It’s been a week for reflection around Polk County’s fieldhouse.
In the wake of last week’s 33-0 loss to Mitchell, just the program’s third shutout in the past 17 years and a loss that knocked the Wolverines out of a shot at Western Highlands Conference title, head coach Bruce Ollis spent some eight hours reviewing film of the game, carefully observing every play. And doing a lot of thinking both before and after his film session.
“As a head football coach, you do a lot of reflection when you get your butt cut. And that’s what happened to us,” Ollis said. “We’ve got a slogan we’ve had, FIDO (forget it and drive on). This week’s it’s been RIDO, remember it and drive on. We need to remember how we were playing when we were 6-0, 7-0. . . Three games in a row, we haven’t played like we’re capable, and we’re 1-2 in those games.
“When you don’t execute well and you don’t play up to your standards, that can happen.”
Polk County will look to rebound Friday in its regular-season finale, though a challenge awaits as the Wolverines trek to Mountain Heritage. The game, with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, will be shown on WMYA-TV, Polk County’s second TV appearance of the season.
In the Wolverines’ scouting report this week, Ollis included a passage from Bulgarian philosopher Omram Mikhael Aivanhov. Part of that note read, “The past is past but it has given birth to the present, and the present contains the roots of the future. This means that you must build your future in advance by improving your present.”
Taking care of the present has been Polk’s priority this week. Ollis knows a very good football team awaits in Burnsville, with Mountain Heritage (8-1, 4-0) undefeated in conference play since 2016. The Cougars have been especially impressive defensively, allowing only Brevard and Owen to score 10 or more points, while relying on their always-sound running game on offense.
Polk has prepared for Mountain Heritage, but has worked as much on its own issues.
“Our major focus is the Wolverines,” Ollis said. “Our major focus is what are we doing in-house. We told the players, what are you going to do about it? Taking ownership is a huge deal. We need to play like our hair’s on fire.
“We can’t win the Western Highlands Conference championship but this is still the most important game we’ve played because it’s our next game.”
Mountain Heritage is led offensively by senior Cole Shehan, both the team’s leading rusher (102-634-5) and receiver (16-289-6). Senior Callin Randolph runs an offense from his quarterback slot that has four players with at least 50 carries.
The Cougars have allowed just 58 points in nine games, the defense led by senior Bailey Johnson (92 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, seven sacks) and junior Kason Hall (93 tackles, six TFL). It’s a unit that will pose a challenge for a Polk County offense looking to bounce back from its lowest output of the season.
The Wolverines (8-2, 2-2) have flipped their won-loss record from last season’s regular-season finale, when Polk trekked to Madison with a 2-8 mark. Ollis hopes they can similarly turn their fortunes from last week to this one.
“I’ve told the players that we’re going to take responsibility for the losses as coaches, now you’ve got to take ownership of your play,” he said. “We’ve got to improve. We’ve just got to play better.
“I guaran-dadgum-tee you that you’re going to see a better team in Burnsville.”