FOOTBALL: Wolverines turn focus to postseason following loss at Brevard

Published 1:14 pm Monday, October 30, 2023

Time to look forward. That’s the message Polk County head football coach Dustin Fry delivered Friday evening to his Wolverines in the wake of Polk’s 49-21 loss to Brevard in the regular-season finale for both squads.

Forget about the three losses that ended the season. Forget about missing an opportunity to earn a home playoff game. Focus, instead, on the state 1A playoffs, a new season that begins Friday at Murphy.

And though he didn’t say it aloud, perhaps take note of the effort put forth Friday by Polk seniors Antonio Simpson, Keaundrae Green and others.

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Polk County will open state 1A football playoff action on Friday at Murphy.

The Wolverines received the 23rd seed in the 1A West bracket and will travel to Cherokee County to face the 10th-seeded Bulldogs in the opening round.

Brevard (8-2, 6-0) largely had the game in control by halftime, building a 36-7 advantage at the break. But the Wolverines (4-6, 3-3) did not slip quietly into the warm October evening lit by a full moon over Brevard Memorial Stadium.

Instead, Polk opened the second half by recovering an onside kick, then getting a 34-yard halfback option pass from Green to Simpson for a touchdown to make it 36-14 early in the third period.

The Blue Devils responded with three scoring drives – two field goals and a touchdown – sandwiched around a pair of Polk County fumbles. That, though, still didn’t deter the Wolverine upperclassmen.

Simpson hounded Brevard ball carriers, often appearing in the Blue Devil backfield to tackle a runner for a loss. Offensively, he finished the night with five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Green, with less than two minutes remaining, picked off a Brevard pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown, his second score of the night. He also stepped into the quarterback role for part of the fourth quarter as fellow senior Lawson Carter was injured.

“I appreciate the way Tony and Keaundrae came out and played today,” Fry said. “I appreciate how the guys fought the way we did. I don’t think we fought in the second half the last two weeks.

“I’m going to miss 1 and 3 (Simpson and Green) because those guys, I appreciate everything they do and how they fought, as did other guys.”

Brevard put together long scoring drives on its first two possessions, then blocked a Polk punt and returned that for another score to take a 22-0 edge early in the second quarter.

Polk then faced a fourth-and-13 and midfield when Carter dropped back to pass and found Green cutting across the middle. The senior stopped instantly, reversed field and outraced the Brevard secondary to the end zone, cutting the deficit to 22-7.

The Blue Devils, though, tacked on two more touchdowns before the half, taking charge and assuring themselves of completing a perfect run through the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference.

Polk, though, battled until the final whistle, and that’s why Fry and staff will look to build on before heading Friday to face one of the state’s legendary 1A football programs.

“Hopefully, we can reset and have a one-game season and see if we can make something happen,” Fry said.