LOG MOUNTAIN — A strong running game and a shut down defense have defined just about every championship quality Bell County football team over the years and the 2012 team is no exception.
Through 12 games the Bobcat defense has given up just a little over 12 points per contest while allowing under 200 total yards per game. The running game is in very strong hands as senior Jonathan Polly has run for 1795 yards and 20 touchdowns while senior Ryan Collett has added 1040 yards and 23 scores.
It’s a testament to the offensive line of seniors Jonathan Burnett, Tan Hudson, Tyler Mills, Hunter Marcum and junior Cody Griffen.
“We’ve got a strong line, four seniors. We’ve all been together about all of our lives and we’re going good,” said senior center Hunter Marcum.
Polly has taken on the lead role at running back and brings a physical, hard-nosed style to the position that suits the team well. He had one of the finer playoff performances you’ll see in last week’s 35-14 win over LaRue County with 172 yards and four touchdown on 21 carries.
Coach Wayne Mills has called Polly a warrior on more than one occasion this season and called his go-ahead 39-yard TD run late in the third quarter Friday “one of the best runs I’ve ever seen here.”
Polly hit a hole along the left side of the line and either ran through or avoided four tacklers on his way to the end zone.
“I was following my fullback, D.J. Warwick, and a man kind of popped out and I just spun off of him, cut it back across the field, made a couple of people miss and then sniffed the pylon and dove into it,” the senior said. “It was a nice run I guess.”
Polly helped set the tone for the Bobcats Friday in the second quarter. The Hawk defense came to play and forced a three-and out and two turnovers on Bell’s first three possessions. Trialling 7-0, he ripped a 20-yard gain right up the middle, bouncing of one tackler and then delivering a punishing hit as he finished off the run.
“LaRue was playing good — anytime we play someone they come out out trying to play our style of football and smack us in the mouth, too. We wanted to wear them down a little bit. The line blocked well and the trap worked,” he said. “”I just try and do whatever it takes to help my team. If that’s what we need then I try to fight for yards and do what I can.”
That play helped get the Bobcat offense in gear. A couple of turnovers from the defense kept Bell’s offense in good field position in the second half and the offensive line continued to clear running lanes for Polly and Collett.
“We just realized that we were going to have to overpower them. We had to get down and dirty and get them out of there,” Marcum added. “They were out-physicalling us in the beginning and we realized we had to step it up and be Bell County football.”
The challenge is even greater this Friday as the Bobcats welcome Louisville Central to Dudley Hilton Field. The Yellowjackets have won two straight Class 3A state championships and four of the last five. Last season was Bell County’s first in Class 3A and they were eliminated in the regional championship game with a 26-0 loss at Central.
“We played them last year and we were unfamiliar with them. We didn’t realize how fast they were until we actually played them,” Marcum said. “This year we have a better idea what to expect and we know what we have to do. We want to have all the fans out because we’ll need a lot of support this week. They’re coming all the way from Louisville so we want to pack up Log Mountain and show them what we’re all about.”
Polly carried the ball just eight times in last year’s game against the Jackets, but was a force on defense at linebacker. He’s enjoying his role this season as one of the offense’s focal points after biding his time as back up the the last three seasons.
“Like coach Mills says a lot, I wanted it,” Polly said of being the feature back. “Which I did want it and wanted to do what I could to help our team and that’s just the bottom line.”
He said turnovers really hurt the Bobcats in last year’s regional championship game and the team has been looking forward to a re-match since the off-season began.
“Last season we kind of dug ourselves a hole and never could crawl out of it. This year we need to come off and hit them first and get the offense rolling. Last year we couldn’t move the ball against them,” said Polly. “It’s a big game. We want a state championship and Louisville Central is in the way and that’s the way we look at it.”