SEMINOLE — Osceola coach George Palmer knew the biggest task for his defense was to slow down the big-play capabilities of Venice running back Terry Polk, who entered Friday’s game as the ninth-leading rusher in the state.
For a quarter, the Warriors did exactly what they wanted, containing the elusive back to 19 yards on eight carries.
But Polk can only be bottled up for so long. Because of his quickness, he is dangerous around the line of scrimmage. And if Polk gets past the linebackers his acceleration in the open field spells trouble for the defense.
One play can attest to that.
In the second quarter, Polk sprinted 50 yards for a touchdown. After that, he was off to the races, finishing with 228 yards rushing and five touchdowns to lead the Indians to a 48-0 victory that clinched the runnerup spot in Class 6A, District 7.
“We were hoping to keep things under control and keep the game in doubt going into the fourth quarter,” Palmer said. “But Venice has some explosive people on offense, and their running back is pretty special once he gets loose.”
Polk was in Osceola’s secondary on enough big plays that he could have been auditioning for safety. Of his 228 yards, 226 came on just five carries. Unfortunately, each of those carries resulted in big play touchdowns.
On Polk’s first touchdown, he left defenders grabbing air.
That has a lot to do with his style. Because Polk is so quick near the line of scrimmage and can make people miss, he needs only a small seam and he can be gone. His linemen do not have to sustain blocks for long.
Polk added to the lead with touchdown runs of 7 and 39 yards in the second quarter. Venice quarterback Dom Marino hit Isaac Whitney on a 50-yard scoring pass in the final minute of the first half to make it 27-0.
Osceola (6-4, 2-2) hoped to use its power running game to sustain long drives and keep the Indians’ explosive offense off the field. But after gaining three first downs on their first two drives, the Warriors didn’t have another first down until the fourth quarter.
Venice did not need much time to score. The Indians reeled off touchdowns on seven straight possessions, each on drives of five plays or less.
In the third quarter, Marino zig-zagged through the defense on a 50-yard touchdown run. On the next possession, Marino hit Polk on a 37-yard scoring pass to make it 41-0. Polk rounded out the scoring toward the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, a running clock was used.
“Venice is a strong team all the way around,” Palmer said. “We’re not the fastest team there is, and we had a hard time staying with them once they got going. But I’m proud of our team the way they played all season.”