Zach Miller gave new meaning to the phrase "icing on the cake" for Derrick Davis.
The Polk County coach got his 100th career win as the Wildcats locked up their fourth straight district championship by handing Sequoyah its first 5-AA loss of the year Friday night.
And Miller made sure of the milestones by rushing for an area-record 411 yards, six touchdowns and a two-point conversion. The showing earned Miller the honor of Times Free Press player of the week.
"You know, I had given a little talk to the guys on Thursday about giving it all they had, and he texted me Friday morning and said, 'I'm going to give it my all tonight,'" Davis recalled. "I texted him back and said, 'Get ready because you're going to carry us tonight.'"
Neither coach nor runner realized how prophetic either's words would be.
Operating behind center Christian Elliott, guards Matthew Wilson and Tanner Plemons and tackles Walker Hood and Caleb Bramblett, Miller broke Derrick Sax's school record of 316 yards set last year.
His 44 rushing attempts are the state's fifth-highest ever for one game, and the 411 yards rank as the state's eighth-best single-game showing. His six rushing touchdowns place him in a ninth-place tie with numerous players.
The previous single-game best in the Chattanooga area belonged to Charleston's Nick Ownby, who gained 379 yards in 1997. Tops inside Hamilton County remains Ooltewah's Blake Foster with 359 yards in 2002.
Asked how he coached such a performance, Davis laughed and then replied, "You just keep sending in plays that he runs."
The Polk coaches had joked all week, mimicking tossing a saddle on a horse, about having to ride Miller and their offensive line because their starting quarterback (Duncan Coffey) was out with a broken collarbone and his backup (Josh Silas) was hobbled with turf toe.
"I had no idea how many yards he had till I got to the locker room," Davis said. "Out on the field you're just living from one play to the next. We didn't really put the game out of reach till the fourth quarter, and I pulled him about midway. I guess I could've left him in there and he could've gotten no telling how much."
But the coach said it was just a pure and simple delight to watch Miller at work. He liked it so much he reviewed the game video a couple of times and then couldn't get to sleep when he finally went home to bed, due to the game itself and its meaning, some pain medication for a bad foot that worked the wrong way and more than a dozen Dr Pepper soft drinks.
He kept thinking about calling out to Miller and asking if he'd had enough, if he needed a breather, knowing full well that Miller wasn't about to come out. And Saturday he wasn't really worried about his big fullback being sore.
"He was the one dishing out the punishment out there, especially late," Davis said. "That's what I liked about it. They knew our quarterbacks were hurt and what was coming. They knew he was coming, and we kept making it work."
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...