Wolverines pounce Madison, final score 41-14

Published 11:28 pm Monday, September 29, 2014

Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith

By Mark Schmerling

By Mark Schmerling

In Madison County and nearby communities, residents caution elected officials, “Don’t poke the bear!” At Madison County High School Friday night, someone poked the Wolverines, who responded with a 41-14 win in their first Western Highlands Conference football game of the season.

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Making adjustments and bearing down hard on defense, gave the Wolverines a big win. Polk is now 4-2 overall, having won four in a row.

Admittedly, Coach Jamie Thompson’s Wolverines probably would have gone home with a win, regardless of circumstances. However, in a game, where a coach (In this case Thompson) received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for yelling that a prior officiating call was “terrible,” and where a Madison player said something apparently unkind to a Polk player, one might wonder if Polk had a bit more incentive than usual to outscore the opposition.

Thompson, the individual Polk player and the team all enjoyed the last laugh, while simply playing football and ignoring the distractions. No one scored until near the end of the first quarter, when, with seven seconds remaining, Wolverine quarterback Jamal Tanner hit pay dirt on a keeper. The PAT was good, and Polk led 7-0.

Shortly after the Patriots took Polk’s kickoff, the Wolverines’ appropriately-named Storm Wheeler leaped and intercepted a pass at the Madison 36. The Wolverines lost a chance to score, when Madison recovered a Polk fumble at the hosts’ 31. Not long after Wheeler left the game hurt, forcing Thompson to make adjustments. “Losing Storm early, hurt,” Thompson admitted. Wheeler’s status is not known at this time.

Polk and Madison traded punts; then Polk held Madison in check once more. Jamal Wheeler took the Patriot punt back to the Wolverine 47. Once again, Polk did not advance far, and Jordan Smith punted again, the untouched ball stopping at the Madison five.

Madison reached its 11, when running back Mason Edwards broke free down the left sideline, outran all pursuers, and scored with 2:50 remaining in the half.

The oddities began with officials twice charging Polk with roughing the kicker on the PAT attempt. Madison eventually ran for a two-point conversion, to earn the Patriots’ only lead of the night, 8-7.

A bouncing kickoff by Madison put the ball at the Polk 32, setting up Jamal Wheeler’s 50-yard burn to the Patriot 18. However, a holding call against the Wolverines took the ball back to the Polk 32. Jamal Wheeler gained three on a keeper, then kept the ball again for a first down near midfield.

Khiree Green, who saved his biggest play of the night for later, warmed up with a 13-yard carry. A short pass to Jordan Smith, followed by Smith’s long run took the ball to the Madison 13, and a late hit penalty against the Patriots (after a defender had forced Smith out of bounds), put the ball on the three.

With 42 seconds left in the half Jamal Wheeler scored from about a yard out. Wheeler’s pass to Tanner Garrett was good for two points, and the Wolverines led for good, at 15-8.


Madison took Polk’s kickoff, but did not enjoy a long possession. With about 21 seconds left in the half, Jamal Wheeler became Polk’s second Wheeler of the game to intercept a Patriot pass. Polk was unable to advance far in the remaining seconds, but held the ball and the lead.

Madison’s bounding kickoff to start the second half gave Polk the ball at its 32. From there, Jordan Smith gave a lesson in speed, determination and tackle-breaking, as he dashed 68 yards for another Wolverine score. A good PAT gave Polk a 22-8 lead.

Smith’s engine had lots of miles remaining, and officials’ flags were about to fill the air like falling leaves.

Once again, Polk’s stingy defense forced the hosts to punt, this one going out of bounds at the Wolverine ten. After Smith carried the ball to the 21, he took a handoff, galloped far downfield, and appeared touchdown-bound, before a speedy defender caught and tackled him at the Madison three.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Polk took the ball back to Madison’s 18.
After another carry by Khiree Green, a Madison player made a remark to Green that caught the latter’s attention. Green, who was not happy with the remark, allowed his teammates to steer him away from the Madison player, a wise move, as the officials assessed Madison with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

With Polk holding the ball at the Madison six, Jamal Wheeler tried to advance on a keeper, but officials called holding against Polk, taking the ball back to Madison’s 17. However, a personal foul against Madison gave the Wolverines the ball on about the three and one-half. From there, Jamal Wheeler found an opening and scored on a keeper, with just over six minutes to go in the third quarter.

Polk led, 28-8, and it held there when the PAT attempt bounced off a post.

Another sequence followed of a Polk kickoff and a Madison punt. This time, Madison held Polk, and Smith punted to the hosts. Madison’s possession was interrupted by a fumble, which Green picked up and returned some 40 yards for another Polk score, near the end of the third quarter. The PAT attempt was no good, but Polk led, 34-8, with just over 12 minutes remaining.

Once again Polk kicked off, and once again, the Wolverines’ defense forced a Madison punt. This punt, very short and not very high, took a Polk bounce, and gave the Wolverines the ball at the Madison 27, with 12 seconds left in the third quarter.

A roughing-the-passer penalty, and Jamal Wheeler’s carry, took the ball to the hosts’ three, for a first and goal. Smith muscled the ball a yard forward, and Jamal Wheeler followed with another score on a keeper, with just over ten minutes to go in the game. Davis Derkach’s PAT kick was good; Polk led 41-8.

That could have ended the scoring, but Madison played gamely, stubbornly grinding out yardage, after the Patriots started their drive at their 39 on Polk’s kickoff.

A short touchdown pass by Madison, and an off-target PAT attempt left the score at 41-14, Polk, where it stayed.


Thompson wore a well-earned smile after the game. Complimenting his players on making adjustments, and that “We played defense great, he told them, “We owned it tonight, didn’t we?” Thompson also cautioned them, “We can’t skip a beat.” Against a larger Madison team (Polk had the edge in speed) that “came out tough, and played hard,” Thompson said “We persevered.”

This Friday, Polk hosts Mountain Heritage, another WHC opponent, in Polk County Youth Football Night. Opening kickoff is set for 7:30.