Polk Wolverines fall short against R-S Central

Published 11:04 pm Monday, September 9, 2013

Polk’s No. 9 Bryce Martin tries to tackle an R-S Central runner. See more photos at www.tryondailybulletin.com. (photo by Mark Schmerling)

Polk’s No. 9 Bryce Martin tries to tackle an R-S Central runner. See more photos at www.tryondailybulletin.com. (photo by Mark Schmerling)

Polk County scored 33 points, and reeled off several explosive gains, but the Wolverines couldn’t stop the rushing attack of R-S Central, in a frustrating 42-33 loss Friday, Sept. 6.

It might have been R-S turning loose too many players named Whitesides (Rashaun and Desmond), who made big plays along with Matt Atchley. But it also didn’t help that several Polk starters sat out injured. Three Wolverine turnovers in the first half, also helped turn a potential lead into a 21-7 deficit at halftime.

PCHS Coach Bruce Ollis said he fully believes his team will eventually show the benefits of facing tough opponents early on in the season.

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“We showed some big play capability tonight,” said Wolverines’ head coach Bruce Ollis.

One of those big plays came on a long first-quarter pass from Reece Schlabach to Anthony Carson, the latter fighting all the way to the Hilltoppers’ 5-yard line, setting up a touchdown carry by Jordan Smith. That score, plus Anthony Marino’s PAT kick, tied the game at 7. After Polk elected to kick off to start the contest, R-S drove down the field, striking first, with 7:40 to go in the first quarter, on a touchdown carry by Rashaun Whitesides.

In all, Schlabach completed 12 of 17 passes for 296 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Carson snagged eight of those passes for 146 yards and a touchdown, while Smith caught three deliveries for 140 yards and one score. Schlabach, who can and does run, rushed for only 25 yards on 12 carries, but brought the crowd to its feet with an eye-popping kickoff return early in the second half.

One of Polk’s turnovers helped R-S take the lead for good in the second quarter. Shortly after Schlabach carried the ball to the Hilltoppers’ 49 for a first down, R-S recovered a fumble, and took over on its 46. Rashaun Whitesides then charged down to Polk’s 25 to set up runs by Atchley for a first down and then a touchdown, giving R-S a 14-7 lead, with 4:45 left in the first half. Shortly afterward R-S picked up another fumble at Polk’s 32, with Desmond Whitesides carrying the ball in from the two with 3:07 remaining. Polk had time to operate, but after Desmond Whitesides picked off one of Schlabach’s passes, R-S held the ball until the half ended.

Early in the third quarter, after R-S added another score, Schlabach connected with Smith, who ran the rest of the way for a touchdown. A missed PAT attempt left the score, 28-13 and the offensive battle continued.

After the game, Ollis found lots of positives in his players, one of those being their refusal to give in. Right after R-S’ fourth TD, Schlabach showed that determination, taking the Hilltoppers’ kickoff all the way back to the R-S 8 yard line. Another example was that Polk’s defense stopped many R-S running plays for little or no gain, even when the Wolverines trailed in the game.

“We just never could stop them. We couldn’t get off the field on defense. We’ve got to get better on defense. (But) we battled. We’re still playing hard,” Ollis said.

Ollis knows that performance is a product of input, challenges and intangibles.

“I think we’re going to be up to the challenge,” he said after the game. “I know that if these young men hang in there, the worm is going to turn. I really believe in this football team will be good when all is said and done. As the head football coach, I believe in them.”

The Wolverines travel to rival Landrum this Friday, Sept. 13 to again try for that first season win. Game time is 7:30 p.m.