Wolverines plow over the Mountaineers 40-14

Published 11:37 pm Monday, October 13, 2014


By Mark Schmerling

Mitchell County High School is not an easy place to play football. On Friday, clouds and the threat of rain added to the potential challenge, but when Polk County’s Wolverines left the field, they’d scored 27 unanswered points on the way to a 40-14 win.

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With its sixth consecutive win, Polk is now 6-2 overall, the Wolverines upping their Western Highlands Conference record to 3-0.

As has been the case this season, so many players contributed to the win. Quarterback Jamal Wheeler hit Jason Chupp for six passes, good for 184 yards and four touchdowns. The last strike, from 37 yards out ended the scoring.

Jordan Smith ran for 98 yards, including two touchdowns, and also made 16 tackles raising his team-leading total to 83. D .J. Twitty, Damien Jackson and Fred Salerno snuffed out attempt after attempt by the much-improved Mountaineers, who played tough all night, and who led 14-13 early. Jamal Wheeler and Dequan Gary intercepted Mitchell passes.

“I told you we would have some fun, and we did,” Wolverines’ coach Jamie
Thompson told his players after the game. “That’s six in a row,” Thompson continued. “That’s called a hot streak.”

Polk won the coin toss, and elected to kick off to Mitchell to begin the game.  Shortly after Twitty’s touchdown-saving tackle to stop a Mountaineer ball carrier at the Polk 43, Polk recovered a fumble at its 41, but Mitchell’s defense forced a punt.

A long run took Mitchell to the Polk 24, but when the Mountaineers went for it on a fourth and eight, the Wolverines stopped them cold, and took over on downs at the Polk 25.

From there, Jamal Wheeler tore 51 yards downfield on a keeper. With 3:57 remaining in the first quarter, Wheeler tossed the first of his four TD passes to Chupp. Davis Derkach’s kick was good, and Polk led 7-0.

That lead held up only as long as it took for Polk’s ensuing kickoff to land in Tre Carson’s hands, as Carson outran all would-be tacklers, for a Mountaineer touchdown.  The hosts’ two-point conversion attempt was good, and Mitchell led, 8-7.

After receiving Mitchell’s kickoff, Polk faced a fired-up Mountaineer defense, and was forced to punt. This time, Derkach punted, as Smith had left the field shaken up (Smith returned to action shortly afterward).  Derkach’s punt went to the Mitchell 16.  Mitchell got nine yards farther before punting on a fourth and one.

By now, it was the second quarter, and a confident Mitchell team took over on downs at Polk’s 37. Moments later, however, the Mountaineers lost another fumble, this recovered by Chupp. With 8:29 left in the half, the ball once more found its way into Chupp’s hands, this via a 65-yard pass play from Jamal Wheeler. Polk players felt they had made the two-point conversion, but the officials said no, and Polk had to settle for a 13-8 lead. Those two points would eventually go to Polk, but not on a routine play.

Polk’s kickoff, an onsides bouncer did not have the desired affect. It was Mitchell’s ball at the Polk 46.

Mitchell drove to the Polk 35 for a first down then missed a long pass. However, Tre Carson scored his and Mitchell’s second and last touchdown on the night, when he caught a short pass, got the blocking he needed and sprinted into the end zone. Mitchell’s two-point attempt, another pass, was incomplete. Save for that touchdown, Polk’s defense was nearly perfect.

Jordan Smith took the Mountaineers’ kickoff clear down to the hosts’ 37.  One-yard gains by Jamal Wheeler and Storm Wheeler, followed by an incomplete pass, made it fourth and eight for Polk. A Jamal Wheeler keeper was good for a first down at the Mitchell 25. A few plays later, Jamal Wheeler hit Dequan Gary for a 10-yard gain to the Mitchell six. Wheeler then kept the ball for two yards and a first and goal at the Mountaineer four.

Smith then scored. The PAT was not good, but Polk had moved ahead to stay, at 19-14.

With only seconds left in the half, Mitchell punted to Polk. Moments later, Jamal Wheeler, running the ball was forced out of bounds, and hit hard, bringing a personal foul against a Mitchell player. Wheeler would complete another pass to Chupp, but not for a score, and the half was over with Polk leading, 19-14.

In the second half, Polk’s defense continued to wear down the Mountaineers. Twitty sacked the quarterback; Bryce Martin broke up a pass and Mitchell punted a boomer that landed in the Polk end zone. It was Polk’s ball at its 20. Jordan Smith took a handoff and blasted downfield 80 yards for his second TD of the evening. An incomplete pass on another two-point conversion attempt was incomplete, but Polk now led, 25-14.

After the game, Thompson admitted, “That first half, we had to battle,” noting of Mitchell (now 4-3 overall and 0-2 in WHC play), “They’ve improved their program. They’re big up front. We had to make adjustments.”

Those adjustments enabled Polk to build a substantial lead through the second half.

Though the Wolverines were forced to punt later, they made the most of it, beginning with the punt bouncing to the Mitchell six. Eventually, with Mitchell unable to penetrate an inspired Polk defense, the Mountaineer quarterback was flagged for intentional grounding, the penalty taking the ball into the home end zone for a safety and two points for Polk. That put Polk ahead, 27-14, with Mitchell kicking off to the Wolverines.

The kick gave Polk the ball near midfield. After Storm Wheeler’s first-down run, Jamal Wheeler hit Chupp for the duo’s third TD play of the game. Another missed PAT attempt left the score at 33-14, with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.

Later, with second and 12, Mitchell went for the long pass, but Jamal Wheeler intercepted the ball and ran it back to the Polk 48. After a personal foul against Mitchell put the ball inside the home 40, Jamal Wheeler once again passed to Chupp, who, once again, carried the ball in for a score. This time, the PAT attempt was good, and Polk led 40-14, which was the final score.

This Friday is Homecoming for Polk, as the Wolverines host Avery County. After a bye on Oct. 24, the Wolverines will host Owen on Senior Night. The War Horses might be Polk’s toughest rival in the conference, with Owen sporting a 7-0 mark after defeating Mountain Heritage 42-30, on Friday.

Last Friday, Hendersonville, Polk’s final rival of the season, stopped Avery, 21-0.

Kickoff this Friday is set for 7:30 p.m.