Wolverines smother E. Henderson 47-17Published 10:54pm Saturday, September 21, 2013
Polk County football coach Bruce Ollis said early in the season the Wolverines were more a ball-control team, that might not perform lots of explosive plays.
On the second play after receiving the opening kickoff Friday evening, Wolvernies’ quarterback Reece Schlabach exploded downfield 69 yards for a touchdown, that led Polk to a 47-17 drubbing of visiting East Henderson.
In all, Schlabach scored four touchdowns, while Dante Posten, Jordan Smith and Anthony Carson added one each. After an 0-3 start, the Wolverines are 2-3. And, yes, they did control the ball well.
Polk ran the ball so well (287 yards on just 29 carries), that Schlabach’s four completions for a modest 47 meant that he didn’t need to depend on his right arm. Tanner threw just one pass, but it was good for 10 yards and a touchdown. Schlabach’s seven carries for 135 yards, led the rushing, but Smith added 68 yards, Posten 38, Tanner 24 (plus a big play– see later), Darden 17, and Marino five.
Ollis was spot on when he previewed the game, hoping that the Wolverines would gain momentum from the previous week’s win over Landrum, and carry that momentum forward.
“I think some of that (momentum) carried over,” Ollis said after the Wolverines destroyed the Eagles.
Polk gave the large crowd plenty to cheer about, including Jamal Tanner blocking an Eagle punt, scooping up the ball, and taking it to the East Henderson four. That led to Posten’s score from a yard out. Anthony Marino’s PAT kick made it 28-3, near the end of the second quarter.
Shortly after that, Carson took an East Henderson punt, reversed himself, and sprinted to the Eagles’ 22. That set up a touchdown by Schlabch on a keeper, and essentially put the game away, with Polk taking a 35-3 lead at the half.
“That (Polk) team in the first half was the team I knew existed,” said Ollis. “We had some above-average plays. Reece really ran the offense well. “We had a lot of weapons.”
Those weapons, include Tanner and Posten, sound after recovering from injuries. They, along with Smith, Matt Darden, Schlabach and Carson, made it a long night for the Eagles. Give credit, also, to Ollis’s brain trust of assistant coaches who excel at reading the opposition, and knowing the Wolverines’ strengths. As much coordination happens on the sidelines as on the field.
“I think we kept them off balance,” observed Ollis.
As always, though, players must execute, and Polk did that. Though giving up two touchdowns in the second half, Polk’s defense, otherwise smothered the Eagles, yielding just 107 yards on the ground, and nothing in the air.
After the Eagles’ Diego Juarez’s 32-yard field goal cut Polk’s lead to 8-3, the Wolverines got back to the business of scoring big. After Carson took the ensuing kickoff back to the Polk 37, he snared a Schlabach pass, and took the ball to the Eagles’ 43. Schlabach, who runs as well as he throws, eluded tacklers all the way to the Eagles’ five. Schlabach scored from the one, on a keeper, with 1:33 to go in the first quarter. The PAT kick made it 15-3.
Brutal defense by Polk forced the Eagles to punt on their next possession, with Carson once again taking the ball to the Wolverines’ 37. A Two plays later, Smith found and created lots of room, running the ball from his 40 to the Eagles’ 27. Schlabach hit Carson who took the ball to the 15. Posten took the ball to the five, after which, Schlabach scored on another keeper, with 6:09 left in the half. Marino’s kick made it 22-3.
Early in the second half, the two squads traded touchdowns twice. With 10:11 to go inthe third quarter, East Henderson’s quarterback, Aaron Moody scored on a keeper, followed by a successful kick, to make it 35-10. Just over two minutes later, Smith scored from a yard out, after taking the ball to the Eagles’ four.
With less than four minutes left in the third, Moody hit Jesse Rogers for another East Henderson TD. On that drive, penalties by Polk helped hardly hurt the Eagles.
This time, the Wolverines answered with Tanner’s long run, Smith’s carry to the East Henderson three, but the Eagles stopped Polk a half-yard short of scoring, and took over on downs, on the last play of the third quarter. Polk responded in kind, forcing the Eagles to punt poorly from their own five,and took over at the Eagles’ 23.
Darden took the ball to the ten, and shortly after, Carson leaped to snare a pass in the end zone, with 8:24 remaining in the game. That made it 47-17, where it stayed, after East Henderson made its second block of a Polk PAT attempt.
“Option football was awfully good to us tonight,” said Ollis. “We hit some home runs tonight,” he continued, noting that some Wolverine drives took only a few plays to score, where often, it takes over a dozen.
Playing three very talented opponents early in the season, “certainly helped us,” said Ollis. He noted that he scheduled those games not simply to help sharpen his players, but because he thought the Wolverines had a chance to win each of those match-ups.
“We built on last week’s win (at Landrum). This can catapult us into a really good conference season. We stayed the course again,” Ollis remarked. Reece is really playing well. He’s being a field general, but he’s also making big plays. One of those was on a nine-yard pass completion by the Eagles. The receiver had barely caught the ball, when the modestly-built (5’11”, 180-pound) Schlabach leveled him.
This Friday, the Wolverines host Madison, with a 7:30 start.
“We start our hunt for the Western Highlands Conference title Friday night,” said Ollis. Madison is in the WH Conference.