Polk County head football coach Jamie Thompson

It may not have felt that way Friday night, but there will come a point this season when Polk County’s football team will be grateful for its 50-20 loss at Shelby, according to head coach Jamie Thompson.

“When all is said and done, like I told the team, we’re going to be a better team for having played Shelby on Friday,” Thompson said shortly after Monday’s practice. “It’s going to make us a better team in the long run.”

The Wolverines put the Shelby loss behind them on Monday, turning their focus to this Friday’s home opener against Asheville. The Cougars, 49-14 winners over Hendersonville in Week 1, arrive for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

By the numbers: Polk County offensive statistics | Polk County defensive statistics | Western Highlands Conference standings

Polk County received good news over the weekend in the condition of lineman Will Justice, who left the Shelby game in an ambulance after being hit during an interception return.

“It’s not serious,” Thompson said of Justice, who isn’t expected to face Asheville. Lineman Alex Leake will also miss the game, but senior Jordan Smith is expected to play. “He has some inflammation of nerves, and that’s got to go away before he can play.”

Polk County held a 6-3 lead over Shelby late in the first period when the Golden Lions began to score points in bunches. The Lions scored on the final play of the first period for a 10-6 lead, turned a blocked punt into a one-play, 12-yard touchdown drive and then drove 76 yards in seven plays for another score. Shelby then used a 49-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left in the half to take a 31-6 lead into the dressing room.

The Lions then opened the third period with a short field thanks to a solid kickoff return, starting the drive at the Polk 44. Shelby scored on a 33-yard R.J. George pass, then turned a blocked punt and interception into two more touchdowns.

“There was a five-minute span in the first half and another one in the second half where things kind of fell apart,” Thompson said. “You take those two five-minute clips away, and it was a decent ball game for us.

“They had two blocked punts and an interception for a touchdown. That’s 21 points. We worked on shoring up our punt team and fixing things there.”

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