Wolverines looking for a fresh start as conference play begins
A fresh start.
While Polk County isn’t completely forgetting about its 1-5 non-conference record, the Wolverines are looking at Friday’s Western Highlands Conference opener against Owen as a new beginning, a five-week chance to resurrect their fortunes in the 2018 season.
The Warhorses visit G.M. Tennant Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, the third of Polk County’s four straight home games. At 1-4, Owen will also be looking to get its conference title hopes started in the right direction.
“The great thing about this week is that everybody is undefeated. Everybody is 0-0,” said Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis.
“Winning the conference is a big deal every year, and it’s something that is still an attainable goal. Certainly this game figures to be hugely important. The team that wins the Western Highlands Conference this year probably will not have a loss, so every week is important.”
Injuries have certainly been a factor in the Wolverines’ record to date, as has been the strength of Polk’s opponents – the first six foes have posted a combined 23-12 record thus far this season.
But Ollis doesn’t want the Wolverines to forgot about any of the five setbacks since the season-opening victory at Chase.
“We need to learn from it,” Ollis said. “As coaches, we have to figure out a way to get our players to play for 48 minutes. We have to understand that the nature of our team is that every play is the game, that we can’t take a play off.
“Our MO, going back to R-S Central, is playing awfully well in the first half and not as well in the second half on both sides of the ball. That’s something we’re trying to figure out.”
Solving that dilemma could prove key in stopping an Owen team also winless since its opener, a 34-7 victory over Enka. Much like Polk County, the Warhorses have faced a difficult non-conference road, their four losses coming to teams with a combined record of 19-6.
“They’re just like they always are,” Ollis said. “They’ll line up in a lot of formations and run off tackle and the sweep. They try to confuse you a little bit and make you defend a lot of things.
“They lined up and played straight up with Franklin last week for the first half (the Panthers pulled away for a 35-0 win). Their season has been a lot like ours. I’m sure Coach (Nathan) Padgett is telling his kids the same thing I’m telling mine this week.”
Sophomore Caleb Scott has taken over as the team’s starting quarterback, with senior Ty Davidson the heart of the Owen offense (49 carries, 231 yards, 2 TDs, 17 receptions, 119 yards). The Warhorses will be looking this week to break a string of eight straight scoreless quarters. Senior linebacker Otis Mallory (50 tackles, 11 tackles for loss) heads the Owen defense.
“We need to win. From a confidence standpoint, we need a victory,” Ollis said. “We’ve got to maintain focus and finish a game. We’re talented enough to win right now.”