Once things began banging on all cylinders though, there was no stopping Polk County as they went to work and did what they do best — run the ball down the field.
The seventh-ranked Wildcats (9-2) defeated their first TSSAA Class 3A playoff opponent, Sequatchie County (5-6), by a deafening score of 49-7.
“I’m just really happy. We’ve got nine wins and have the opportunity to have one more week,” head coach Derrick Davis said.
Polk’s rout of the Tribe came with an unexpected cost, as senior Devin Weber suffered a serious arm injury in the end zone following a 74-yard kick return in the final minutes of the third quarter.
“His elbow was dislocated and there’s a small chip in the bone. It will get checked out further on Monday, but I don’t see any chance of Devin playing next Friday,” Davis stated.
Not only did the win ensure another week of football for Polk County, it also presents the team with the opportunity to host Notre Dame (8-3), who defeated Cascade 38-14, in a rematch.
When the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish were last in Benton on Oct. 11, the Wildcats narrowly escaped with a two-point win.
“I’m proud of our guys, and it looks like we’ve got the rematch a lot of people were wanting to see in Notre Dame. It was a 12-10 game last time, so we’ve got another big challenge coming up,” Davis stated.
The week leading up to Friday’s game against Sequatchie Coach Davis spent time in the trenches, suiting up with the team to serve as the scout team quarterback to help prepare for legendary coach Ken Colquette’s veer offense.
“That’s a once and every time we may face a split back veer team kind of thing,” the rather sore coach joked. “They caused some problems there with that veer, but we made enough and got rolling.”
Chris Wimberley got scoring for the Wildcats started with 8:12 remaining in the first quarter with an eight-yard run, while Reno Wimberley’s kick ensured an extra point.
In the second quarter, Polk County shook things up a bit as both touchdowns were the result of passes from QB Josh Sillas.
Sillas got a screen pass to Chris Wimberley, who was able to take it 49 yards to reach paydirt with 3:01 left in the second quarter.
“We had two screens there, and one of them went the distance. It gave us a little bit of breathing room,” Davis commented.
Wimberley almost had a third touchdown in the books as he ran all the way home on a kick return, only to have a flag thrown on the play for blocking in the back on the Wildcats.
Zach Miller, who is now only 126 yards away from hitting 2,000 rushing yards for the season, was the answer to the penalty and ran the ball in 81 yards to just over Sequatchie’s four yard line.
From there, Sillas handled things as he got the pass to Gatlin Lanning who was waiting in the end zone with just 15.3 seconds remaining on the clock.
“Right there we were thinking we were going to go in 14-0 and get out of there, so we weren’t looking to get it down field and score,” Davis explained. “Then Miller got it down all the way to the four, and we threw a pass into the end zone and scored. It was set up, once again, by the running game that we’ve had all year.”
Four more touchdowns were scored in the third quarter, including Weber’s ill-fated 74-yard kick return and the Indians one and only touchdown of the night.
Three minutes into the quarter, Ryan Rowland ran the ball in 30 yards for the fourth Wildcat touchdown of the game.
Sequatchie County answered about five minutes later as QB Dylan Harvey got a seven-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Hamblen.
Just thirty seconds later, Miller outdid his previous run with an 85-yard dash, only this time around he made it all the way to the end zone.
A safety was given to the Wildcats after an intentional grounding in the end zone was called on the Tribe.
Reno Wimberley had the chance to put both of his feet to work with 7:32 remaining in the fourth quarter, and ran the ball in 20 yards for the final touchdown of the game.
Sequatchie County gave up five fumbles Friday evening, the majority of which resulted in scoring drives for Polk County.
“We had some good hits, and I’m glad that it happened for our sake, but it wasn’t what we expected out of them,” Davis remarked.
Miller led the Wildcats with a whopping 244 yards in 20 carries, and now has a total of 1874 yards for 324 carries so far this season.
Sillas was 4-for-5 on pass attempts for a total of 80 yards and two touchdowns Friday evening.
Chris Wimberley had a total of 39 yards in one reception. Reno Wimberley was 5-for-7 in PAT attempts.
Polk County will host Notre Dame next Friday at 7 p.m. for round two of the TSSAA playoffs.
“We’re one of 16 remaining teams in 3A, and we’re happy about that,” Davis proclaimed.
High School Football
Team District Overall
#7 Ooltewah 5-1 9-2
#8 East Hamilton 5-1 9-2
#5 Cleveland 5-1 8-3
McMinn County 3-3 4-6
Bradley Central 2-4 5-6
Walker Valley 2-5 4-6
Soddy-Daisy 0-6 3-7
Friday, Nov. 8
Cleveland 42, White County 8
Ooltewah 47, Stone Memorial 7
East Hamilton 25, Oak Ridge 10
Rhea County 34, Lenoir City 24
Maryville 42, Bradley Central 21
Morristown East 27, Dobyns-Bennett 17
Sevier County 56, Cookeville 42
Science Hill 56, Farragut 42
Friday, Nov. 15
Cleveland (8-3) at Rhea Co. (10-1), 7
East Hamilton (9-2) at Ooltewah (9-2), 7
Team District Overall
#7 Polk County 4-0 9-2
Sequoyah 3-1 9-2
McMinn Central 2-2 4-6
Sweetwater 1-3 4-6
Loudon 0-4 3-7
Friday, Nov. 8
Polk County 49, Sequatchie County 7
Notre Dame 38, Cascade 14
Upperman 56, Grundy Co. 20
Tyner 20, Smith County 7
Sequoyah 34, Chatt. Central 3
Hixson 19, East Ridge 0
Signal Mtn. 52, Marshall Co. 17
Knox Catholic 55, DeKalb County 13
Friday, Nov. 15
Notre Dame (8-3) at Polk Co. (9-2), 7
Tyner (5-6) at Upperman (11-0), 8
Sequoyah (9-2) at Hixson (8-3), 7
Knox Catholic (8-3) at Signal Mtn. (8-3), 7
Sequatchie County 0 0 7 0 — 7
Polk County 7 14 22 6 — 49
PC — Chris Wimberley 8 yd run (Reno Wimberly kick), 8:12
PC — Josh Silas 49 yd pass to C. Wimberely (R. Wimberley kick good), 3:01
PC — Silas 3 yd pass to Gatlin Lanning (R. Wimberley kick good), 15.3
PC — Ryan Rowland 30 yd run (R. Wimberley kick good), 9:15
SC — Jackson Hamblen 7 yd pass from Dylan Harvey (Christian Payne kick), 4:32
PC — Zach Miller 85 yd run (R. Wimberley kick good), 4:08
PC — Safety (intentional grounding in endzone), 1:13
PC — Devin Weber 74 yd kick return (kick failed), 58.7
PC — Reno Wimberley 20 yd run (kick failed), 7:32
First downs 13 13
Rushes-yards 46-255 40-368
Passing yards 7 80
Total yards 262 448
Comp-Att-Int 1-8-1 4-5-0
Punts -Ave. 1-39 3-29.3
Fumbles-Lost 5-5 0-0
Penalties 4-60 2-20
Rushing: Zack Miller 20-244 TD (PC); Hayden Hick 18-119, Blake Cates 8-66 (SC).
Passing: Josh Silas 4-5-0 80 2 TDs (PC); Dylan Harvey 1-5-1 7 TD (SC).
Receiving: Chris Wimberley 1-49 TD (PC).
Records: Sequatich County 5-6; Polk County 9-2.