BENTON — After last week’s 411-yard performance by Polk County running back Zach Miller, Wildcats coach Derrick Davis is hoping the junior locomotive still has some steam left to pull the Big Red Train one more time.
Miller will have to be at his season’s best Friday night at Larry G. Davis Football Complex when the 6-2 South Pittsburg Pirates sail into Benton. He will have extra pressure on his powerful legs this week as the Wildcats have taken another blow to the quarterback position. Sophomore Josh Silas, who took over for an injured Duncan Coffey, has also been listed as day-to-day and is likely to be replaced by yet another sophomore, Isaac Smith. Silas joins a growing list of walking wounded who will more than likely take on the role of cheerleaders Friday.
“As high as you are on Friday night after a big win, you have three go to the doctor Tuesday. Silas, who took over at quarterback after Duncan went down, is now doubtful with a foot sprain. Our starting guard Matthew Wilson is out for sure with a sprained MCL. Our defensive end Matthew Triplett is also questionable.
“We don’t know much of anything right now other than Wilson is out for sure and its not looking good for Silas,” Davis speculated. “It really hurts us because lack of depth has been one of our issues anyway. I hate it for those guys. I know that’s part of it, but it is hitting us at the wrong time. You can kind of deal with it early in the year, but going into these last two games, it’s even tougher. We are going to have to work to fill in the gaps.”
If Silas is absent from the starting lineup Friday, the field general’s job will fall onto the shoulders of Smith, who has seen limited action under center.
“With Silas we didn’t really skip a beat because he is an experienced player. It came down to him and Duncan anyway. Now, our initial two quarterbacks are out and it looks like we are going with another sophomore with Smith. His varsity experience is very limited. That is no knock on him, it’s just a fact. There is nothing that can beat game experience. He hasn’t had a whole lot, and we will just do the best we can this week.
“There is a chance Silas will be back, but the way it’s looking he probably won’t be back. We have lost a quarterback before, but in my 13 years we have never lost our top two.”
If Miller has been an unlikely secret to any team the Wildcats have faced so far this year, the proverbial ’Cat is out of the bag now.
“We are even more relying on Miller and our linemen and now we are missing one of them. Anybody with any sense knows we are going to go with Miller anyway. Now it’s pretty much even more certain he is going to get the ball,” said Davis about his workhorse.
As usual, the Pirates will bring a seriously strong team to Benton. With only two losses to two top-notch teams, South Pittsburg will be eager to make it two in a row against Polk.
“South Pitt is a very good team. They have lost two games, one to the No. 1-ranked 2-A team (Boyd-Buchanan) and one to Signal Mountain by one point. They (South Pittsburg) are a traditionally tough team. Unfortunately, this comes at a time when we’ve got a lot of injuries.
“They are awful tough. They have a running back, JaJuan Lankford, who in all the year’s I have been around is right up at the top of the list. These guys have been in the finals about five years in a row. They do a great job being a class A team, but they are not your traditional class A team. They are a pretty good team.”
The lone bit of good news for the Wildcats this week is they have already locked up the District 5-AA championship and the out-of-district meeting with the Pirates counts for nothing other than a pride game for both teams. Still, Polk would love nothing more than to avenge last year’s kidnapping by the Swashbucklers. Davis is counting on the Wildcats to again rally around whoever is standing behind center.
“We are going to rally around who is back there. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, there isn’t anybody out there that is going to feel sorry for us. That’s a part of football and we just seem to be dealing with it right here at one time. We all have to pull together a little bit more. We are going to see how it goes this week in practice,” he said.
“It will be Senior Night so there shouldn’t be any reason we are not ready to play. Miller has been a big part of our offense and he will continue to be a big part of our offense. With that being said, we are going to have to have more production from other areas.
“Everybody is going to have to pick it up a little bit more. If I were gearing toward stopping us, it would be one page of ‘Right now, in particular, stop Miller.’ We are going to have to make some other plays go to other people and get them involved. We have got to have production there.”