The trip to St. Louis seemed like a long one, and even though it was exciting to watch the Hamilton Hornets beat the Valle Catholic Warriors in a tough 17-21 match, it seemed like an eternity before the Wildcats took to the Edward Jones Dome field on Saturday. Cassville fans were on their feet as the football team began their warm-up. None of us could keep from sneaking glances at the red and black clad opposition either.
The Bobcats looked impressive as they ran through tackle drills, and the Bowling Green fans brought their own intimidation tactics to the Dome through a series of powerful cheers. Although those cheers at times seemed like taunts, the Wildcat team and their fans used this time to mentally prepare for the battle ahead.
"We don't need to speak for our team," my husband, James, said as the Bowling Green crowd grew louder and louder. "They speak for themselves."
Cheers erupted from the Cassville side as the Wildcats finished their warm-up routine and headed off the field for one last pep talk. The crowd waited restlessly for them to return. Soon, the Cassville High School coaching staff emerged onto the field with the Wildcat team close in tow. Nothing could have prepared the Bowling Green fans for the cheers that rocked the stadium as the players on our roster were announced. I wondered what they were thinking as they listened to the announcer call out over 85 names.
Although the first quarter of the game was tough, Cassville's gallery of fans grew louder with each play. The CHS cheerleading squad had no trouble getting the fans on their feet during the game, and many crowd members remained standing throughout the entire contest. Their cheers seemed to spur the team on, and by the end of the first half, it was evident that the Wildcat football players would hold nothing back. They planned to leave it all on that field in St. Louis.
Bowling Green came back to the field with a renewed energy after the half-time intermission, but their efforts were short lived as the Wildcats proved that they were even more fired up and ready for any pass or drive that came their way. Toward the end of the fourth quarter, when it was apparent that Cassville had indeed defended its Class 3 State Championship title, the Wildcat fans offered up a victorious cheer. "Back-to-back, back-to-back, back-to-back," echoed through the stadium.
The Bobcat fans were on their feet in applause even before the final buzzer sounded. They knew their team had given it their all. It just wasn't enough to overpower the Cassville High School Wildcats.
Driving home from St. Louis was bittersweet. James and I talked about the highs and lows of the game. We contemplated what the senior Wildcat players must have felt walking off the field after the game, and we even took a few minutes to speculate about what the next football season would bring. Although we admitted that it is slightly sad to see this football season come to a close, we are also looking forward to basketball season, baseball season and all of the other seasons that will come this year and next.
I hope that all of the dedicated Wildcat fans who made the 250-plus-mile trip from Cassville to St. Louis will also be in the stands cheering on our other sports teams. Whether our Wildcats make it all the way to a state championship or just play their hearts out during the season, they need our support. Besides, what's more fun than being a Wildcat fan?