Pumped-up Wolverines dominate Owen, 41-20

Published 3:53 pm Monday, November 2, 2015

Owen's hard running backup quarterback Kendrick Weaver is going  nowhere on this play, as Polk's Wes Mullis (#55) is in the process of dropping him. Mullis also batted down a Weaver pass late in the game, to help preserve Polk's 41-20 win on Oct. 30 at Owen. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

Owen’s hard running backup quarterback Kendrick Weaver is going
nowhere on this play, as Polk’s Wes Mullis (#55) is in the process of dropping him. Mullis also batted down a Weaver pass late in the game, to help preserve Polk’s 41-20 win on Oct. 30 at Owen. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

When Polk’s varsity football team took the field at Owen on Friday evening, with palpable intensity, what Polk fan could not see a win in the making?

The Wolverines did win, posting a 41-20 Western Highlands Conference victory, keeping their hopes alive for a home opener in the state playoffs, which begin this month.

Did the return of talented sophomore pass receiver/pass defender Dillon Overholt light up the Wolverines? Was it the memory of last year’s unlikely loss to the Warhorses at Columbus?

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“I think it’s a combination,” replied Wolverine Head Coach Jamie Thompson.

This Friday, Nov. 6, the Wolverines (now 5-5 overall and 3-2 in WHC action) host WHC rival Hendersonville. The Bearcats will bring a 5-5 overall mark, and are 4-1 in the WHC, but a Polk win would tie the WHC records. Hendersonville has demonstrated the ability to score lots of points, and give up lots of points.

Before the Owen contest, Thompson said was looking for the Wolverines to rush for at least 400 yards. Led by Jamal Wheeler (224 yards on 15 carries and four touchdowns), and a stronger-looking Storm Wheeler (94 yards and one TD), and bolstered by Jaymes Wingo 65 yards, one TD), Khiree Green (34 yards) and Shakur Wingo’s 19 yards, Polk racked up 436 yards on the ground.

“They’re excited,” Thompson said of players’ reactions to Overholt’s return from a knee injury. “He’s a returning starter from last year. He’s only played two and one-half games this year.”

Overholt and quarterback Jamal Wheeler were not pressured to carry the game via the pass; the Wolverines’ ground attack largely took care of business.

All that Owen was able to win on Friday was the opening coin toss. The Warhorses elected to receive, but an interception by Polk’s Elijah Sutton gave Polk the ball at the Owen 44. Once the Wolverines reached the Owen 25, Jamal Wheeler scored on a keeper with about two minutes gone in the game. Wheeler also scored two points on another keeper, and Polk led 8-0.

Owen’s next drive was interrupted by a near fumble on a bad snap, and false start penalties (officials later tagged the Wolverines with those and other infractions), and the Warhorses punted.

Polk set up on their own 38, but moved the chains to Owen’s 47 on Jamal Wheeler’s keeper. Storm Wheeler found room to his left and carried to Owen’s 35 for another first down. He then carried to the Owen 29 and then the 22, drilling his tackler near the 22. Next, Khiree Green ran for 18 yards before being forced out of bounds at the Owen four. Green’s crash and carry set up Jaymes Wingo’s four-yard TD run. The kick was good, and with over two and one-half minutes remaining in the first quarter, Polk led, 15-0.

Owen again punted to Polk, the ball taking a Warhorse bounce or two, forcing the Wolverines to begin at their 26. Storm Wheeler took a pitch, and ran to his 35. Jamal Wheeler carried for three and a first down at the 38. Thus ended the first quarter, with Polk up, 15-0.

Jaymes Wingo started the second quarter by breaking a tackle, and running 28 yards to Owen’s 27.

A five-yard gain by Storm Wheeler, and a five-yard penalty put the Wolverines back on the 27, from where Jamal Wheeler dashed in for another TD, only 39 seconds into the quarter. A fake kick and an incomplete pass kept the score at 21-0, Polk.

Owen’s fine running back Sidney Gibbs put the Warhorses on the board with a scorching all-the-way kickoff return. The PAT kick missed, and Polk led, 21-6.

Jamal Wheeler nearly pulled off the same scenario on Owen’s kickoff, making a great return to midfield before being forced out of bounds. However, dual penalties against Polk put the ball back on their one-yard line. From that hold, Jamal Wheeler carried 14 yards, before Storm Wheeler ran for 20 to the Polk 35.

Two carries by Green gave Polk a first down at the Wolverine 47. An offensive pass interference call against Polk yanked the ball farther back to the Wolverine 31. Jamal Wheeler was sacked on the Polk 24, resulting in a third and 32. Jamal Wheeler’s 26-yard run, followed by his short first-down carry, kept the 99-yard drive alive. Facing a fourth and four at Owen’s 35, Jamal Wheeler ran to the 30.

A one-yard pass completion to Dillon Knighton, and Jamal Wheeler’s 12-yard carry, took the ball to Owen’s 18. Carries by Green and Jaymes Wingo moved it to the seven. From there, Storm Wheeler crashed into the end zone. A good kick gave Polk a 28-6 lead with the time running short in the first half.

Following Polk’s kickoff, Owen started at its 36. Gibbs bolted to the Warhorse 48, and three plays later, he ran to Polk’s 45 for a first down.

Polk took over on downs, but could do no better than Jamal Wheeler’s complete pass to Knighton, before the half ended, with Polk ahead, 28-6.

Early in the second half, Owen was able to cut Polk’s lead to 28-14, after recovering a loose ball. Gibbs ran for 29 yards, and then ran the conversion in for two points.

On its next possession, Polk turned the ball over on downs, but forced Owen to punt again. Polk used carries by Jamal Wheeler and Jaymes Wingo to reach the Owen nine, from where Jamal Wheeler barged into the end zone. The kick was good, and Polk led, 35-14 in a game where the outcome was basically settled early.

By the time Polk had figured how to contain Gibbs, the sharp-running ball carrier had to leave the game with an injury. On the play where he was hurt, Gibbs made a short carry to Polk’s two. From there, the Warhorses Devonte Stout found the end zone. Owen tried for a two-point pass, but Polk’s Elijah Sutton broke it up.

Polk led, 35-20, and added more, as Jamal Wheeler broke at least one tackle enroute to a 45-yard touchdown run.

At that point, the game was essentially over, but Polk’s defense kept its focus. With just 24 seconds left, the Wolverines’ Wes Mullus, who looked like the basketball player he is during the winter, emphatically batted down a pass attempt

Penalties hurt the Wolverines, but did not alter who won.

“It wasn’t pretty, but y’all played hard,” Thompson addressed his players after the game. “We’ve still got work to do,” he added.

This Friday’s game against Hendersonville, to be played at Columbus, is set to begin at 7:30.