Self Blair handoff

Sequoyah's Ethan Blair (10) takes a handoff from Cooper Self (3) during the Chiefs' 20-0 loss to Tellico Plains on Aug. 20 in Madisonville.

Sequoyah’s Week 2 visit to Polk County had the potential to be a battle of two teams searching for their first win since 2018, but the Wildcats’ 42-19 rout of Copper Basin has changed the approach.

The ball is in Sequoyah’s court now.

The Chiefs (0-1) might be disappointed with their performance in a 20-0 loss to cross-county rivals Tellico Plains, but depth issues have shored up for Sequoyah ahead of Friday night’s matchup.

The biggest difference is Remy Millsaps is expected to be back. Millsaps, a senior, has been cleared by a medical doctor, but is awaiting an assessment from the team trainer following picking up an injury in Sequoyah’s first scrimmage at Wartburg Central on July 30.

“With Remy and a couple other guys coming back we should gain about four starters on both sides of the ball,” Sequoyah Coach Ryan Bolinger said.

Millsaps’ addition adds a game changer to the roster that Sequoyah was missing when they hosted the Bears.

“With him, absolutely. He is very, very smart and knows both sides of the ball very well — not just his position, but everyone else’s as well. He is a great athlete and a tough kid. The biggest thing with him has been keeping him healthy,” Bolinger said. “Even before I got here he has not had a season where he didn't have an injury. We think, with getting some of those guys back … we are pretty excited going forward.”

Among others returning, Brody Gilreath will be at 100% after only having one day of practice before injuries and other issues forced him to play as a center to start the season. The senior may have to revive that role in Week 2 as COVID related unavailabilities are still hurting the Chiefs.

Alex Bible returns to the line after missing the opening week, as well as Levi Lanter, a tight end, linebacker and long snapper. The Chiefs had a pair of turnovers come from fumbled snaps in punting situations.

Millsaps will play both sides of the ball. With the few players back, the Chiefs expect to be more balanced in comparison to the 26 run plays and seven pass plays used against Tellico.

“I think so, with Remy back and a couple of other guys back on the line I think we can,” Bolinger said. “When we had guys go down in the fourth quarter, we were taking out our center and right guard and putting in guys who were inexperienced and that kind of limits you on what you can do.”

Polk County’s win snaps a two game losing skid to Copper Basin as well as their first win since beating Marion County 21-6 on Oct. 26, 2018.

“They are coming off a win and I expect them to be pretty high and excited. We expect them to continue to be motivated from that. They are pretty tough, watching them on film. They are solid and they have a couple kids who run the ball well,” Bolinger said. “They have some kids who will scrap and fight. I expect them to come out looking to go 2-0.”

The Wildcats run out of a split back veer offense that Bolinger likens a lot to the Chiefs’ plan. Polk will alternate between a tight end and two wide receivers or three wideouts overall.

“It is going to be kind of similar to ours, but it is a two back system. They will take a couple chances down the field throwing the ball and try a screen here and there,” Bolinger said.

Bolinger described the Wildcats defense as “scrappy,” led by senior linebacker Birch Bates, who is expected to be all over the field for Polk. However, the Wildcats’ core plays both sides of the ball and Sequoyah has the potential to wear them down throughout the night.

Sequoyah’s offense, with potentially five or six ball carriers, are built for that and the longest they can eat up the clock may work in their favor. Ethan Blair was the hot hand last week with 15 carries for 127 yards and could be the main guy again. If Gilreath returns as a center, that knocks the fullback group down a back.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Benton.

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