The chatter around Western North Carolina high school football this week is that East Rutherford might be the best 0-5 team anywhere to be found.
Count Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis among those contributing to the discussion.
“This isn’t coachspeak – they’re a pretty good football team,” Ollis said. “We can’t let our guard down and we can’t rest on our laurels.”
Polk County will find out exactly how good East Rutherford is on Friday as the Wolverines make the trip to Bostic to face the Cavaliers. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
For the 5-0 Wolverines to continue their magical start to the season and match the 6-0 effort of the 2010 team, they’ll have to find a way to do what few have done this season – slow down East Rutherford’s Calvin Jones.
The 5-10 senior has been Mr. Everything this season for the Cavs. He leads East Rutherford in rushing (57-357), receiving (30-531), touchdowns (13), punt returns, total yards (1,120) and tackles (62). He has returned a punt for a touchdown, he is tied for the team lead in fumble recoveries and he’s added a couple of 2-point conversions.
“They’ve got probably the best athlete we’ll see all year in Calvin Jones,” Ollis said. “He leads them in tackles, rushing, receiving, touchdowns and total yards. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.
“He can score from anywhere on the field. He certainly has the ability to change the game.”
East has lost three straight games to some quality teams by a touchdown or less – Brevard (16-14), Pisgah (28-25) and R-S Central (35-28). They also dropped a 56-42 decision to undefeated West Henderson in the season opener. East’s five opponents to date have a combined 22-5 record.
The Cavaliers will look to throw more than pass, with sophomore quarterback Travonta Mauney hitting 74-of-132 passes for 1,145 yards. He has an 11-to-3 touchdown-interception ratio.
“He’s a thrower, a precise thrower,” Ollis said. “They like to throw vertically, to send Jones down the field and get the ball to him. They present a lot of problems. They run well. They’re big upfront.”
Polk County will enter the game as healthy as its been all season and as confident in the wake of the team’s 20-17 win over Hendersonville. The regionally televised game often had the feel of a playoff game, and Ollis liked seeing his squad respond to trailing for the first time this season with a touchdown drive to win the game in the final minutes.
“Playing a game like that was good for us,” he said. “It was a very competitive, hard-fought game, very physical. We made plays on offense, we made plays on defense to win the game, and that’s important to do.
“Certainly we’re going to have to play well to beat East Rutherford. We can’t take anything for granted if we’re going to beat the Cavaliers.”