Americus-Sumter head football coach Michael Pollock, in his third year, wasn't on the sidelines when his team faced Macon County this past Friday, and it remains unclear why and whether he'll be back for the Panthers' Region 1-AAAA opener Friday at Hugh Mill Stadium against Albany High in The Herald's Game of the Week.
WHO: Herald No. 5 Americus-Sumter (2-1) at Albany High (1-2).
WHAT: Region 1-AAAA opener for both teams.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
WHERE: Hugh Mills Stadium.
LIVE SCORING UPDATES: twitter.com/AlbHeraldsports.
AMERICUS — As The Albany Herald’s Game of the Week, Americus-Sumter’s Region 1-AAAA opener against region newcomer Albany High on Friday was already full of excitement and anticipation.
Now, it’s also shrouded in a bit of uncertainty and mystery, as well.
Panthers head coach Michael Pollock told The Herald on Tuesday afternoon that — as of right now — the team has an “acting head coach” in offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Chris Wade. Pollock added that he “can’t comment” on whether he’ll be on the sidelines with his team Friday at Hugh Mills Stadium. Pollock did, however, confirm he missed last week’s home game against Macon County — a 34-18 Panthers win to improve their record to 2-1 and move them back into The Herald’s Fab 5 Poll at No. 5 — but refused to say why.
“I just can’t comment on everything just yet,” said Pollock, who is in his third year as coach of the Panthers — the region runner-up the past two seasons. “I don’t know (what my status) is, and I can’t say much else about it.”
Pollock, nor Wade, would confirm or deny rumors that Pollock had been suspended, or when Pollock was told he would not be coaching last Friday or what the absence is a result of.
A source, however, told The Herald on Tuesday that Pollock was suspended for last week’s game stemming from an incident that occurred during a recent practice. The source declined to elaborate about the incident and was unsure whether Pollock would be back for Friday’s game.
“It’s a tough situation right now,” said Wade, who was an assistant at Americus from 1995-2001 before returning two years ago to become Pollock’s OC. “We’re just trying to keep the focus on Albany. And that’s all I can really say.”
Donnie Smith, the Superintendent of the Sumter County School System, also declined to comment, calling Pollock’s case “a personnel matter,” but Smith added that he hoped to be able to elaborate further “soon” on what Pollock’s status is as the coach of team and as a teacher at the school.
“I can’t make a statement at this time. I’m sure you’ve heard all sorts of stuff about what happened, but right now it’s a personnel matter, and I can’t say one way or another (about coach Pollock’s status),” Smith said. “The only statement I can give is that Chris Wade is our acting head coach, and we’ll share what we can (about Pollock’s situation) hopefully soon.”
Pollock said he knows exactly what he would tell his team if he was able to before Friday’s crucial 1-AAAA opener.
“(I would tell them) that I expect them to go out, take care of business and be 1-0 in the region after Friday,” the coach said.
Wade, meanwhile, is now tasked with keeping the Panthers’ heads in the game. And he said he felt the team did that in the face of adversity last Friday.
“As soon as the last game ended, I told them they rose to the occasion after being put in a difficult situation, not having head coach there, not knowing why,” Wade said. “I told them I was proud of them for the way they responded. They were very focused, and they took care of business.
“All we can do at this point is watch film on Macon County, go out and keep doing what we’re doing, trying to get better. We can’t use this as an excuse. We have to be prepared.”