Wolverines pummel Madison 45-13 in first round of playoffsPublished 10:44pm Monday, November 18, 2013
by Mark Schmerling
The Wolverines demolished Madison, 45-13, in the first round of North Carolina High School football playoff action, Friday, Nov. 15 in Columbus.
“That’s one, boys,” Polk County head football coach Bruce Ollis told his players after the defeat.
This Friday, Nov. 22 the Wolverines (9-3) visit the Reidsville Rams (10-2), who defeated Hendersonville, 50-20, last week.
“Rhino” is Ollis’ term for the Wolverines’ rugged goal-line defense. Facing Madison, whom Polk defeated, 21-7, in regular-season play, the Wolverines proved the adage that chance favors the prepared mind.
Ahead 45-6 in the fourth quarter, on a wet field, the Wolverines were forced to punt. In situations where a wet ball might result in a high snap, Polk often uses a back-up punter, just in case. Here, the snap was good, but a Madison player blocked Reece Schlabach’s punt. The ball bounced off the Patriot’s defender, into the waiting arms of back-up punter, Jordan Smith, who is second on the team in rushing yards this season. Smith blazed downfield to the Madison 38. Though the Wolverines were unable to score, they used more of the clock.
“It may have been the best use of two punters I’ve ever seen in my career,” said Ollis after the game. He said no one could script that startling scenario, but in this case, it was poetry in motion.
With light rain falling to begin the game, the Wolverines scored early and often. Following his two long runs, Jamal Tanner scored with just 1:43 gone in the game. After an unsuccessful PAT attempt, the Wolverines led 6-0 and were just warming up.
“This was a team victory,” said Ollis, who added, “We did so many things well in the first half.
One thing the Wolverines exhibited little of was their option game, because, as Ollis said, “Our power game was so good.”
That team play led to Schlabach’s 10-yard keeper, with 3:24 left in the first quarter. After the PAT, Polk led 13-0.
Early in the second quarter, the Wolverines took over at their own 7, where “Rhino” stopped Madison on downs. After substantial gains by Schlabach and Tanner, Smith scored Polk’s third touchdown from midfield. The PAT kick made it 20-0.
Less than one minute later, Polk’s J.C. Suddeth recovered a Madison fumble. On the next play, Tanner broke away for his second TD run of the night, with 4:19 left in the second quarter. The kick was good; Polk led 27-0; and the Wolverines were well on their way to victory.
“We took advantage of almost every (Madison) mistake,” Ollis said. “We are really playing well up front.”
The Wolverines needed to contain the Patriots’ running back, Tyler Hoffman, who came into Friday’s game with more than 2,400 yards on the ground.
Hoffman enjoyed a good game, scoring both of Madison’s touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but once again, Polk kept him from breaking the game open.
Friday’s punishment of Madison continued with Schlabach scoring from just outside the end zone, with 27 seconds remaining in the first half. The kick was off, but Polk led 33-0, a comfortable lead to take into intermission. Polk’s kickoff bounced off a Madison player, with Jason Chupp recovering for Polk. On the next play, Schlabach passed to Tanner, who took the ball in for yet another touchdown. At the half, Polk led 39-0.
Polk kicked to Madison to begin the second half, and immediately thwarted the guests’ plans to score. Tyrone Miller intercepted a Patriots’ pass. Shortly after, Schlabach carried the ball in for his third touchdown of the night, and Polk’s final score.
“We’re running on all cylinders,” Ollis said. “We’ll probably have to do that again next (this week).”
Game time at Reidsville this Friday, Nov. 22 is 7:30 p.m. Playoff format means the Wolverines might not be home for a while.
“Playoffs are all about advancing,” Ollis said.