Polk County's Clint Deyton (22) leads the Wolverines onto the field for the season opener at Hendersonville (Jane Ollis photo)

Wolverines hope to put lessons of loss to good use in home opener

Polk County head football coach Bruce Ollis called Saturday’s season-opening loss at Hendersonville a “learning experience” for his young Wolverines.

He hopes Friday evening to see that lesson put to good use.

The Wolverines are set to make their home debut against East Rutherford, kickoff set for 7 p.m. in G.M. Tennant Stadium. Polk will be allowed to sell tickets for up to 30 percent of Tennant capacity, with those available until 5 p.m. on Friday through GoFan.co. A limited number of tickets may also be sold at the game – that will be announced Friday afternoon on PolkSports’ social media channels.

The game will also be streamed live on the NFHS Network.

Polk County will be looking to rebound from its 35-27 loss at Hendersonville, a game in which the Wolverines twice led before allowing the Bearcats to rally and eventually claim the win.

“We really didn’t play well enough to win, but we had an opportunity to win,” Ollis said. “On both sides of the ball, there were times when we had seven of the 11 players on the field playing in their first varsity game.

“Overall, it was a positive experience for us. Hendersonville has a talented team, and we lined up and played toe to toe with them. The thing I liked most was that our kids were really despondent after losing. They expected to win, and that’s a good thing.”

In preparing for East Rutherford (0-1), Polk has stressed this week the importance of stopping the Cavalier offense on third and fourth downs, an area that plagued the Wolverines in Saturday’s loss.

“We really did not play poorly on defense, we just did not get off the field on third and fourth down,” Ollis said. “First and second down were not a problem for us. So our rallying cry this week has been get off the field.”

The Wolverines will face an East Rutherford team coming off a 47-0 loss to R-S Central. It marked the debut of head coach Brint Russell, who is looking to rebuild a Cavalier program that finished 1-10 last seasoh, including a 35-19 loss to Polk.

“Traditionally, they’re always a team that is very good,” Ollis said. “The first half last week was a pretty close game. R-S blew it open in the second half.

“They’ve implemented a new offense, a pistol Wing-T, so they’re a lot like us in that they’re in the maturation stage with a new offense. We respect that football program and the new head coach has a Crest pedigree, and he will do good things with that program.”

Sophomore running back Marqies McCombs and senior quarterback Alex Moore received the bulk of carries last week, with McCombs rushing 16 times for 43 yards. East struggled to run as did Polk in its loss, another focal point in preparations this week for the Wolverines.

“We need to run the ball much better. That’s still a big part of what we do,” Ollis said. “We need to run the ball and control the clock. We didn’t keep the ball away enough from the Bearcats.”