Polk shuts out East Henderson; goes over .500

Published 11:22 pm Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jordan Smith, shown here, running the ball for Polk County, enjoyed yet another big game, this against East Henderson, on Friday. Smith ran for one touchdown, set up another with a 39-yard run, made numerous tackles, and remained an effective punter.

Jordan Smith, shown here, running the ball for Polk County, enjoyed yet another big game, this against East Henderson, on Friday. Smith ran for one touchdown, set up another with a 39-yard run, made numerous tackles, and remained an effective punter.

It’s debatable exactly which play by Polk County drove the nail into East Henderson in the Wolverines’ 34-0 football win at East Flat Rock on Friday night. Several could be considered.

Was it when Polk’s Storm Wheeler (Only a sophomore) burst up the right side, and scored from the Eagles’ seven after teammate Jordan Smith’s 39-yard run on the previous play, giving the Wolverines a 6-0 lead with about six minutes to go in the first quarter?

Was it when Polk’s place kicker Davis Derkach tackled East Henderson’s Austin Fisher, after Fisher was one-tackle away from returning Derkach’s kickoff for a game-tying touchdown, just after Wheeler scored? East Henderson had a first and ten at Polk’s 26, but never scored on that possession. Credit Polk’s unrelenting defense, which included someone blocking the Eagles’ field goal attempt.

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Was the deciding moment when the Wolverines’ Damien Jackson recovered an Eagles’ fumble? Or, did it happen when Jamal Wheeler passed long to Tanner Garrett, who caught the ball at the Eagles’ three, and bulled into the end zone for the Wolverines’ second TD? That play took place with about 7:30 to go in the half.

Polk had other moments like that, but the Eagles (0-4), who never gave up appeared to be outmatched. Regardless, Polk won its third straight, to go above .500 (3-2). Conference play for the Wolverines begins this Friday, at Madison County High School, with opening kickoff set for 7:30.

“It’s great, three in a row,” Polk coach Jamie Thompson told his players after the game. We all know how easy it is to be conference champions, when you win every conference game (As Polk did last year, going 6-0 in Western Highlands Conference games).”

After Polk’s first score, the Wolverines missed a two-point conversion attempt (Jamal Wheeler came up just short on a keeper), but after the second, Derkach made the PAT, and Polk led, 13-0.

Following Polk’s second score, Derkach’s squib kickoff gave the Eagles possession at their own 42, but they could do little damage, and Polk took over on downs at its 38. Polk appeared to take the ball to the hosts’ 24, on a pass completion to Storm Wheeler, but a penalty took the ball back to East’s 48, and the Wolverines eventually punted from East’s 36 on a fourth and 21.

Jordan Smith’s punt carried into the Eagles’ end zone, and East took over at its 20. The Eagles advanced to their own 37 before coughing up the ball, which Polk recovered once more, with the clock nearly running out in the first half.

Jamal Wheeler hit Storm Wheeler deep to give Polk a first and goal at the East nine, but an incomplete pass was all Polk could muster before the half ended. Score at the half was Polk 13, East Henderson 0.

If the Wolverines hadn’t driven the last nail into the coffin by now, they did it shortly after taking the Eagles’ kickoff to start the third quarter.

The Eagles’ booming kick went onto Polk’s end zone, giving the Wolverines the ball at their own 20.

Jordan Smith carried to the 28, and then to the Polk 40 for a first down. Storm Wheeler gained four more tough yards, then Jamal Wheeler got the blocks he needed, and tore off a 56-yard touchdown run, leaving everyone behind, with just over ten minutes left in the third quarter. The Eagles blocked Derkach’s PAT attempt, but Polk led, 19-0.

After taking Polk’s kickoff, the Eagles, aided by a penalty against Polk, drove to the Wolverine 19, before the Wolverines recovered yet another fumble, this time at their own 23.


A Jordan Smith carry and a penalty against the Eagles put the ball on Polk’s 38. Storm Wheeler carried for a first down to the Eagles’ 49 and after Jamal Wheeler’s pass was broken up Jamal Wheeler reached East’s 25 for a first and ten on a keeper.

Then, with about a minute and a half remaining in the third quarter Smith romped for another Polk TD. Were the Wolverines going for a one-point kick? It looked that way, but Jamal Wheeler kept the ball and hit the end zone running, for two points, to make it 27-0, Wolverines.

That was the score with one quarter to go.

Early in the fourth quarter, Jamal Wheeler left the game with a sore knee, about which, more will be known later this week.

On East’s next possession (Following a Wolverine punt), the Eagles drove to the Polk 47 before turning the ball over on downs. Tanner Garrett had taken over as Polk’s quarterback.

Polk was unable to move the ball far but, after punting to East,  got it back shortly afterward when Jason Chupp intercepted an Eagle pass and ran it in about 27 yards for a touchdown. Derkach made the PAT, and the scoring was over with Polk leading, 34-0, and moments away from its first shutout of the season.

“Don’t rest on your laurels,” Thompson cautioned his players after the game, wit their next six contests all against conference opponents. “We bent, he noted of the Wolverines’ focused defense, “but we didn’t break. We played well on offense.” Thompson noted that his players adjusted to changes in East’s offense.

Most of all, “We didn’t give up the big play,” he remarked. “Storm did a good job tonight. Jordan Smith was huge tonight. I’m proud of the guys. We had a game plan and they carried it out.”

Polk’s next opponent, Madison County, did not play last Friday. Instead the Patriots had another week to plan on avenging their 55-6 loss to Erwin on Sept. 12.

Opening kickoff is 7:30, in Marshall.