Boonville senior Josh Polk is a firm believer in giving 100 percent.
While playing football and baseball for four years at Boonville High School, Polk said he is a firm believer in doing everything at 100 percent.
“If I’m not doing something 100 percent and my mind is elsewhere, I need to look into something else,” Polk said. “That is one of my biggest pet peeves. I won’t do it. Every second I put into every game or cheering on in a game, I was truly going at it from the bottom of my heart. I wasn’t going to half-ass anything.”
Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough said Polk checks all of the boxes except for one to most coaches, and that’s physical measurements.
Of course none of that mattered to Polk on the football field. There he could be himself and just fly to the football while playing linebacker for the Pirates.
A three-time all-conference performer in both the North Central Conference and Tri-County Conference, Polk was also selected two years running on the Central Missouri All-District team.
But that’s not all. In addition to be named to the all-state team by the Missouri Football Coaches Association, Polk was also selected to the KMZU Dream Team and a Pirate Pride Award winner.
Polk’s career tackles also ranks among some of the best at Boonville High School. In his four-year career, Polk finished with a total of 295 tackles (177 solos, 118 assists) along with 30 tackles for loss, four fumble recoveries, three interceptions, 2.5 sacks, one blocked punt and one blocked field goal.
Polk also had his best senior this past season while finishing with 68 solo stops and 48 assisted tackles for a total of 116. He also had 14 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 interception and one blocked punt.
Polk said football was a one of a kind sport. He said it takes a lot more than just the 11 guys to go out on the field and play it.
“You need a team. You need a culture and you need a committee behind you to support you and one who wants to win,” Polk said. “You also need guys who are willing to come out in practice and push you every day. There are so many moving parts and I loved being a part of the team-one that trust each other and a group of guys that want to go out and do the right things when nobody is looking. To get the right things done out on the field and in front of the whole crowd.
“I mean it’s a lot more than just practice, it’s how you carry yourself in school, what you’re eating and what you’re putting into your body when you’re outside the school. It’s just a whole big thing. It takes every walk of your life to prep for football.”
Linebacker was by far Polk’s favorite position, though. Although listed at 5-10, 160 pounds-according to MaxPreps-Polk played much bigger on the field and hit just as hard as any player on the opposing team.
Polk also felt linebacker suited him the best because he is a “physical dude”.
“I like to go out there and get physical with people,” Polk said. “I like being in a situation to where I can see the field but I am also just close enough to get down in the trenches and get to where the popping is. It allows me to read and see what the other team is doing and see formations and what’s coming at me. Just go fly downhill and hit somebody in a bad mood.”
Although there were many highlights in his career in football, Polk said the game against Oak Grove this past fall in the district playoffs probably stands out above the rest. He said that was probably the most important game.
The Pirates rallied in the second half to beat Oak Grove 47-26.
“That was a huge win for us in districts,” Polk said. “It was a great environment and it was just great to be part of something that big and that important for our town and community and just being able to get things done on Friday was surreal.”
As for the best game of his career, Polk said it was probably on Senior-Parents Night this year against Hallsville. While the Pirates took it on the chin against Hallsville 27-14, Polk said it was probably the most physical game for him.
“We ran a 3-3 stack that game and I was allowed to play a little more inside and fly downhill,” Polk said. “My reads were like if I saw it just go. There were a lot of times where I was just running through the hole and hitting a lot of people. Honestly, it was just one of those games where it seemed like you kind of blackout. It was just all reaction and I was just playing downhill. I don’t think I ever made a false step or anything throughout that game. I was just locked in and zooming all over the field.”
Of course Polk also had a lot of funny moments in his career in football.
Although too many to mention, he said the funniest moment would probably be last summer on the trip to South Dakota with Coach Hough, Avian Thomas, Tramell Coleman and Lane West. He said there was a lot of cracking jokes during that trip but it was like a vacation because they were having a “ball” of a time.
As for his time on the ballfield for the Boonville Pirates baseball team, Polk said he loved this sport as well because they were a very successful team and had a very successful program.
While finishing 17-9 in his final season as it turned out, Polk hit a robust .282 with 11 hits in 39 at bats with 10 singles, one double and nine RBIs. He also scored eight runs.
Polk said baseball was a team sport that could be led by 1-2 players but you also needed guys in the right situation. He said one pitch could lead to a lot of big things.
“It’s just a lot of small stuff,” Polk said. “It really focuses on the small things like football does, where one error could cause some very big consequences. I just like the sports that causes attention to detail to make you succeed and baseball is one of those.”
As for not getting to strap on his shoes or play baseball his senior season, Polk said it really hurt because he liked bonding with his teammates and practices. He said he probably misses the practices more than the games because you are able to get things done and work towards the game.
Polk also wrestled one year at Boonville and liked the physicality of the sport but felt like he couldn’t gain the weight or muscle that he needed for football.
"I felt like in wrestling I was maintaining a weight of 138 pounds and I couldn’t gain,” Polk said. “I was just cutting all season and I wanted to get much bigger for football. I didn’t think I was going to be able to manage wrestling at a certain weight and then try to gain it all back throughout baseball. It was more of an issue that I couldn’t keep improving myself to get to where I wanted to be for football through wrestling even though wrestling honestly got me a lot more flexible and technique sound.”
Of course Polk will have time to work on his football for the next four years while playing at William Jewell College in Liberty. He said he will major in secondary education and hopefully get into coaching.
Aside from his time doing homework while at home due to COVID-19, Polk said if he’s not working out or playing his respective sport, he is probably hunting, fishing or playing the guitar.
As for his time at Boonville High School, Polk said he is definitely going to miss walking the halls and seeing the teachers and his friends. “I’m a firm believer that BHS has the best faculty in the world for all high schools,” Polk said. “I loved all my teachers. Every teacher I’ve gotten to be around and all the friends I’ve made the last four years. This place has set me up for so much and prepared me. I think we’ve had great academics and great athletics to be a part of. Some of these teachers have helped me and guided me in ways that I needed to grow into the man that I am.”
Of course Polk still has the kid in him and hopes that doesn’t change while attending William Jewell. In fact, he said he hopes his new home has a cheering section in the winter because he won’t know what to do if they don’t.
“Boonville is my hometown,” Polk said. “This is where I want to be. I would love to come back here and coach. I grew up here and learned all my valuable life lessons right here in this town since moving here in fifth grade.”