Wildcats are headed to the Dome
It has been a long, hard-fought road, but last Saturday the Cassville Wildcats made history once again as they seized a 14-13 victory over the number-one ranked Chillicothe Hornets in a very close and intense battle that had everyone on the edge of their seats until the very last second of the game.
The stands were full on both sides of the stadium, and the air was charged with anticipation as Aaron Jamieson set the game in motion with a smashing kick-off that landed in the endzone and gave the Hornets no opportunity to return on their first possession of the game.
From there, the next five drives saw both teams holding their ground as each team in turn forced the other to punt away, or turn over on downs.
However, the Wildcats took control of the game on their third drive as Trevor Tanner crossed the goal-line on an 82-yard touchdown pass from Jake Nolan. Jamieson followed up with an extra point to give Cassville a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Hornets would go on to answer the Wildcats with their first touchdown early in the second quarter as they ran the ball in from deep inside Cassville territory. With their extra point, the game was then standing at a dead-even 7-7.
On the following drive, the Wildcats were unable to score and were forced to punt, and in a twist of fate, the Hornets muffed the kick and allowed Brent Elkins to recover the ball for Cassville.
This would later prove to be a costly mistake for Chillicothe as Nolan eventually ran the ball into the end zone to score Cassville's second touchdown.
Jamieson kicked the extra point to leave the score standing at 14-7.
On the next drive, Cody Pierson intercepted a pass that gave Cassville an opportunity to run more time off of the clock.
When the Hornets were finally able to force the Wildcats to punt, it left them with only 10.8 seconds to play before half-time and they were unable to change the score before the clock ran out.
While the first half seemed to belong to Cassville, the second half was much more intense, and although the Wildcats had the first possession of the third quarter, they were unable to make anything happen, turning the ball over on downs.
Both teams continued to fight with no success at scoring until the fourth quarter.
Continuing a long drive that started at the end of the third quarter, the Hornets steadily moved the ball up field and eventually completed a touchdown pass that put the Hornets within one point of tying the game again.
The Wildcats were able to put enough pressure on the kicker that he missed the extra point and left Cassville with a slim one-point lead.
The pressure continued to build as the Hornets intercepted a pass on the next drive, which the Wildcats then answered on the following drive as Trenton Tanner intercepted a pass to give Cassville the ball back.
The Wildcats were again forced to punt on the next possession, and the Hornets were able to gain good field position.
Chillicothe was dangerously close to gaining the yards they needed to bring up a first down that would have given them plenty of time to score at the end of the quarter when Trenton Tanner made his second interception to sealed the victory for the Wildcats.
Nolan took a knee on the final snap to run out the remaining seconds on the clock and place the final score at 14-13 as fans and teammates alike began to celebrate the largest victory in the school's history.
Head Coach David Large gave his thoughts about the team's performance this week against such a tough rival.
"I was proud of how our kids found a way to win; they played with a lot of heart," said Coach Large. "Our defense played incredible. Coach Parnell did a great job of getting our defense prepared."
Although the Wildcats had a great game, Coach Large still wants to remain focused on the upcoming game.
"This was a big win for our program and our community, but we still have unfinished business," said Coach Large.
He also added that he hopes that the fans will have the opportunity to come out to watch the Wildcats compete this Friday.
"Hopefully we can have the biggest crowd at the Dome out of all of the teams playing this weekend." said Coach Large.
Looking at the offense this week, Cassville accumulated 224 yards of total offense while Chillicothe tallied 327 yards.
Nolan passed for a total of 119 yards, and Trevor Tanner received for all 119 yards in the game.
The running game saw Joseph Gouvion emerge as the top rusher this week with a total of 72 yards. Jon Haney was second for the afternoon with a total of 21 yards, Nolan followed very closely at 20 yards, and Ethan Couch made up the rest with 10 yards on the run.
The defensive players had a very busy afternoon with Couch making the most tackles in the game with a total of 14. Matt Stockton had seven tackles, Nathan Riehn and J.R. Woodruff each had six, Josh Lewright, Garret Mahurin and Pierson had five apiece, Chris Smith and Trenton Tanner both had four tackles, Brent Elkins had three tackles, and Travis Northern had one tackle.
The special teams also had a good day with Jamieson kicking off three times for 164 yards, and punting six times for an impressive total of 247 yards.
This Friday, Nov. 28, the Wildcats will travel to the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis to play for the Class 3 State Championship against the Cardinal Ritter Lions.
The game will begin at 4:15 p.m. Advanced tickets are on sale at the high school for $11 each and may also be purchased at the gate for $12 each.
Arrangements for charter buses to take fans to the game have been made, and anyone interested should contact Mike Carr for pricing.
Cassville High School will also be taking a prep bus and a bus for the band. The buses will leave Friday morning.
Fans are reminded to be aware that security will be strict at the game. Cameras will be permitted, but items such as chair backs, backpacks, rally towels and noise makers will be prohibited.