Another Friday and another big football game for, Polk County.
This week the 5-2 (2-0 District 5-AA) Wildcats can virtually lock up their fourth straight district championship with a win over Sequoyah (6-1, 2-0).
The feat, however is easier hoped for than accomplished, particularly if the Wildcats let their concentration stray from the business at hand to homecoming festivities and the ceremony honoring the 2002 team.
“The district championship is on the line. They (Sequoyah) are pretty good this year. Their only loss is to Lenoir City and Lenoir City beat Knox West who is also pretty good,” Polk coach Derrick Davis said of the steadily improving Chiefs. They are the best they have been in quite a few years. I think it’s the best start they’ve had since 1999.”
The Chiefs will throw several different offensive looks at the Polk defense and the Wildcats will have to quickly figure out what formation will best stop the Sequoyah attack.
“They run a multiple offense that can cause you problems. It’s kind of a mix between Wing-T and shotgun formations. They are playing hard. We’ve won three championships in a row and everybody in this district is looking to knock us off. They are going to be ready to play,” said Davis.
Davis said he doesn’t expect Sequoyah to come at the Wildcats any different than they would if senior quarterback Duncan Coffey were still under center, rather he expects the focus to remain on fullback Zach Miller. Last week he expressed complete confidence in QB Josh Silas and has even more faith in the sophomore this time around.
“I expect them to shut down Miller, just like everybody else has. I would try to limit what he does. I’ll say it again, I feel good about Josh. I thought he played a good game (against Signal Mountain). We put him in a bad situation. But, he played a great game offensively and defensively. I don’t look at his being in there as us hurting at the position at all. It does hurt our depth because he was a wingback. It’s a trickle down effect losing Duncan in a lot of the depth areas, as far as kids we can put in if somebody else gets hurt,” Davis stated.
“As far as quarterback, we feel good about what (Silas) is doing. He is not just a kid we threw in. It came down to making a decision between him and Coffey for the starting job. He’s gotten plenty of work there and he is an experienced player.”
With a full game as field general under his belt, Davis feels the nerves will be more settled for his young QB. The game plan looks to be a familiar one for Silas without a tremendous amount of new material to have to be concerned about.
“I think he will be better having a game under his belt nerves-wise, but I think he is going to be fine. It’s one of those games where we are not going to be very cute. We’re going to do what we’ve done best this year. We are not going to try a whole lot of new things because there is so much riding on this game. We are just going to have to execute,” said Davis.
On the defensive side of the ball, Polk expects Sequoyah’s potent offense to be a bit slower than the pace set by Signal Mountain. On paper, the Wildcats and Chiefs have pretty close to the same number of players playing on both sides of the ball. The teams that earns the advantage will be the one playing every play and setting a tiring pace for the other team.
“Defensively, we are not going to face the tempo we saw last week. That may help us with the kids playing both ways not getting so worn out. They’ve probably got as many or more playing both ways as we do. That will be a little bit to our advantage compared to last week when they had just one or two going. Really, none of them went both ways the entire game. They subbed a lot,” said the Polk coach.
With a district win under its belt, Polk could gain a serious advantage with a win this week. But, to be sure, a win is nowhere near guaranteed against the Chiefs and again, the biggest game of the season looms for the ’Cats.
“I really do,” Davis said when asked if he feels this is the Wildcats’ biggest game of the season. “I know it was big when we played Sweetwater. It was big when we played McMinn Central. But, it comes down now to the winner of this game being district champ. That puts you in the probability of hosting a first-round game. Yes, It’s the biggest one this year.”
A victory will more than likely secure a fourth straight district championship for the Wildcats who first took to the field at Larry G. Davis Football Complex four years ago as freshmen. Davis wants this group to make this week a memorable one.
“There is nothing I’d love more than to see these seniors down the road be able to say they won the district four straight years. That would be something to be proud of,” he said.
“We are going to have to play very well and limit our penalties. I say this every week, but, when it comes down to a game like this, we are going to have to do those things. I would be very surprised if we are not ready to play. With this much riding on a win, if we are not ready to play then I will be just so dumbfounded and disappointed.”
A win this time around could ensure Polk hosts a first-round playoff game. A loss will throw everything back into the air and take the Wildcats’ destiny out of their own hands. With two games remaining, Davis reminded the team of just how fast things happen and to hang on to perspective.
“It’s Week 8. We have talked about these guys coming back Friday night after 10 years and how fast it has gotten here. It’s already our Week 8. How fast are the next few weeks going to go by?” he cautioned. “I hope we understand the sense of urgency and where we are at in the season. We are where we wanted to be when the season started, with a chance to clinch the district title. You can’t ask for more than that.
“We are going to give it our best shot Friday.”