Making one defensive play with no time left on the clock is an exciting way to begin a football season. That’s how the Polk County Wildcats opened the 2013 football season last week against Bradley Central.
Had the Bears tied the game, Wildcats coach Derrick Davis admitted the outcome might have been different. And if the same situation arises Friday when Polk travels to Chattanooga Central, Davis hopes that experience will work in favor of the Wildcats.
“It was no doubt an exciting win. It came down to one play. We would’ve still had a shot at a win (If Bradley had tied the score), but it would have been hard. I don’t know that we could have stopped them in overtime, I don’t know if we could have won. If there were any games in the state Friday night that came down to the end like that one, I don’t know who it was. We were fortunate to come out on top,” he said.
“As much as you want to relive it, think about it and enjoy it, it’s time to move on. There will be time down the road we can look back. But, it is definitely a game I think will help us. There are some things we can use down the road that maybe we have learned from it and can be OK.”
There will be no letdown in the talent factor this week when the Purple Pounders take the field against the Wildcats. In fact, if numbers are a factor Polk could be facing one of the most experienced football teams it will see all season. Experience that could translate into trouble for Davis’ defensive squad.
“I think they have something like 26 juniors. This is the best team they have had in the three years we have played them. They create a lot of challenges that we have a hard time matching up with at times, and that is really good athletes with a lot of speed. They have the ability to turn a broken play into a touchdown. We may be doing everything right, but we may miss a tackle and it gets out of hand. We’ve really got to be conscious of getting correct pursuit angles on defense,” he said.
One thing in Polk’s favor will be the fact the Wildcats have seen a good number of Central’s offensive looks after facing off against the Bears. Still, preparation will be key and a readiness to come out of the gate strong will be a large factor for success.
“They have changed offenses and are running an offense similar to Bradley’s. It is a lot of the same stuff Bradley does, which could help us. They are pretty good. They beat a 6-A team Friday, plus we have to go down there. The last time we went down there we got beat. We weren’t ready to play, and that falls on me. We’ve got to come out ready to play like we did against Bradley, with a lot of energy and fire about ut.”
The biggest problem facing the Wildcats on the practice field is getting the kicking game worked out. Although Polk was 4 of 4 in extra point tries, the kickoffs after touchdowns left a good deal to be desired. Two squib attempts left the Bears in fine shape offensively leading to two late-game scores.
“Friday night didn’t expose anything glaring that we didn’t know. One thing it did expose that could have cost us and will cost us down the road if we don’t figure something out ... is our kickoff team. We can’t give them the ball at the 40-yard line every time.
“I want to put it on record, those were not onside kicks that we were calling,” said Davis, who can laugh about it now. “We were trying to squib it and that didn’t happen. There are a lot of people who think we are not very smart. I’m not knocking our guy kicking, but it was not an intentional thing. It cost us a lot of field position. If we had of lost I would have pointed to that as one of the factors.”
The Wildcats came away from Friday night with some nicks and bruises that may or may not play a factor in the starting lineup against the Purple Pounders.
“It was a hard-fought game and we’ve got some possibles that we may or may not have Friday. And with our depth the way it is we can’t afford to lose anybody. We’re hoping they will play. We have an off week after this week and we hope to get A.J. Pittaway back; he is a two-way player.”
To be sure, it will be another tough game for the Polk County Wildcats. Last week is gone and out of the way and a new Friday night looms just over the horizon. With a win, the ’Cats can head into thier off week with a sense off accomplishment and enjoy the early season break. A loss could weigh on the minds until Sept. 13 when Polk plays a road game in East Ridge.
“I enjoyed the win, but I caught myself Friday already starting to look ahead to this week. This is a profession of ‘What have you done for me lately?’ Nobody is going to care this week how we did against Bradley last week. They are not going to care the next week, either. It’s every Friday night. You’ve got to move on,” Davis said.
“I would rather have the problem of trying to move on being really excited about what happened because I’ve been on the flip side, having to go out and practice after a tough loss and get ready to go. We’ve got a chance to go 2-0 for the first time since 2009, and then go into an off week. That’s big for me,” the coach added.
“The kids are excited and practice is easier when you have a win like that. It’s a challenge going down there and trying to match up with them, but a lot of people didn’t give us a chance against Bradley. It’s any given night, and we’ve got to be ready to go.”