The score at the end of Cassville's Big 8 Conference opener against Mt. Vernon was 38-0. With such a lopsided point differential, fans who did not attend Friday night's game might not realize how closely the game was actually played.
The Wildcats (3-0/1-0) only had 137 total rushing yards for the night, while the Mountaineers (1-2/0-2) had 136. The Cats also added 51 passing yards to the Mountaineers' 23 for a total offense of 188 yards to Mt. Vernon's 159.
"I felt like the kids came out really ready to play again and did a good job from the opening kick-off," said Coach David Large. "Mt. Vernon really gave us some opportunities early, and instead of letting them squander away, the kids did a good job capitalizing on them.
"We were able to go up on them 17-0 early, five to fix minutes into the game, off of three turnovers by Mt. Vernon, and when you can do that and our defense plays the way it does, it sets you up for the rest of the game," continued Large.
In the first quarter, senior Clay Craig knocked the ball free from Mt. Vernon's punt returner on the fifth play of the game, sending an early message. Within minutes, junior Brian Elkins crossed the goal line on a one-yard run for an early six. Senior Jason Bromley came into kick the extra point, giving Cassville a 7-0 advantage.
After Elkins picked off the Mt. Vernon quarterback, Bromley came in to put a field goal through the uprights from 42 yards out, making the score 10-0. Elkins would later put the Cats up 16-0 on a two-yard run, after a fumble recovery by junior Shelby Hollingsworth. Bromley kicked the extra point to put the 'Cats up 17-0 with 6:37 left in the quarter.
Elkins scored his third touchdown of the night on a 21-yard run in the second quarter. At half, the 'Cats were up 24-0.
In the second half, junior Tim Orrell connected with junior Michael Baker on a 17-yard touchdown pass, putting the Wildcats up 31-0. In the fourth quarter, senior Cody Ricklefs grabbed intercepted the ball and ran it back 65 yards for a touchdown.
When asked how he felt about opening the conference with a win, Coach Large said, "Well, a lot of people had Mt. Vernon picked near the top this year, so we're real happy to get a win over them. We talked to the kids all week about how they had to play well from the opening kick-off. It's just good to get that first conference win under the belt, more than anything."
On offense, Elkins did his part again by carrying the ball 15 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Orrell completed four of the eight passes for 51 yards and one touchdown. He connected with Baker for 17 yards and one touchdown, once with Elkins for 15 yards, and twice with sophomore Dannon Rose for 11 yards. Baker also carried the ball four times for 19 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior Dakota Russell has 11 tackles and one sack while Craig was credited with six tackles and a fumble recovery. Other notables were seniors Justin Burden and Ricklefs, who
each tallied five tackles. Ricklefs also had an interception.
Juniors Josh Rambo and Nick Pianalto had four tackles while Rambo also had two sacks. Junior Shelby Hollingsworth had a fumble recovery, and Elkins had an interception.
Special teams did their part as Bromley kicked off seven times for 407 yards and an average of 58.1 per kick. He punted the ball five times for 174
yards, had one 42-yard field goal and went five-for-five on extra points.
The Wildcats look to continue their hot streak against Carl Junction (2-1/2-1) when the Bulldogs come to town this Friday. After a 21-6 loss to Monett (2-1/1-0), CJ is looking to turn things around.
"Carl Junction's got a great team, and Bret Gosch does a great job there," said Coach Large. "He used to coach here, and their coaching staff and our coaching staff are good friends. We know we're going to have to be ready to play.
"They're a team that can leave here with a win, so we're going to have a good week's preparation and have our kids ready to go," said Large.
Kick-off against Carl Junction will be at 7 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium.