Rogersville wins battle of the Wildcats
Forget the turnovers, forget the penalties, forget the weather, forget the hype. The Logan-Rogersville Wildcats buried Cassville's championship hopes with a 28-7 victory in a Class 3 playoff game at Rogersville on Saturday. After three years of losing to Cassville in the quarterfinal round, the maroon Wildcats finally advanced to the semifinal round.
Even though the running back duo of Dylan Cole and Joe Zimmer ran for 183 and 107 yards respectively against the vaunted Cassville defense, the story of the game was the Rogersville defense. The maroon Wildcats limited Cassville to a mere 112 yards of total offense and came up with four turnovers.
The Cassville offense, which steamrolled Pleasant Hill with over 350 rushing yards, was totally contained by the Rogersville defensive scheme. Cole keyed on Ricky Nichols on every snap from his linebacker spot, and the D-line bottled up Kyle Brattin. With the wind howling at field level, Cassville's passing game was ineffective with the Wildcats battling both Rogersville and the clock in the second half.
Cassville managed only two first downs in the first half, as Rogersville swept to a 28-7 halftime lead. The home team scored almost immediately after Cassville fumbled on the first offensive play of the game. Then Cole stunned the white-shirted Wildcats with a 73-yard scoring run to produce a 14-0 lead.
Nichols provided the only score for David Large's team with an 89-yard kickoff return to cut the margin to 14-7.
But Cole's second touchdown run of the game put Rogersville ahead, 21-7, with the game still in the first quarter. Then Rogersville quarterback Evan Gruener found Aaron Orchard open on a skinny post route for a 45-yard catch and run that opened up the 28-7 lead.
By game's end, the Cassville stat sheet was woefully short. The Wildcats managed only four first downs for the game. On eight first-half possessions, Cassville suffered three turnovers, punted three times, turned the ball over on downs without a first down and took a knee after holding Rogersville on fourth and one in the red zone.
"Good teams will do that to you," reflected Cassville's David Large after the game.
It was a scenario that Cassville fans were used to seeing inflicted on the opponents of their Wildcats and was not what they expected when they arrived en masse at the Rogersville stadium.
The second half saw more of the same: Rogersville trusted its defense to contain Nichols and company, while their offensive unit was content to run the ball, eat clock and avoid turnovers. Three Cassville possessions in the third quarter produced no first downs.
It wasn't until the fourth quarter that Cassville snapped the ball on the Rogersville side of the 50-yard line. That promising drive fizzled when Nichols was sacked for a loss of 11 yards on third and eight at the Rogersville 40.
Cassville's final possession ended with an interception on fourth and four. Rogersville efficiently ran out the final 4:39 and earned the first quarterfinal win in the history of its program.
"The farther you get, the tougher the losses are," said Large. "This doesn't take away from the great year that our kids had."
Cassville ends the season with a 12-1 record. Logan-Rogersville improved to 12-1 and will travel north to take on Richmond, the defending Class 3 state champions. The Spartans downed O'Hara in their Saturday quarterfinal game, 51-7. The other Class 3 semifinal pits undefeated Osage (13-0), a 63-21 victor over North Callaway, against John Burroughs (12-1), which defeated St. Genevieve, 49-7.
Other games of local interest
Skyline fell to Valle Catholic, 41-8 in a Class 1 quarterfinal game.
The Lamar Tigers of the Big 8 Conference continued their march through the playoffs. The Tigers defeated Liberty (Mountain View) 33-18 to earn a spot against Maplewood-Richmond Heights in one Class 2 semifinal.
Webb City throttled Hillcrest 49-0 in their Class 4 quarterfinal game. The undefeated Cardinals will play Savannah (12-1) on Saturday.
In Class 5, both Nixa and Camdenton were quarterfinal losers. Kirkwood put away the Lakers, 46-18, and Lee's Summit West thumped the Eagles, 42-3.