The formula that Polk County has followed in its eight wins this season suited Mitchell just fine Friday night.
The Mountaineers dominated the line of scrimmage both offensively and defensively, setting the tone for a 33-0 Western Highlands Conference victory over the Wolverines in G.M. Tennant Stadium.
Mitchell (9-1, 3-1) held Polk County (8-2, 2-2) to a season-low 74 yards rushing and handed the Wolverines their first shutout since Oct. 31, 2014, a span of 65 games. Perhaps even more remarkably, it’s just the third time since November 2002 that the Wolverines have failed to score.
The Mountaineers, who secured the WHC’s top 1A seed for the upcoming state playoffs, also rushed for 239 yards, the most Polk County has allowed this season.
“For the first time all year, we got knocked around a little bit up front,” said Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis. “That’s where we’ve won our games. We’ve been awfully good up there.
“(Mitchell) is a great football team that played awfully well. We had our chances. We gave up two big plays in the first half, then we’re going to stop them and gave up a play on third down or they have to kick a field goal. We had a couple of opportunities offensively if we execute a little better to score, but we never really drove the ball.”
Mitchell took the opening kickoff and drove 82 yards, keeping the ball for almost seven minutes. Noah Pitman, who finished with 197 yards on 20 carries, broke a 42-yard run to move the Mountaineers into the red zone, then scored from the four. Elliot Kadens added the point after to give Mitchell a 7-0 advantage.
The Mountaineers extended the lead late in the second quarter. A Pitman 48-yard run moved Mitchell to the Polk 4, but a pair of penalties left the Mountaineers facing 3rd-and-goal at the 15. Noah Pitman found Ty Pitman racing up the left sideline open near the goal line, and the 15-yard touchdown strike and Kaden’s extra point upped the lead to 14-0 at the break.
Pitman added a 22-yard scoring run in the third period, capping another 82-yard scoring drive, before Carter Hoyle capped a short drive late in the fourth period with a 7-yard scoring run. Caius Peterson returned an interception for a score with 2:56 remaining in the game for the Mountaineers’ final points.
Though Polk County moved the ball at times, the Wolverines could never generate a sustained drive, their best effort coming at the start of the third period. Polk held the ball for more than six minutes, but a key chop block penalty helped stymie the possession, which ended in a punt.
The Wolverines had punted just 10 times for the season entering the game. They kicked seven Friday night.
“Our defense was solid,” said Mitchell head coach Travise Pitman. “They flowed to the football. We knew we had to take away their fullback dives and the belly and their counters. I thought our kids upfront played well.”
In its final home game of the regular season, Polk County recognized its seniors before the game. The Wolverines also honored state tennis champion Ryan Heider at halftime and brought back players and coaches from the 1989 Polk County team, the first in school history.
“It’s always disappointing as a coach when your seniors don’t win their Senior Night,” Ollis said. “That doesn’t mean we’re any less proud of them.
“I told our players tonight we love them, and to a man we’re going to get better. We’ll learn from our mistakes.”
Polk County travels to Mountain Heritage next week to end the regular season.
Mitchell 7 7 6 13 — 33
Polk County 0 0 0 0 — 0
M – Noah Pitman 4 run (Elliot Kadans kick), 5:10
M – Ty Pitman 15 pass from Noah Pitman (Kadens kick), 3:10
M – Noah Pitman 22 run (kick failed), 4:02
M – Carter Hoyle 7 run (kick failed), 4:16
M – Caius Peterson 29 interception return (Kadens kick), 2:56
M – Noah Pitman 20-197, Tanner Duncan 7-18, Logan Hudgins 2-12, Carter Hoyle 1-7, Ty Sparks 1-5. PC – Bryce Jergenson 14-22, Cameron Blackwell 4-21, Lukas Tipton 6-19, Angus Weaver 5-11, Shane Parris 1-5, Gage McSwain 3-4, Jordan Bishop 2-(-2), Nate Henderson 1-(-6).
M – Noah Pitman 3-7-31-1. PC – Bryce Jergenson 1-7-6-1.
M – Tyler McKinney 2-16, Ty Pitman 1-15. PC – Chase McSwain 1-6.