Wolverines meet the Bearcats tonight on Dietz field

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, November 3, 2016

Luke Sellars and the rest of Polk County’s defense will look to stop Hendersonville’s high-octane passing attack in tonight’s regular-season finale.

Luke Sellars and the rest of Polk County’s defense will look to stop Hendersonville’s high-octane passing attack in tonight’s regular-season finale.

It almost feels like a breakup of two longtime friends.

Since Polk County began playing football in 1989, Hendersonville has been one of its natural rivals. The teams have battled annually, their showdowns in recent years often integral to deciding the Western Highlands Conference regular-season championship.

As the teams prepare to end the 2016 regular season on Friday night at the Bearcats’ Dietz Field (7:30 p.m. kickoff), it marks the final time Polk County and Hendersonville will meet as conference rivals, at least for the next four years, as Hendersonville exits the WHC after this season. And while officials at both schools hope to keep the rivalry going as a non-conference matchup, there’s no guarantee that schedules will align to make that happen.

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Polk County head coach Jamie Thompson first stepped into the rivalry as an assistant coach in 2003. Since that time, the Wolverines hold a 7-6 edge in the series (Hendersonville leads 19-9 overall). Thompson would love nothing more than to see the Bearcats exit the WHC door with that advantage intact.

“I’d like to stay on the plus side with them,” he said. “There have been a lot of fun games, a lot of close contests. There haven’t been too many blowouts.”

There have been plenty of memorable moments. For Thompson, three games stand out.

2003: Hendersonville 26, Polk County 7.

“2003 was probably the biggest game Polk and Hendersonville ever had. We were both 10-0 coming into the game. I took the skid steers and brought every set of bleachers we had and set them around the field. When we went out for our pregame around 6 p.m., both sides were packed. Even the bleachers I had brought in were packed and people were standing.”

2009: Polk County 32, Hendersonville 20:

“The most gratifying was in 2009. We had lost once, Hendersonville had lost once and Mountain Heritage had lost once. Hendersonville had been the stud team that year. We were up (20-6) just before halftime and they returned a kickoff for a touchdown. But we came out and scored a couple of times in the second half and beat them. We split the conference championship (with Mountain Heritage), but beating Hendersonville to win that was big for us.”

2014: Polk County 20, Hendersonville 17:

“My first year as a head coach we go up there and they have a good team. They were throwing the ball everywhere and had the Cleary kid (Cole Cleary) catching so many passes. But Jordan Smith ran for (217 yards) and we kept the ball away from them. We doubled them up on offensive production.”


Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Records: Hendersonville 7-3, 4-1; Polk County 5-5, 3-2.

Series history: Hendersonville leads 19-9.

Last meeting: Taking advantage of Polk County mistakes, Hendersonville built a 28-7 lead, then held on for a 34-22 win.

Players to Watch: Hendersonville junior Tykel Landrum is a force on both sides of the ball. Landrum leads Western North Carolina in receiving, with 64 receptions for 1,117 yards and 11 touchdowns. Landrum also has 10 interceptions and has averaged 32 yards per return on those 10 picks. Junior Alex Williford has thrown for 2,047 yards and 20 touchdowns on 136-of-218 attempts. Williford does have 14 interceptions. Tyrese Hunt leads the Bearcat ground game with 660 yards.

– article submitted by PolkSports.com