Moving on after big win at Polk
The Thursday night rivalry with Polk county continued this past week at Polk, and the Mountaineers came away victorious 25-7. On the Mountaineers’ first offensive possession of the game, the offense got on track and a six-play, 67-yard drive was capped with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Ben Young to Jesse Pitman. The Mountaineer offense continued its steady play with a 15-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter by Ben Robinson, and a 16-yard run by Ben Young and a 4-yard run by Noah Pitman in the third quarter. At the end of the night, the Mountaineer ground attack amassed 333 yards rushing on 47 carries.
As this season has unfolded, the Mountaineers have built a good and well-balanced offense. In the early games of the season, there was an emphasis on developing a solid ground game. Through the first nine games of the year, the Mountaineer ground attack has gained more than 2,600 yards.
The more impressive factor in that number is no one individual has carried the load. Moving forward, this puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses as they must prepare to defend multiple ball carriers. Of late, the air attack has got on track as well. To this point, the offense has gained more than 1,200 yards through the air. As is the case with the ground game, there are several capable and potent receivers, all of whom have caught touchdown passes and can make explosive plays when they catch the ball on the perimeter. The combined good play, both through the air and on the ground, makes the Mountaineer offense hard to defend by its upcoming opponents.
Not to be denied, the Mountaineer defense turned in one of its better performances of the year against Polk. The Polk offense broke containment twice Thursday night; once on a 35-yard run by Elijah Sutton from scrimmage and a 45-yard run by Dillon Overholt on a fake punt. When those two plays are taken away from the offensive total, the Mountaineer defense limited Polk to 116 yards. That is a pretty impressive night of work against a team that had won six of eight games this year.
The success started up front on the defensive line. They went into the Polk game with a good game plan and executed it well. The front four of Jesse Pressley, Trevor Self, Garrett Greene and Hudson Boone took control of the line of scrimmage and kept the Polk quarterback and running backs in check most of the night. Behind them, the group of Landon Miller, Ben Robinson, Hunter Johnson, Tyler McKinney and Preston Roe kept the pressure on Polk’s offense. The secondary turned in a solid performance as well. Polk didn’t complete a pass and Mitchell came away with two interceptions.
Although the Mountaineers are happy with the win, there is no time for celebration. This week they host Avery. This is another rivalry game with huge playoff implications. This game is a must-win for both teams. For the Vikings, a win means they would likely qualify for the playoffs. For the Mountaineers, a win means the Mountaineers will receive the No. 1 seed for 1-A teams in the Western Highlands Conference. There is a lot riding on the outcome.
For many years, this has been one of the bigger rivalry games for the Mountaineers. There have been many hard-fought battles between these two schools through the years. I expect this game to be the same. The kids on both teams are well acquainted with each other and have been playing against each other since the third and fourth grades. So, this will be a fun game to be a part of.
Fan support at the Polk game was adequate for both teams. This week, Mountaineer fans need to get back out to support the team heading into the playoffs. In past years heading into the playoffs, the great wave of fans has filled the stands to capacity to support the purple-clad Mountaineers. As the playoffs loom ahead, the young men on the 2017 team need to see loyal Mountaineer fans cheering them and filling the stands as the season moves on.
This Friday is also senior night at Memorial Stadium. Make plans now to come out for an exciting night of football and be a part of an old rivalry game renewed. Remember to wear your purple and make lots of noise in support of the team.
Chris Pitman gains his views from nearly 40 years of involvement with Mitchell athletics.