The Wildcats’ defeated Tyner in the opening round of the 3A playoffs last week and were rewarded with new powerhouse Christian Academy of Knoxville (10-1) in Round 2 Friday night in Knoxville.
“Last year they were 10-2; they only lost to Alcoa in the playoffs and regular season. This year they are 10-1. Their only loss is to Alcoa. I can’t speak for out in West Tennessee but they are probably the best 3A team besides Alcoa and they scored 33 on Alcoa,” Davis said of the Warriors.
The big dose of confidence picked up by the Wildcats (10-1) after an 18-13 win against the Tyner Rams in the opening round of the playoffs will need to carry over and then some if Polk wants to see Round 3.
“The guys have a confident attitude but it is by far not a cocky attitude of any type,” acknowledged the Polk coach. “We are going to play hard. We are going to prepare and give it all we have. Really, that is all you can ask going into this game. It is an excited, confident attitude.”
A win against the Warriors will be a decidedly uphill battle. CAK is under the direction of a very experienced quarterback and controlled by some names familiar to Tennessee Volunteers fans.
“In 11 years this may be the most sophisticated offense I have seen,” admitted Davis. “They have three former UT players on staff, Jarvis Reado, Jeff Hall and Fred White. That means they have a lot of coaching experience from the college level, guys that have played college football.”
The college coaching received by the Warriors translates into a collegiate approach to the game, one the Wildcats will have to keep up with and keep under control.
“They throw probably 90 percent of the time. They use a no huddle offense and it is a very college-like offense. They are so technically very precise,” Davis said. “Our guys are going to really have to step it up on defense. I cannot think of a more explosive offense. Their offense is what makes them go.
“Their quarterback (Quinn Epperson) looks like Peyton Panning under center. He goes down the line checking, signaling and causing general confusion for the defense. We are going to try to disguise some things and show some different things we haven’t shown this year.”
For that reason, Davis will be looking for his offense to also be a part of the Polk County defense.
“I think one of our best defenses will be if our offense can control the ball, get first downs and keep the ball out of their hands. That will be a key helping us defensively. CAK doesn’t have anybody that goes two ways. It’s all 11 and 11 coming on and off the field. We are going to have to give our defense a rest by moving the ball and getting first downs.
“Now, if we break a long one and score, that’s great too.”
The Wildcats’ coach said he cannot place enough emphasis on the discipline and toughness of the upcoming opponents. For only the second time in as many weeks, Polk County is the underdog heading into the competition. But Davis said the ’Cats are far from ready to call it a season and will do everything possible to keep the season going.
“I can’t stress enough how good these guys are on offense particularly. I don’t want to invite all our fans down to watch tape. They can take it from me they are a notch above most teams. But I read a quote from Mike Martz, head coach at East Ridge. He said, “I believe in ‘Hoosiers’, I believe in ‘Rocky’ and I believe in Appalachian State beating Michigan.
“I’m not saying there is no way we can win this game. But we cannot help them at all. They can hurt you in so many ways.”
The Wildcats also are counting on the Polk County followers to continue the tradition and travel up Interstate 75 to support the team.
“I know we are going to have a good crowd. They have been following us so well. It’s great to know the following we have. They may have to Mapquest directions off Cedar Bluff exit but we would like to see a good crowd up there.
“We are going to play Polk County football and see what happens. The reward for either team is Alcoa but both of us would like a shot at them, that is for sure.”