Bryce Jergenson’s Saturday mornings these days are much like those of any other teenager – wake up, have some breakfast, spend a few hours watching television.
Not a lot of teens, though, are grabbing an early-morning ride with Polk County football coach Bruce Ollis to get to a TV.
Following each game this season, the Wolverines’ sophomore quarterback has spent part of each Saturday reviewing game film with Ollis. The two typically take 3-4 hours going over the previous night’s game, discussing different aspects of the film while Ollis also works on his game grades.
Jergenson isn’t the first Wolverine quarterback to show up on Saturdays – those who have, Ollis said, are names well known to Polk County fans.
“The great ones have, the Jim Ollises, the Andre Overholts, the Alec Philpotts,” Ollis said. “Being a quarterback is whole different level of commitment. Coming in here tells me that a player wants to do the things to succeed, and when that happens, we have a chance to be a pretty good football team.
“It also gives us a chance to develop a good working relationship and a relationship on a personal level, which is important.”
It’s not always an easy way to spend a Saturday. Following Friday’s 20-14 loss at Owen, Jergenson said he got in bed around 1 a.m., then was back up at 8 so that he could be at Polk County’s field house by 9. Ollis usually sets up a table in the Wolverines’ weight room and the two begin breaking down each play from the previous evening.
But Jergenson finds the interaction extremely valuable given that this is his first season as a quarterback; he played everything from lineman to running back in his youth, middle school and high school career prior to this season. Plus, Jergenson notes, he was already watching film each week.
“(Ollis) asked me to come watch film with him and I said, sure, I do it anyway at home,” Jergenson said. “I’ll come watch it with you and get more criticism out of it.
“I see who I should have read on a veer play, or who was open and who wasn’t, if I got much depth on my drop. Little things, but major things as well. It helps build a relationship between me and him. It gets us more comfortable with each other. I know his expectations better now so that I know what to do and what not to do.”
Jergenson has done plenty of the former this season. He has been a remarkably consistent factor in Polk County’s 7-1 record, completing 23-of-39 passes for 411 yards and nine touchdowns while throwing just three interceptions amd rushing for 158 yards and four scores. Ollis grades each play his quarterbacks run on a 0-4 scale, and Jergenson’s game-winning touchdown pass to beat Hendersonville earlier this season received a 4, one of only a few Ollis said he has handed out in his career.
“You’ve got to grade a 2.0 as a quarterback at Polk County to get a film grade,” Ollis said. “He’s gotten a film grade the (East Rutherford and Madison) games. If he’s film grading, chances are we’re winning. In the games prior to that, he was one or two plays away.”
Ollis thinks the film sessions have played a key role not only in Jergenson’s development, but creating a vital bond between head coach and quarterback.
“It’s a great learning experience for both of us,” said Ollis, who also calls Polk County’s plays. “We connect in a way that you don’t normally connect with other players. We’ve got to be thinking on the same wavelength.
“Bryce has a quiet confidence he exudes, and one of my biggest reasons for asking him to be part of this is to develop leadership ability and to grow a greater understanding of the game. . . If someone had told me he’d be 7-1 as a starting quarterback, I’d have said, check me off on that. He’s really proven himself.”
Jergenson admits the transition to being behind center hasn’t always been easy.
“It was rough at first,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a toughest part, but just learning everything from a different position on the field since I was a running back last year. Now I have to know everything.
“(The film sessions) help me with my situational during games. I see what I did wrong and I can see it better the next time I’m in that situation.”
One situation Jergenson doesn’t want to repeat is the outcome at Owen, and that’s one reason he gives up part of each Saturday.
“To get better,” Jergenson said of his reasons for joining Ollis every week. “To prevent what happened last night from happening again.”