Polk football back on top, upending Avery in barnburner

Published 5:44 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Polk County Wolverines charge onto the field against the Avery Vikings Friday, Oct. 7. The Wolverines went on to beat the Vikings 51-31. (photo by Fulton Hampton)

In the sort of wild and woolly shootout one would expect between two highly prolific offenses, the Polk County Wolverines upended the Avery Vikings Friday night, 51-31. The game, played in front of a large homecoming crowd in Newland, was a thoroughly entertaining affair that featured nine lead changes and a combined 11 touchdowns.
Polk County marked first, drilling a field goal from 25 yards out to put the Wolverines up by three. For the remainder of the first half, the teams traded touchdowns and lead changes.
The battle reached a crescendo in the waning moments of the first half as Polk scored on a screen pass to Cary Littlejohn to go up by 17-14 with just 14 seconds left.
Polk lost that lead 11 seconds later, however, as Avery scored on the final play of the half on a touchdown pass by Alex Villanueva that sent the stunned Wolverines into the visitor’s locker room trailing 21-17.
The extended homecoming halftime gave head coach Bruce Ollis’ team ample time to stew over the situation.
“I’ll say this – for the first time in this season, I felt like our players felt a sense of urgency going into the second half,” said Ollis.
The teams continued to trade body blows, ending the third quarter deadlocked at 31 apiece, but from then on, it was all Polk County, as the Wolverines reeled off 20 unanswered points to notch the key conference victory.
“I felt like, particularly in the fourth quarter, we developed what I like to call a ‘competitive maturity,’” said Ollis.
QB Alec Philpott completed seven passes for 245 yards and rushed for 76 more, including a 42-yard TD run. Cary Littlejohn ran 15 times for 109 yards and four TDs, and added a 36-yard TD reception as well.
Tyler Ridings added a 25-yard rushing TD, and Joel Booker, who was sidelined against Mitchell with an ankle injury, roared back with a vengeance, notching seven catches for 209 yards and earning glowing praise from Ollis.
“Joel showed leadership on and off the field – he was verbal, and he played like a champion,” Ollis said.
With the victory, the Wolverines improve to 6-2 overall, and are now 3-1 in conference competition, a record good enough to propel the team back into first place in the Western Highlands Conference.
Polk has quite a bit of company at the top, however, as a Mitchell victory over previously unbeaten Hendersonville, coupled with an Owen win over Madison, has created an interesting four-way deadlock at the top of the heap in the WHC.
“It’s pretty amazing,” remarked Ollis. “Having four teams in the conference with 3-1 records – I don’t know that it has ever been knotted this tight with just three games to play, so everybody’s still alive.”
This Friday, the Wolverines return home to the Little Big House to lock horns with the winless Gryphons of Thomas Jefferson, as Polk celebrates its homecoming week with a full slate of events beginning with the Wolverine festival.
Check this Thursday’s edition of the Bulletin for a complete schedule of all homecoming activities.

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