Wildcats claim dual championships
The Cassville Wildcats rolled through East Newton, 42-0, at Granby on Thursday night, clinching both the Big 8 Conference championship and the Class 3 District 12 title. The Wildcats finished the regular season with a 9-1 overall record and swept through both conference and district play undefeated.
"One if by land, two if by sea."
Those two lights could easily have been any car's headlights searching for a parking space above water in the East Newton High School parking lot on Thursday night. But not even the torrential rains could derail the Wildcats from their date with destiny.
The sea of mud at Don Johnston Stadium was no more an obstacle for Cassville than a kiddie-size slip-and-slide. Trevor Tanner ran for 126 yards on only five carries, and Joseph Gouvion totaled 138 more as Cassville racked up over 360 yards rushing against the Patriots.
The Wildcats never punted in the game, scoring touchdowns on their first six possessions. Only a pair of second-half fumbles deep in East Newton territory saved East Newton from a 50-point whipping.
In a game that will likely be remembered most for being Charlie Long's final regular-season game after 51 years of officiating, Cassville scored on the second play from scrimmage in both the first and second quarters enroute to a 35-0 halftime lead.
Joseph Gouvion scored on a 43-yard burst off left tackle for the first score of the game after only 25 seconds elapsed off the game clock.
Zach Vititoe rumbled for an 11-yard score at the 7:20 mark of the first period to build the lead to 14-0. Then Trevor Tanner decoyed the defense and scored on a 35-yard quarterback draw in the first minute of the second quarter.
Tanner swept around left end for a 57-yard touchdown on the 'Cats' next possession, and scored again on a pitch from Josh Lewright. That 13-yard jaunt opened the 35-0 margin necessary for the turbo clock to come into play later.
The Wildcats only non-scoring drive of the half ran out the clock with the ball at midfield.
East Newton fumbled on their first possession of the third quarter, and Cassville recovered at the 30-yard line. Gouvion bolted the distance through the worsening bog for a sixth Cassville touchdown.
Remarkably, Matt Angel connected on all of his PAT attempts despite the conditions. His #16 jersey was relatively clean at night's end, a testament to the Cassville blocking and his own athletic prowess.
The Wildcats recorded their second shutout of the season, and a relieved David Large commended his team for "taking care of business."
How dominant was the Wildcat defense?
East Newton snapped the ball inside Cassville territory only once on the final play of the game. Even that prized field position came as a gift on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Wildcats, who apparently over-celebrated following another decleating tackle.
Tanner and Gouvion share the Cassville Democrat's Player of the Week award.
Cassville will host a Regional playoff game on Wednesday, Nov. 4, hosting conference rival Aurora. The Houn' Dawgs defeated Mt. Vernon 8-0 on Thursday to advance into the playoffs.
The Monett Cubs fell to Seneca on Thursday night and will not be competing in postseason play. The Seneca team, which Large predicted would cause a stir in the Big 8, played their best ball late in the season and claimed the district runner-up spot in the playoffs.