By Joey Nosler
This past Friday was pure domination by the Cassville Wildcats (9-0/6-0). They controlled the field from opening kickoff to the end of the game, in
their 38-0 victory over conference foe, Aurora (4-5/3-3).
On the night, the Wildcats had 355 yards total offense to Aurora's 164. Of Cassville's total offense, 253 were rushing yards, while Aurora was limited to 104 yards rushing.
Turnovers were a huge factor in the 'Cats' win, as they had five takeaways, four of them being interceptions.
In the first quarter, Aurora was on their own 17 and on five plays was only able to make it to their 32. On the Houn's' sixth play, senior Cody Ricklefs was in the right place at the right time, grabbing Cassville's first interception.
Ricklefs would take it back to the Aurora seven-yard line, which led to a four-yard touchdown run by junior Tim Orrell. Senior Nick Schlichtman would come in and kick the extra point, his first of five for the night, putting Cassville up 7-0 with 8:00 left in the first.
Aurora had to punt on their next drive, and on Cassville's second play of the drive, junior Brian Elkins busted free and ran for a 63-yard touchdown, giving the Wildcats a 14-0 advantage. Three plays later, senior Clay Craig picked off the Aurora quarterback, ending the first quarter.
Eight seconds into the second, Orrell connected with junior Michael Baker for a 25-yard touchdown pass and after a Schlichtman extra point, the 'Cats were up 21-0. Aurora's next drive led to a punt, but Cassville would lose the football, giving Aurora back possession.
Two plays later, Ricklefs got his second pick-off, leading to a touchdown run by Elkins, which ran the Wildcats' lead to 28-0. Aurora would punt again, but Cassville would, again, drop the ball and Aurora would recover. The Wildcat defense would step up again, forcing Aurora to go three and out. Three plays later, Orrell would connect with senior D.J. Meadows for a 52-yard touchdown pass and Cassville led 35-0.
Aurora's next drive would end with an interception by sophomore Ryan Rowley interception. Three plays later, senior Jason Bromley came in to kick a 52-yard field goal but missed, ending the half with Cassville up 35-0.
Bromley would get another chance to kick the ball through the uprights. With 8:58 left in the third quarter, Bromley hit a 24-yard field goal to put the 'Cats up 38-0, which would be the final score as neither team would score again.
Orrell, at quarterback, was incredible on the night, as he went three-for-three for 102 yards passing. He also rushed for a four-yard touchdown. Orrell connected on two passes with Baker for 50 yards and one touchdown and one pass with Meadows for 52 yards and one touchdown.
Elkins, another junior, was awesome on the night also, rushing for 116 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns. Other notables were: junior Jared Bouzek, who had 29 yards rushing on five carries, and freshman Jon Haney, who had 71 yards rushing on nine carries.
Defensively, junior Nick Pianalto was the leader with seven tackles, two sacks and one tackle for a loss. He was followed closely by senior Dustin Libertus, who was credited with six tackles and sophomore Ryan Rowley, who was credited with six tackles and one interception.
Senior Clay Craig also had a strong night with fivackles and one interception, and Ricklefs tallied three tackles and two interceptions. Junior A.J. Lee was credited with a fumble recovery.
Special teams did their jobs, as Bromley had seven kickoffs for 364 yards, an average of 52 yards. The senior also punted once for 36 yards and went one-for-two in field goals. Schlichtman was five-for-five on extra points for the night.
Senior Matt Boles was pleased with his team's performance this week.
"Well, we all did a good job," said Boles. "The line worked together and did a good job, and the backs did a real good job. Aurora, they just had some problems, and the mistakes led to
an easy victory. Five interceptions . . . it just kind of balled up into a big win."
This Thursday, not Friday, Cassville will travel to Seneca (9-0/6-0) for a huge game. This is an important game as the winner will claim both the Big 8 Conference and district championships. A victory will also send Cassville to the state play-offs.
This past week, Seneca had a hard fought win over Monett in overtime with the final score being 29-21.
"It's gonna be a tough game, but I think we're ready for it," said Boles. "I think we can take them."
Coach Large said he's looking forward to Thursday's match up against the Indians.
"It's going to be a good game; it'll be one of those games that's worth your admission at the gate," said Coach Large. "Seneca's a very good team, they remind me of us, having a big play receiver, a good back, a good defensive line and a defense that flies to the ball.
"With the way high school football is set-up, the best team wins and goes on to the play-offs, hopefully it's us, but if not, Seneca's a good team, too," said Large.