BENTON — The Big Red Train is still rolling down the track — at least for one more week.
Polk County wrapped up its regular season schedule with a win at Meigs County last week and will meet the Kingston Yellowjackets in the first round of the playoffs Friday at Larry G. Davis Football Complex in Benton.
A win will ensure at least one more home game for the Wildcats and a chance to stay in their comfortable surroundings for a while. Head coach Derrick Davis said the Wildcats are eager to get the postseason under way.
Polk is also aware a loss will send them to the showers for another year.
“We are excited about No. 1 — being in the playoffs and No. 2 — not getting on a bus and traveling. Win and you advance, lose and you take equipment up on Monday. We’ve got an opportunity to play at home for a while. If we can advance, I know we will be at home the next week,” Davis said.
“There are a lot of things out there we have an opportunity to do. We’re excited. We are 0-0 and hopefully we will be 1-0 after Friday.”
The Wildcats are going up against a seriously tough team in Kingston, which is located in Roane County. The four losses by the Jackets have all been losses to some of the toughest programs in the state.
“We know Kingston is 6-4. We also know their losses have been to Alcoa (9-1), Christian Academy of Knoxville (9-1), Lenoir City (9-1) and a Loudon team that is 7-3 and lost to CAK, Alcoa and Lenoir City. Their four losses are against four very good teams. Their record is deceiving. Our kids can see by watching them on film this is not one of your average teams that we may have played this year,” Davis said of the visiting Yellowjackets.
“We’ve had 10 ballgames and we know this is not going to be an easy first-round matchup.”
The Wildcats don’t plan to add many new verses to their standard repertoire. The Polk staff might throw in a wrinkle or two to the basic program, but had no intentions of overcomplicating anything at this stage of the game.
“We are not going to change much. We are going to go with what got us here. We may add something here and there, but this time of year the mental preparation is big. We have got to mentally prepare for the different things Kingston does and be ready for that. Of course, it all boils down to blocking and tackling, like it does every game. We have to limit the penalties and turnovers,” said the coach.
“This is not a game where we can say, ‘We really messed up, but we can fix it and get ready for next week.’ There are no do overs this time around.”
With the game plan falling into place, the only thing Davis will have no control over will be the weather, which has suddenly taken a cooler turn.
“The weather changed a little bit on us this week. I’m glad it’s gotten colder, but I didn’t want it to get this cold this quick,” he said.
But, weather and uncontrollable variables aside, the Wildcats are as ready as they can be. Davis has emphasized the privilege allowed Polk County by being in the postseason as often as it has. He has also pushed the fact every time could be the last time, and wants his Wildcats to make the most of the experience.
“I think they are ready. We talked about how this has been 12 years (Polk has made the playoffs) and some teams haven’t been to the playoffs and felt the excitement,” he said.
“I want these guys to understand this is something they cannot take for granted. You never know if we will be back for a while. Being in the playoffs is a special thing and we need to treat it as such.”