Wildcats return to state quarterfinals
The Cassville Wildcats remained perfect on the season with a 42-12 Class 3 sectional victory over Pleasant Hill at Wildcat Stadium on Monday night. The Wildcats used a dominating ground game to dispatch the Roosters, running for over 350 yards and maintaining possession for over 31 minutes of the 48-minute contest.
With the victory, the top-ranked Wildcats earned a return trip to the Class 3 quarterfinals, where they will again play Logan-Rogersville, a 34-14 winner over Springfield Catholic.
Ricky Nichols returned to action after sitting out Cassville's regional victory over Clinton, and the senior signal caller responded with a stellar performance. Nichols ran for over 100 yards and two touchdowns and threw for over 100 yards, including a 29-yard scoring strike to Josh Sexton.
Both Chris Dunker and Kyle Brattin scored on the ground for the Wildcats, with Dunker breaking free for a 46-yard touchdown run.
Cassville led 21-0 after Nichols connected with Sexton on the first play of the second quarter, and left the field at halftime with a 35-6 advantage.
The Roosters ran for only 27 yards on the night and were completely dependent on their passing attack. Senior quarterback Josh Griffith found Hunter Melies with a 32-yard bomb for Pleasant Hill's only offensive score of the night, and finished with only 135 yards passing.
Except for the lightning-strike score by the Roosters on a desperation fourth-down play, the Wildcats played a near-perfect first half. Five offensive possessions became five Cassville touchdowns, and the defense only allowed the Roosters across midfield once in the first two quarters of play.
Justin Pflug especially terrorized Pleasant Hill with his determined play on defense.
The Roosters scored again when Nichols fumbled the second snap of the third quarter, and big Matt Hobbs recovered and rumbled 25 yards for the score. Griffith threw incomplete on the try for two though, and Cassville still led by 35-12.
The Wildcats chewed up the second half clock with a pair of 13-play drives, and Brattin's one-yard scoring plunge and the subsequent Garrett Barnes' PAT with 7 minutes left to play ended the scoring.
"Great job," Cassville's David Large told his Wildcats in the postgame huddle. "You guys put it away in the first half."
Large reminded his team of the magnitude of the upcoming quarterfinal game against Logan-Rogersville.
"Saturday afternoon games are special," he said. "We have to play great football and not have a hiccup against Rogersville like we did in the third quarter tonight."
For the fourth year in a row, Cassville (12-0) and Logan-Rogersville (11-1) will meet in a quarterfinal game. The 2009 contest -- won by Cassville, 21-20 -- is remembered by most of those in attendance as "the best high school football game I ever saw." The game on Saturday between two of the best Class 3 teams in Missouri should have the same atmosphere.
Kickoff at Rogersville is set for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
In other Class 3 action on Monday night:
* St. Genevieve defeated Park Hills Central, 30-7.
* John Burroughs defeated Lutheran North, 42-12.
* North Callaway defeated Southern Boone, 24-0.
* Osage defeated Boonville, 38-20.
* Richmond defeated Maryville, 21-2.
O'Hara and Renaissance Academy were rescheduled for Tuesday night.
Other games of local interest:
* Class 1: Skyline defeated Miller, 54-34.
* Class 2: Lamar defeated El Dorado Springs, 62-6; and Liberty (Mountain View) defeated Fair Grove, 61-26.
* Class 4: Hillcrest defeated Union, 28-21; and Webb City defeated Helias, 63-21.
* Class 5: Nixa defeated Branson, 41-15.
Editor's note: The game can be viewed online at www.krmo.com. Just click WebTV and the Cassville Wildcats button. Go Wildcats!