 7:30 p.m. at G.M. Tennant Stadium.
Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis expects a very competitive tussle in the 18th meeting of what’s become a healthy rivalry between the two schools.
“Winning gives you momentum and gives you confidence,” he said. “That’s why you’re going to have two pretty confident teams coming up to the plate on Friday night.”
The Hilltoppers have posted wins over McDowell and Patton thanks in large part to its version of the same flexbone offense that Polk County runs.
Sophomore quarterback Jaiden Coston has been electric, rushing for 207 yards and three touchdowns in the two wins while also hitting 5-of-9 passes for 84 yards and a score. Another sophomore, Xavier Toms, has rushed for 197 yards with a gaudy per-carry average of 11.6 yards.
“They really execute the flexbone well,” Ollis said. “Their quarterback is an operator. He’s very quick and has a burst and he throws the ball well, too.
“They’re pretty good upfront on both sides of the ball. We’re going to have to play our best.”
Polk County’s ground game has also been effective, the Wolverines averaging seven yards per attempt in their two victories. Lukas Tipton leads a balanced attack with 135 yards and a score, running behind an offensive line that has excelled thus far.
Many of those same players have been part of a Polk County defense that has held both of its opponents under 150 total yards while allowing just one touchdown in the two games.
“One thing we’re doing defensively is swarming to the football,” Ollis said. “The kids have played really good team defense. If we don’t turn the ball over deep against Cherokee, we would have two straight shutouts.”
With no rain in the forecast, Ollis expects a large crowd for Friday’s game as Polk County looks to avenge a 13-12 setback last season to the Hilltoppers.
“It’s really developed into a rivalry and a bragging rights game,” he said. “We lost a tough game over there last year, and I’ve reminded our players of that. We’ve talked about playing with emotion, but not being emotional.”