SHEFFIELD TWP. — As the regular season winds down and playoff scenarios are discussed, Keystone senior running back/linebacker Tyler Polen has noticed that not many people are talking about his Wildcats.
That’s fine with him.
Polen rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns while racking up 22 tackles in Keystone’s 49-14 Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division win at Brookside. The Wildcats’ victory keeps them on track for a showdown at home against Black River in Week 10 with the division title on the line.
Keystone also kept its playoff hopes alive.
“You look all over the place and you see these huge articles on (Black River’s Andrew) Vaughn and players from other schools,” Polen said. “No one is talking about us. That’s just fine … we feed off that. We’ll be the underdogs. We want to show them what we’re able to do. Other teams doubt us. That motivates us.”
Keystone (6-2, 5-0) will have to defeat Buckeye (4-4, 4-1) at home on Friday to set up the Black River showdown. The Pirates are 6-2 overall and 5-0 in the league after wiping out Firelands on Friday.
After Keystone took a 7-0 lead by controlling the clock with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ate up almost half of the first quarter, both offenses got on track in the second.
Polen opened the quarter with a 78-yard touchdown as the teams combined for 36 points and 363 total yards in the second 12 minutes.
The Wildcats answered a 7-yard Jake Morgan run that cut the Keystone lead to 22-14 by taking the ball 66 yards in just four plays to grab momentum back before halftime.
Senior quarterback Tyler Gullett, who carried the ball 14 times for 188 yards, capped the drive with a 21-yard run.
The Wildcats scored 20 third-quarter points to pull away. They ended the game with 338 yards rushing.
Most came from one play — a sprint draw with Gullett getting a shotgun snap and taking off between the left guard and left tackle.
In the first half, Gullett exploited the matchup for 160 yards and a pair of scores.
“We try to scheme for our best players, and Tyler Gullett is the best football player I have ever coached,” Keystone coach Rob Clarico said. “When we can get him in one-on-one matchups I always believe that is to our advantage against anybody,”
What the Wildcats did offensively came as no surprise to Brookside coach Thom Lesiecki. Stopping them from doing it was another matter.
“They did exactly what we thought they were going to do,” he said. “That’s not a negative against them. … They’re a very good football team that was going to run the football.”
C.J. Conrad closed the scoring with a 30-yard interception return. He also had 11 tackles and a pair of sacks.
TOP OF THE LINE: When it comes to press box food spreads, Brookside theater director Anette Corrao, who handles the food for the coaches and press box visitors, set the bar very high. She prepared seafood enchiladas with jumbo shrimp, spanish rice and chocolate cheesecake and/or 7-Up cake.