Coach John Allen and his Central Purple Pounders had watched hours and hours of Polk County film in preparation for Friday night's clash with the Wildcats.
They were well aware that senior fullback Zach Miller is the man for the Wildcats and that his number would be called more than anyone else.
Yet there was nothing the Pounders could do as Miller picked up 209 yards on 23 carries and scored three touchdowns as the Wildcats headed back to Benton with a 35-15 victory at Central Memorial Stadium.
"I'm not sure we've ever won on this field, so it's nice to get a win on the road," Polk coach Derrick Davis said after the game ended.
"This is a good win going into our off week, but Zach Miller makes me look like a really smart coach most of the time. He suffered a high ankle sprain late in the first half, but he should be okay," the coach continued.
Miller headed to the halftime break with his left shoe off and he returned with a lot of new tape, but even that didn't slow down the big guy.
He piled up 124 yards on 15 carries in the first half and scored touchdowns on runs of 8 and 1 yards. He added 85 more yards in the second on just eight carries as the game was pretty much decided at that point and Davis got a chance to let a bunch of players see some playing time.
Miller's third TD came on a 46-yard run on Polk's first possession of the second half, which extended the Polk lead to 28-9.
Chris Wimberley is another Polk County senior who had a big game. His only run in the first half was an 11-yard TD scamper while he added 67 more yards on just six carries in the second half. He also had a 97-yard touchdown run called back by a holding penalty.
While all of Polk's 323 total yards came on the ground, Central countered with 257 total yards, including 187 on the ground.
Terry Tiller gained eight yards on Central's first play, but the speedy senior went to the sideline with a leg injury and never returned. Kevin McKenzie picked up 27 first-half yards on six carries, but he too suffered an injury and didn't play in the second half.
Sophomore Isyah Funk picked up the slack for the Purple Pounders as he led the way for the Central runners with 79 yards on 18 attempts.
"Losing Terry Tiller early hurt and then we lost McKenzie, but Polk County has a good football team," said Central's Allen after a post-game talk with his players.
"Our goals haven't changed as it's a long season, but we were a couple of big mistakes from making this a much closer game. We knew exactly what the Miller kid was going to do on virtually every play, but we still couldn't stop him," Allen said.
Senior Sean Montgomery, who had a 32-yard touchdown run with 1:29 to play in the first half, was the second leading rusher for Central with 40 yards on two trips.
Central got on the board with 31 seconds showing in the first quarter when junior Tareq Faleh booted a 31-yard field goal. Montgomery's TD trimmed the Polk lead to 21-9 at intermission.
Then in the final seconds of the game, Central's Phillip Bonnington scored on a 13-yard pass play from Scout Morgan with 20 seconds to go for the final margin.
Defensively, Devin Weber and Blake Cross had interceptions for the Wildcats while Miller had a fumble recovery. Tyler Lowe had a fumble recovery for Central.
Central will be at home again next Friday to host District 6-AA foe East Ridge while Polk is off next weekend before going to East Ridge on Sept. 13.
Polk Co. 7 14 7 7 -- 35
Central 3 6 0 6 -- 15
PC -- Chris Wimberley 11 run (Reno Wimberley kick), 7:48 left in first;
Cen -- Tareq Faleh 31 field goal, 0:31 left in first;
PC -- Zach Miller 8 run (run failed), 10:40 left in second;
PC -- Miller 1 run (Luke Harrison pass from Josh Silas), 3:31 left in second;
Cen -- Sean Montgomery 32 run (kick wide), 1:29 left in second;
PC -- Miller 46 run (R. Wimberley kick), 9:02 left in third;
PC -- Silas 6 run (R. Wimberley kick), 6:13 left in fourth;
Cen -- Phillip Bonnington 13 pass from Scout Morgan (run failed), 0:20 left in fourth.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)