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Originally published: 2012-10-04 12:46:29
Last modified: 2012-10-04 12:46:29

Vikings ventures to Little Big House to square off with Wolverines

Jamie Shell / (sports@averyjournal.com)

Fortunes cannot go much further downhill for the 2012 Avery Vikings. Saddled with a five-game losing streak after a promising start to the season and coming off a 19-0 home shutout against Hendersonville (the first such home defeat this century), AHS hopes to find some sort of light at the end of the tunnel this week as it travels to Polk County this Friday, Oct. 5, to face the Polk County Wolverines in a Western Highlands Conference matchup.
Polk defeated Mitchell 36-20 in Ledger last week and defeated the Vikings 51-31 last season at MacDonald Stadium.
Scouting the Wolverines
Polk County is coached by Bruce Ollis, who is in his ninth year with the Wolverines and has a coaching record of 96-36 with the school and 180 overall coaching wins for his career. The Wolverines returned five starters on offense and defense from last year's ballclub, and utilize a Hybrid I offensive formation and operates defensively out of a base five-man front.
Polk is Western North Carolina's second-winningest team during the past nine seasons combined with 90 victories, while capturing at least a share of the conference title four times in the past six seasons.
Polk suffered a number of key losses to graduation leading into this season, including 1,500-yard rusher Cary Littlejohn and leading receiver Joel Booker, who caught 41 passes for 836 yards in 2011.
The key cog to the Polk offensive machine is quarterback Alec Philpott, who threw for 1,488 yards and 10 touchdowns with five interceptions last season. Thus far in 2012, Philpott has thrown for 710 yards, and has done damage on the ground with 127 rushing attempts for 692 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Two other key players who power the PCHS offense are Reece Schlabach (nine receptions, 136 yards and two touchdowns) and Anthony Carson (21 receptions for 351 yards with two touchdowns).
Defensively, the Wolverines are a strong tackling team, with at least five players registering 40 tackles or more this season.
Coleman Bradley leads the club with 64 tackles, among leaders in Western North Carolina. Lucas Williams has been a stalwart for the Wolverines defense as well with 54 tackles in 2012, while Jordan Smith has registered 46 tackles, Schlabach has chipped in with 43 tackles and Chase McMurry has recorded 40 tackles.
The low down
Polk County does not possess the pure speed and athleticism across the board that Hendersonville takes to the field. Nevertheless, the Wolverines are still a quick team with greater speed than most in the WHC. Although Avery's game plan of a run-heavy offense to shorten last week's game did not result in a win, it showed that the team is committed to doing whatever it takes to earn an win.
With another week of practice under its collective belt, AHS should have an even greater grasp of the new offensive scheme, which should manifest itself through execution on the field.
If Avery can speed up the game with a deliberate offense, the defense has proven it can keep opponents in check and the team in the ballgame. Polk will have to help the Vikings with turnovers if AHS hopes to win this Friday night, and the Vikings have to find an offensive rhythm and the ability to find the end zone consistently for four quarters to be successful.
By the numbers
1 - successful fourth-down conversion in six attempts for the Vikings in last week's loss to Hendersonville
4 - touchdown runs by PCHS quarterback Alec Philpott in last week's win at Mitchell
8 - passing yards by Polk in last week's 36-20 win
13 - tackles by Avery's Austin Robbie to lead the Vikings defense against Hendersonville.
133 - yards in total offense for the Vikings in last week's game
Read next week's edition of The AJT for a recap of this week's contest at Madison, as well as a preview of next week's home game against Madison.