Polk football team regains some ‘swagger’ by crushing East Henderson, 36-14

Published 7:11 pm Sunday, September 20, 2015

Polk's Khiree Green (#5) gives the Wolverines another dimension in running backs. Green picked up key yardage in the Wolverines' 36-14 win over east Henderson last Friday. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

Polk’s Khiree Green (#5) gives the Wolverines another dimension in running backs. Green picked up key yardage in the Wolverines’ 36-14 win over east Henderson last Friday. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

After the narrow loss to Landrum on Sept. 11, Polk County High School head football coach Jamie Thompson said his players needed to regain their swagger.

By thumping visiting North Henderson (0-4), 36-14 on Friday, Sept. 18, the Wolverines got back a good dose of that swagger. In fact, Polk, now 2-3, led the Eagles, 29-0, at the half, an emphatic statement that put the swagger back into many of the Polk faithful.

It was a Polk team that played rather efficiently, going into this Friday’s Sept. 25 Homecoming game against Madison, the first conference rival of the season. The vast majority of yellow flags were flung against Eagle infractions.

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The Wolverines’ defense — brutally efficient nearly the entire game — got to work early. Polk’s Davis Derkach, boomed the opening kickoff into the Eagles’ end zone, giving the visitors the ball at their own 20.

Unable to advance past its own 24, East punted. Starting at their own 22, the Wolverines moved the ball efficiently. Catching a short pass from Jamal Wheeler, Khiree Green thwarted a would-be tackler, and made it out to the Wolverine 40 for a first down. Carries by Storm Wheeler and Jaymes Wingo took the ball to East’s 24. Jaymes Wingo caught a Jamal Wheeler pass, and ran to the Eagles’ 12 for a first down. After Storm Wheeler advanced to the eight, Jamal Wheeler scored on a keeper with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter. Derkach’s PAT kick made it 7-0.

Very early in the second quarter, with Polk on the East 35, Jamal Wheeler kept the ball, streaked down the left side, tight to the line, and scored. The kick made it 14-0.

East’s next possession brought on some of Polk’s heavy hitting. On one play, the Wolverines’ Braden Miller simply buried a would-be ball carrier. On another, Jamal Wheeler, in a pass defender position responded to a short pass completion by taking down the receiver — fast.

Polk defender Fred Salerno and Devin Panchyshyn continued their clean, but efficient, assaults on opposing runners.

Even with a roughing the passer penalty called against them, the Wolverines forced the Eagles to punt once more (after Polk defenders buried East’s quarterback). This time, Jamal Wheeler took the punt back to East’s 30. Carries by Green, Shakur Wingo and by Jamal Wheeler took the ball just inside the ten for a first and goal.

Three plays later, Jamal Wheeler hit Josh Chupp in the end zone. The pass was not complete, but a defensive pass interference call (an official could be heard informing the offending player that he (the player) hit Chupp before Chupp touched the ball), put the ball on East’s four.

From there, Khiree Green fought his way in for a score. That, and another true PAT kick, put the Wolverines ahead, 21-0, with 4:34 left in the first half.

East started its next possession at its 23, advancing as far as its 30 on a pass completion.

Penalty flags and Polk’s defense put East in a 4th and 13 hole at the Eagles’ 20. The Eagles wanted to punt, but the snap sailed high and far, with Polk recovering the ball in the end zone for a safety. Polk now led, 23-0, and received the next kickoff.

Both feeding on, and helping create the momentum, Jamal Wheeler took the short kickoff and dragged several tacklers with him before he was finally stopped. After a penalty against the Eagles, Polk had the ball at the visitors’ 32.

A touchdown pass from Jamal Wheeler to J.D. Edwards, with Derkach’s good PAT, gave Polk a 29-0 lead, as time ran out in the half.

It took East over half of the third quarter to score its first points, with their fine running back Cole Revis scoring from a year out. Revis made some excellent runs, with teammates Darren Obourne and Josh Glynn also showing their ball-carrying skills.

East was unable to make the PAT kick, as Storm Wheeler blocked it for Polk, who now led, 29-6.

Polk’s next drive ended when East recovered a loose ball at its 46. It made little difference, as the Wolverines’ defense stopped the Eagles again. After the Eagles’ punt, Polk was in business at its 35. Polk and East traded possessions.

Next time Polk got the ball, Jamal Wheeler ran a punt to East’s 25. Runs by Jamal Wheeler to the Eagles’ six, set up a TD run by Jaymes Wingo, with 6:51 remaining in the contest.

A kick later, Polk led, 36-6.

Following a 75-yard run by Revis, to the Polk five, the Eagles scored on a pass to Osbourne, with just 18 seconds left in the game. The Eagles were successful in completing a two-point conversion via the pass, but Polk was successful in claiming the 36-14 win.

“We’ve had a trying week,” Thompson told his assembled players after the game. “I’m really proud, and I’m really happy,” he continued. “We’re starting to rise up. We did a lot of things right tonight . . . I’m proud of you.”

A much-relieved Thompson noted, “We got some of that swagger back. The kids really came together. Our theme this week was ‘Rise Up.’ The play-action pass game was good for us . . . I wanted to strut some this weekend. We’ve got the makings of a great football team.”

What about some of the costly turnovers and penalties in previous game?

“It was reality hitting us in the face,” Thompson replied. We worked on correcting our mistakes.”

Opening kickoff this Friday, Sept. 25 against Madison for Homecoming Night, is 7:30 p.m.