Halloween wasn’t quite the treat Thursday night the Polk County junior varsity football team hoped it would be.

An already young Wolverine squad, missing some starters due to illness, suffered a 42-0 setback to Owen at The Little Big House. The loss in the home finale left Polk County with a 3-6 record heading into next week’s season-ending game at Hendersonville.

The defeat, though, doesn’t take away from what’s been a season of growth for the Wolverines, who began the year with a roster long on desire but short on experience.

“We have a lot of kids who are in their first year ever playing football,” said Polk head junior varsity coach Pat McCool. “When we started the season and looked at our skill players, we had three kids who had played middle school football. You gotta have five starters there.

“But they’ve done well. The effort has always been there, and that’s what you look for.”

Indeed, the Wolverines began the season 1-4, but rebounded to win two of their next three, including an 18-0 shutout of Avery two weeks ago. Thursday’s game also began on a promising note for Polk as Troy Lieberman sprinted for 14 yards on the Wolverines’ first play. But Owen (5-5) soon forced a punt, then drove 74 yards for the game’s first touchdown on a Cyrus Hooper 18-yard run.

Hooper scored twice more in the half on runs of 31 and four yards and Tyler Hensley added a 6-yard touchdown scamper as Owen built a 28-0 halftime edge. Hooper than ran 73 yards for a score on the first play of the third quarter before Adam Weeks scored on a 1-yard run late in the third quarter to close out the scoring.

“Tonight was not a night you like to have,” McCool said. “But next week we may play really well.

“We’re trying to get the kids ready for varsity in the next year or two. Coach Ollis will take them and get them in the weight room and turn them into men.”

Photo: Head JV coach Pat McCool addresses the Wolverines after a game earlier this season (Jane Ollis photo).