Coach: Derrick Davis 86-38 (here and overall)
Returning starters (O/D/K): 7/6/0
Remember these names: Al Akins (Sr., 6-2, 185) is making the move from split end to quarterback where he’s taking over for all-state performer Jared Allen, who signed a baseball scholarship with the University of Tennessee. Coach Davis said any drop off in talent level may not be as huge as some might be anticipating. Derrick Saxe (Sr., 6-0, 215), who led the team in rushing attempts last season, returns at fullback. Inside linebackers Coty Farmer (Sr., 5-9, 195) and newcomer to the lineup Zack Miller (So., 6-0, 220) are expected to be defensive leaders. Davis said Miller, who started one game as a freshman, has shown improvement finding the football and bringing down the ballcarrier when he gets there.
Will be a memorable year if: The Wildcats are trying to earn a third consecutive league championship. They graduated quite a bit of offense from last year in quarterback Jared Allen and wingback Tyler Lee, but having a starting offensive line consisting of four seniors and a junior should ease the burden for the newcomers to the backfield. “If we’re going to be successful this year, those guys are going to have to keep doing what they’ve been doing,” Davis said of the offensive linemen.
Aug. 19 at Bradley Central
Aug. 26 at Central
Sept. 2 McMinn Central*
Sept. 9 Chattanooga Christian
Sept. 16 at Sweetwater*
Sept. 23 Walker Valley
Oct. 7 Signal Mountain
Oct. 14 at Sequoyah*
Oct. 21 at South Pittsburg
Oct. 28 Meigs County*
* District 5-AA game
Considering the offensive production that graduated off Polk County's football team from last year, the Wildcats know if they're going to come close to matching the offensive numbers they put up last season, it's going to fall on the guys in the trenches.
Although gone is do-it-all quarterback Jared Allen and speedy wingback Tyler Lee, Polk County returns a surplus of running backs, and coach Derrick Davis expresses confidence in receiver-turned-quarterback Al Akins. The burden falls to the linemen to protect and create some running lanes.
Heading the senior-laden group is 5-foot-10, 245-pound guard Seth Phillips, who will be starting for the third consecutive year. Davis believes Phillips' experience will help with the progress of the younger guys who'll eventually play.
"I think it's pretty key for the offensive line to always communicate well," Phillips said. "For the most part we've played together through the middle school league and all that. We all seem to handle it well. We just need to win some ballgames."
Tackles Derek St. John (6-2, 275) and Marty Parris (6-2, 290) also are returning starters. Coty Black (5-7, 195) is the other senior and will play left guard alongside St. John. Center Caleb Bramblett (5-11, 265) is a junior.
"The ones we've got coming back are going to be good," St. John said. "We've got to get to where the newcomers don't have to think about what they're doing and do things out of habit. The key for us will be holding our blocks as best we can."
The Wildcats are seeking to win the District 5-AA championship for a third consecutive time. They averaged 38 points per game last season and had one stretch in which they scored at least 40 points in eight successive games -- part of a 10-game winning streak.
The linemen may not score any touchdowns, but they'll be expected to pave the way for many.
"We're looking for those guys to kind of set the tone for us on offense," Davis said.
Forget this new-fad spread offense with footballs flying all over the place and even the running game based out of a shotgun formation. The Wildcats came up with a blueprint for success a long time ago their sticking with it.
Coach Davis played for his father, Larry, in the 1980s. Back then, and even before then, Polk County ran from a two-tight end formation.
Larry retired, but came out of retirement to be offensive coordinator when his son was hired as head coach. In 2011, opponents are still having to prepare for that same old-fashioned offense.
“We’re a two tights team,” Derrick Davis said. “You don’t see that very often now. We’re probably one of the few teams that never get in the shotgun.”
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.