The Mustangs were looking to prove they have matured enough to rebound from a lackluster performance last week.
The Wildcats were looking to prove they can still play Wildcat football after two weeks of un-enthused play.
At the end, Walker Valley coach Glen Ryan and the Mustangs will go back to looking for elusive solutions for the problems of a missing in action offense after a 33-7 loss.
“Our offense just didn’t show up tonight. The defense played pretty well, but I want the team that played East Hamilton back again. We’ve got two weeks to find some answers,” said Ryan.
Polk head coach Derrick Davis, who had been looking for a four-quarter game from the Wildcats, felt as though a large weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
“I did not expect this (big of a win), but it’s what I’ve been looking for, for a long time,” Davis said of the revived Wildcats. “That’s what has been disappointing because I knew they had it in them. It shows that we can play four quarters. I thought tonight was a four-quarter game.”
Defensively, Polk held Walker Valley to only three first downs and 118 yards of total offense.
“I’m proud of our defense. I think they got a first down on a penalty in the first half. Then they didn’t get another one until we put some new guys in and then they ripped us. But, they needed to play,” said Davis.
The Wildcats set the tone on their first possession driving 64 yards to take a 7-0 lead. Polk quarterback Josh Sillas hit Blake Cross for a 20-yard pass and Chris Wimberley for 17 while Zach Miller carried the football six times capping the drive from six-yards out.
Miller, who was held to under 100 yards for the first time in 13 games last week, was back to his old self rushing 36 times for 173 yards and scoring four touchdowns. He added 27 receiving yards for an even 200 yards of total offense.
Polk scored again with just over two minutes left in the quarter capping another long drive that started at Wildcats’ 38. Sillas connected with Miler for 27 yards to the Walker Valley 16. Seconds later, Sillas rolled to his right looking for an open receiver before deciding to tuck the ball and skirt the sideline to the Mustangs’ 1-yard line. From there, Miller went airborne to cover the distance. A blocked point after attempt made it 13-0 at halftime.
“I was concerned even at halftime. They (Walker Valley) came back from 17 down against Rhea County and 21-0 against Sequoyah. They had a shootout with East Hamilton for three quarters and came back against East Ridge. We were not at ease at halftime with just a 13-0 lead.” the Polk coach said of the much improved Mustangs.
Davis needn’t have worried. The Wildcats held Walker Valley to a three-and-out to open the third quarter then opened a hole for a Miller 38-yard run to the Walker Valley 25-yard line. Devin Weber carried 10 yards to the 1-yard line where a Sillas sneak capped the 62-yard scoring drive that put Polk on top 19-0.
The Wildcats landed the knockout blow on a fourth-and-1 with just over eight minutes left in the game on a fake punt that saw Sillas hook up with Reno Wimberley for 30 yards to the Walker Valley 8-yard line. Miller put the final touches on the drive with a TD from the 3.
Tristen Senn picked off the next pass thrown by the Mustangs and raced 40 yards for an apparent Polk County score. But a block in the back penalty put the Wildcats at the Mustangs’ 35-yard line. Miller carried six times in the seven-play drive putting the final points on the board for Polk with an easy seven-yard skip to the end zone.
Walker Valley spoiled the shutout for the Wildcats when Avery Jones broke through the Polk defense and raced 63 yards untouched for the lone Walker Valley touchdown to make the final score 33-7.
“We needed this as a team, and I needed this. You doubt yourself and wonder if you can get it out of them. I appreciate their effort this week in getting ready to play,” said Davis.
Walker Valley 0 0 0 7 — 7
Polk County 7 6 6 14 — 33
PC — Zach Miller 6 run (Reno Wimberley kick), 7:14
PC — Miller 2 run (kick failed), 2:11
MC — Josh Sillas 1 run (conversion failed), 7:48
PC — Miller 3 run (Wimberley kick), 8:32
PC — Miller 9 run (Wimberley kick), 4:00
WV — Avery Jones 63 run (Kevin Sabany kick), 3:39
First downs 3 14
Rushes-yards 22-104 54-229
Passing yards 14 100
Total yards 118 329
Comp-Att-Int 2-8-3 5-5-0
Punts -Ave. 4-35.5 5-33
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties 2-10 6-56
Rushing: Avery Jones 3-71 TD, Colton Morrow 9-28 (WV); Zach Miller 36-173 4 TDs, Devin Weber 5-26, Josh Sillas 5-16 TD (PC).
Passing: Cory Cook 1-7-3 8, Tanner Dillard 1-1-0 5 (WV); Josh Sillas 4-4-0 73, Isaac Smith 1-1-0 27 (PC).
Receiving: Alex King 1-9, Cooper Melton 1-5 (WV); Zach Miller 1-27, Reno Wimberley 1-27 ,Blake Cross 1-20, Chris Wimberley 1-17, AJ Pittaway 1-10 (PC).
Records: Walker Valley 3-3; Polk County 4-1.