The Cassville Wildcats improved to 2-0 in Big 8 Conference play in a close game against the Carl Junction Bulldogs (2-2/2-2). The Wildcats (4-0/2-0) won the match up by a score of 28-13.
"I felt like we made some mistakes in the first half that hurt us and created some opportunities for Carl Junction," said Cassville Head Coach David Large. "We could've played better than we did, but we still were up by one point at halftime. In the second half, the team came out and played well and the kids put the game away, so I was proud of them on how they responded."
After both teams' defense forced a punt on the opening drives, Cassville went up 7-0 after a four-yard run by junior Brian Elkins with 6:17 left in the first quarter. Senior Nick Schlichtman came in and kicked the extra point.
On Carl Junction's next play, the quarterback dropped back to pass but tucked the ball in and ran for an 81-yard touchdown. The Bulldogs' extra point attempt was blocked by junior Jared Bouzek.
On Cassville's next possession, quarterback Tim Orrell dropped back to pass but was intercepted. Carl Junction managed to move the ball to the six-yard line by the time the first quarter time elapsed and 43 seconds into the second quarter, the Bulldogs' quarterback crossed the goal line, and after a successful extra point, Carl Junction led 13-7.
Cassville would later punt, but so would Carl Junction, and with 4:45 left in the first half, Orrell completed a pass to Elkins for a 44-yard touchdown. Schlichtman's extra point was good, and the Wildcats led 14-13.
In the second half, Cassville come out of the locker room like the team of the first three games. Senior D.J. Meadows picked off Carl Junction's quarterback at the start of the third quarter, which led to another Wildcat touchdown. Orrell passed to junior Michael Baker for 33 yards and Schlichtman added his third extra point of the night to put the 'Cats up 21-13. The score would remain the same until the start of the fourth quarter when Orrell connected with Baker, for a fourth time, on a 10-yard touchdown. Schlichtman kicked his fourth extra point, setting the score at 28-13.
Elkins was again the Wildcats' rushing leader, carrying the ball 25 times for 134 yards and one touchdown.
Elkins was asked how he felt after winning last week's game and he stated, "It felt good. I thought we played really well in the second half, after not playing good in the first. It felt really good to beat Carl Junction
because they're a really good team."
Also on offense, Orrell completed eight of 15 pass attempts for 165 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He completed one pass with junior Jared Bouzek for 30 yards, one pass with Elkins for 44 yards and one touchdown, one pass with senior Scott Fitzpatrick for 16 yards, one pass with Meadows for six yards and four passes with Baker for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
Other notables on offense were senior Cody Ricklefs, who had seven carries for 38 yards, and Baker, who carried the ball two times for 18 yards.
Senior Justin Burden was the star on defense with eight tackles, including two for a loss. Senior Dakota Russell also had a strong night, finishing with seven tackles.
Other defensive standouts were Meadows, who had five tackles and an interception, as well as seniors Clay Craig, Ricklefs, Fitzpatrick and Dustin Libertus and junior Josh Rambo who were credited with four tackles each. Craig also had a fumble recovery that was key in the win. Juniors Shelby Hollingsworth and Nick Pianalto
tallied three tackles each.
Special teams did their jobs as senior Jason Bromley kicked off five times for 278 yards, an average of 55.6. Schlichtman went four-for-four on extra points.
Next week, Reeds Spring (1-3) will come to Cassville to play a non-conference game, which also happens to be Homecoming.
"We've really got our hands full this week," said Coach Large. "I know that they are 1-3, but they're a really good team."
Burden is also predicting some tough competition from the Wolves on Friday.
"We've just got to hit them hard from the get-go," said Burden. "Hopefully, we can shut them down early and take care of business."
Kick-off for Friday night's home game will be 7 p.m. The 2005 Cassville High School Homecoming King and Queen and their court will be introduced at 6:45 p.m. A homecoming assembly and coronation cere-mony will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Friday in the CHS gym.