Josh Trejo has embraced a simple motto for Polk County’s pandemic-delayed 2020 boys soccer season.
Expect the unexpected.
One week into the season and it’s an approach that looks prophetic.
In the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s condensed approach to sports in the 2020-21 school year, boys soccer may well have drawn the shortest stick of any sport.
A sport that usually ends in mid-November, with the first hint of cool nights beginning to sneak into the air, now finds itself in the heart of winter; the Wolverines’ 2-2 tie Thursday with Smoky Mountain began and ended in blustery conditions with temperatures in the 30s.
Soccer is also wedged between basketball and football seasons, and that scheduling plus coronavirus concerns have no doubt led to a decline in participation at many schools. Polk County is not fielding a junior varsity team this season, which is still a better situation than that of Mitchell and Mountain Heritage, each of which will not have a varsity team. The four Western Highlands Conference schools with programs will face each other three times in the next few weeks to compensate for the absence of those two schools.
And there’s still, you know, that whole pandemic thing, which at any time could force games to be postponed or players to miss games.
Expect the unexpected? Every single day.
“I have discussed with the players that we have to take each game as if it could be our last, because of the quarantine regulations,” Trejo said. “We are not promised a season and we need to enjoy every second with no regrets.”
The first week largely was an enjoyable one for the Wolverines. Polk opened the season with a 10-1 thumping of Pisgah before salvaging the tie with Smoky Mountain on Luke Becker’s 30-yard-plus drive in the final minute. The Mustangs controlled the action much of the evening, but Polk’s defense kept the Wolverines in the game and Becker’s blast enabled the Wolverines to at least earn the tie.
Another test awaits Monday as Polk hosts Hendersonville. The Wolverines will then trek to Brevard on Wednesday before diving into the WHC’s round-robin schedule. Revised Polk County schedule
SPEAKING OF SOCCER: Polk County Middle opened its season with an overtime win over Apple Valley and a tough 1-0 setback against Hendersonville Middle.
The win over the Knights brought a truly unexpected moment as PCMS head coach Lennox Charles, normally as calm and reserved on the sidelines as any coach, celebrated Eno Baker’s match-winning goal with arms raised and a couple of leaping fist pumps.
Follow the link below to the video, watch for Charles in the lower part of the frame as Baker scores and enjoy.
WE’RE HALFWAY THERE: Polk County’s varsity girls and boys basketball teams have reached the halfway point of the 2020-21 Western Highlands Conference schedule.
Friday’s 68-44 loss at Mountain Heritage dropped the Polk boys into a three-way tie with Mitchell and Owen for second place in the WHC. That means some key games await the Wolverines over the next two weeks, especially the Feb. 12 trip to Mitchell that could well decide the WHC’s top 1A team and automatic playoff qualifier. At 4-2, Polk County also has a shot at its first winning season since the 2011-2012 campaign.
The Wolverine girls dropped to 1-4 with Friday’s 69-21 loss to Mountain Heritage. With Mitchell unbeaten in conference play, Polk County will likely need to focus on improving its playoff wild-card resume as much as possible over the next two weeks.
MEANWHILE: We’re about a week away from the Feb. 8 official start of football practice at Polk County High School and Polk County Middle School.
Boys tennis and girls golf, set to open their seasons in March, are the only usual fall sports that will have waited longer for their seasons to arrive.
The delayed 2020 football regular season officially begins on Thursday, Feb. 25 as Polk County Middle hosts Brevard Middle and Polk County’s junior varsity hosts Hendersonville. The varsity Wolverines travel Friday, Feb. 26 to Hendersonville for their season opener.