Polk pulls off a win Friday vs. Chase

Published 4:56 pm Monday, August 24, 2015


Aggressive pass coverage by Chase defenders made it difficult at times for Polk quarterback Jamal Wheeler (7) to find open receivers. Wheeler did connect on several vital pass plays to help Polk win, 23-13. His two-point conversion run, following a fake PAT, helped insure Polk’s victory. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

By Mark Schmerling

It could be labeled deferred gratification or it could be labeled not lying down and quitting, but however one labels the Polk/Chase football game on Friday, Aug. 21, it ended with the Wolverines winning, 23-13, before a hometown crowd that itself had survived bouts of frustration.

The season opener provided plenty of interesting moments, including three Polk fumbles recovered by Chase, which posted touchdowns not long after the first two; a Polk interception of a Chase pass, a late-game safety by Polk (awarded after a long conference by the officials and some upset of hometown fans and Polk coaches), a block of a an attempted Chase extra point; and a successful fake extra point attempt by Polk.

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It also could have been labeled a flag football game, as the air was filled with officials’ flags seemingly non-stop, with the visiting Trojans committing more infractions than the Wolverines.

It also proved the cynically-based sports expression stating that the sooner one gets behind, the more time they have to catch up.

That was certainly the case Friday, as Chase took advantage of two Polk fumbles to take an early 13-0 lead. It was 13, not 14, because Polk’s aptly-named Storm Wheeler blasted through the Trojans’ offensive line to block the first attempted PAT (Chase later returned the favor after the Wolverines’ second TD).

The game started on a promising note for the Wolverines, when Polk placekicker Davis Derkach boomed the ball into the end zone, with Chase taking possession on its own 20.

The oddities began soon after. Polk’s Elijah Sutton picked off a Chase pass, and made a strong return to near mid-field, but both actions were nullified by a roughing-the-passer penalty against the Wolverines.

An apparent Chase touchdown run was called back due to offensive holding.

Polk took over on downs, but was unable to control the ball, losing a fumble on the Wolverine 21. Not long after, with 5:06 left in the first quarter, Trey Whiteside broke through for a Chase touchdown. Enter Storm Wheeler, who broke through the offensive line, launched himself at the ball, and blocked the PAT attempt, the thud nearly loud enough to be heard by Trojan fans in Forest City.

Polk’s next possession ended soon after Jamal Wheeler returned Chase’s kick to the Wolverine 34. Chase recovered a Polk fumble at the Wolverine 38.

A pass completion to Polk’s 21 set up another TD run by Chase, who made the PAT, and led, 13-0, with 3:41 to go in quarter number one.

After returning the Chase kick to his own 48, Jamal Wheeler completed a long pass to Storm Wheeler, but that play was called back on a penalty.

After a quarter, Chase led, 13-0, but fans were unaware that the visitors would add no more, and would eventually be on the wrong end of the score.

Polk’s nearly flawless defense held once more, as Chase turned over the ball on downs. After a great run, Jamal Wheeler fumbled, with Chase taking over, but that proved to be the visitors’ high-water mark.

Jamal Wheeler connected with Shakur Wingo for another long pass completion, putting the ball at the Chase 16.

Jamal Wheeler carried the ball to the seven, with Khiree Green’s two-yard gain setting up a five-yard TD sprint by Storm Wheeler. The PAT was good, and the score stood at 13-7 after the first half.

Polk was unable to move the ball far after taking Chase’s kick  to start the second half, but Derkach’s punt went untouched to the Chase 30.

Again, the Wolverine defense controlled the Trojans, including a sack of the quarterback.

Polk, taking over on downs, got as far as the Chase 20-21, but also turned the ball over on downs.

At the end of three, the score remained, 13-7.

Things continued going Polk’s way when Chase was forced back to its own 21 after a big penalty.

With 9:15 left in the game, Jamal Wheeler’s apparent touchdown run was called back on a penalty, giving Polk a first and goal at the Chase 20. Storm Wheeler carried the ball to the ten, after which Jamal Wheeler, who’d sometimes been unable to find open receivers, fired to Dillon Knighton for a touchdown with no strings (or flags) attached. With the score now tied at 13, a Trojan defender blocked Derkach’s PAT attempt.

Chase’s next possession gave Polk’s defense another Chance to say “no way!”

Another Jamal Wheeler pass found Knighton, and boosted Polk’s lead to 19-13. Polk lined up for the PAT, but that was for the benefit of Chase players, who were unable to touch Jamal Wheeler who scampered smiling, into the end zone, to put the Wolverines up, 21-13.

Derkach followed with another booming kick that forced Chase to take over at its own 20.

Not long after, when Polk tackled a Chase runner deep in his own territory, the ball popped loose, apparently into the end zone. Storm Wheeler landed on the ball, just out of the end zone, prompting a bit of indecision on the part of officials.

Those men in stripes finally ruled a Polk safety, which not only boosted the Wolverine lead (to 23-13), but guaranteed that Chase could not even tie the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion.

After Polk took Chase’s kick, Jamal Wheeler wisely took a knee three times, with the clock running out, and Polk owning a 23-23 win.

Following the game, Polk head coach Jamie Thompson gave thanks that “We could have laid down, but we didn’t.”

Thompson noted, “You don’t win too many times when you turn the ball over four times. It (rebounding after being behind early) is what they (Polk players) needed to grow as a team. Chase has a lot of seniors,” Thompson continued. “We don’t have a lot of seniors. It showed we could face adversity, and handle it.”

Thompson also praised Jamal Wheeler’s “great vision” to see Knighton open for the long touchdown strike that tied the game.

This Friday, Aug. 28, the Wolverines visit North Henderson, to face the Knights, who are also 1-0, after defeating T.C.Roberson, 14-7, on Aug. 21. Opening kickoff is set for 7:30.