Polk County’s celebration in the wake of Thursday’s volleyball win over A.C. Reynolds may have seemed a bit more muted than usual.
With good reason.
“I’m exhausted. They’re exhausted,” said head coach Molly Hill.
Again, with good reason.
The Wolverines faced three games in three nights last week, and not just any games – hosting an undefeated Rosman squad, a road trip to defending NCISAA 3A state champion Asheville Christian, back home to face A.C. Reynolds. In just the second week of the season, the trifecta figured to offer a good early-season challenge.
Polk passed the test with flying colors, sweeping Rosman, handing ACA a 3-1 setback and sweeping the Rockets, boosting Polk’s record to 5-0 entering Tuesday’s Mountain Foothills 7 Conference opener at Patton.
“I told them I was really proud of them,” Hill said. “I felt like we played great. There are still little things that we can fix and that we have to work on, but it’s all manageable, and it’s stuff that I’m confident that we can fix.”
The three-games-in-three-nights pace is one that Polk County will continue for the next two weeks. Included in those six matches will be tests against T.C. Roberson, Crest and West Henderson as well as three conference dates. By the end of those six games, on Sept. 7, Polk County will be halfway through its 2023 schedule.
The second half of the schedule is largely filled with MF7 matchups, including two highly-anticipated matches against Brevard. Gearing up for that is part of Hill’s logic in setting the first half of the Wolverines’ slate.
“I just feel like you play to your competition level,” Hill said. “When you play better teams and bigger teams, you’re going to rise to the occasion. I believe that to be true, and I like to challenge them on that.
“I’ve scheduled like this every year I’ve been here.”
Polk County’s football program is closing in on a scoring milestone.
Including Friday’s 29-23 setback against Tuscola, Polk County has now scored 9,929 points in the 402 games in the program’s history. That leaves the Wolverines just 71 points short of reaching 10,000.
Obviously, nothing more at stake there than a bit of trivia, but at present pace, Polk County should reach that five-figure number at some point in the game at Patton.
Wolverine teams have allowed 8,115 lifetime points.
There may have been no busier man in Polk County last week than Jason Nussbaum.
Polk’s athletic trainer endured a busy week dealing with the heat and humidity that plagued the area, especially when working with the Wolverine football program and its afternoon practices. But all of that paled to the effort put in for Friday night’s game against Tuscola, when temperatures reached almost 96 during the day and the Feels Like temperature soared past 110.
Nussbaum works at PCHS through St. Luke’s athletic training program; manager Jason Currin also attended Friday’s game, with Dr. George Azar on the sidelines to lend additional help. The group brought in extra resources such as a large cooling fan on the field and ice baths in the dressing room at halftime to help cool players’ core temperature.
The forecast for the week ahead calls for cooler days, which no doubt will come as a relief for Nussbaum.
Observant readers and fans may have noticed a new name and face authoring PolkSports articles.
Veteran sports writer Jed Blackwell is lending his talents to PolkSports. Jed will be helping cover games, but I’m most excited about the feature stories he’ll be writing. He is a master storyteller, and I look forward to having him put those skills to good use to help tell the stories of Polk County athletes.
Jed has covered high school sports in Upstate South Carolina for many years, most recently at the Herald-Journal in Spartanburg. He is currently Creative Content Director for Harrison’s, a clothing and football chain located throughout the Carolinas. Harrison’s – and Jed – recently launched a new website devoted to high school sports coverage in the Upstate, harrisonshuddle.com. Give it a try when you have a chance, and make sure to give Jed a warm Polk County welcome when you see him.
While Jed will be helping out PolkSports, there is no truth to the rumor that we’re also adding a new photographer.
Three closing thoughts:
- Defenses are naturally paying a lot of attention this season to Polk County senior Antonio Simpson, but senior Keaundrae Green showed Friday that he may be equally as dangerous. Green had six catches for 122 yards, one of those catches an impressive twisting grab deep in Tuscola territory. The Simpson-Green combination may be as good as any in the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference.
- The Polk County football record book lists the record for most field goals in a season at six and most in a career at eight. Billy Booker’s three field goals in Friday’s loss showed that he may be ready to erase both of those. Booker’s 30-yard kick would likely have been good from at least 10 more yards, and he is proving to be a quality scoring threat that head coach Dustin Fry.
- Looking forward to Thursday’s season opener for Polk County Middle’s football squad, which will host Waynesville Middle. That will actually be a repeat of the last game at Utz Field, the Mountaineers’ 38-16 win in the semifinals of the Blue Ridge Conference playoffs. Waynesville always fields a talented squad, so Thursday should be a good test for PCMS head coach Ethan Edwards and crew.