Wildcats dominate Cubs in Barry County Brawl
On Oct. 4, the Cassville Wildcats put their September losing streak behind them. After dropping three consecutive games to conference opponents, the Wildcats upset unbeaten and state-ranked Monett, crushing the Cubs 27-0 at Wildcat Field.
The spectacle of Homecoming was overshadowed mightily by the inaugural "Barry County Brawl."
While the football game between Cassville and Monett has always held special significance, it never had an official title until now. But with the title and traveling trophy, the Barry County Brawl now has a life all its own.
Monett came into the game with a gaudy 5-0 record, hopes of a Big 8 title and expectations of another deep run into the Class 3 playoffs.
While the playoffs are still a month away, the Wildcats exposed the Monett team as more Clark Kent than Superman and showed that they still have a lot to say about who will win the Big 8 Conference.
The Wildcats improved to 2-4 overall while the Cubs slipped to 5-1.
Cassville won this game with an old-fashioned approach. The simplified offense spent almost the entire game in the I-formation, with a healthy dose of wishbone in the red zone.
Coach Lance Parnell's offensive scheme was as simple as possible: run the ball inside until the defense stops it, then run it inside and refuse to be stopped.
As the game wore on and the Cubs wore out, Cassville eschewed the shotgun and the option in favor of chewing up the defense with smash mouth football in between the tackles. The Wildcats shredded the Monett interior, amassing 21 first downs for the game.
The Wildcats took full advantage of their size, controlling the line of scrimmage and the clock throughout the game. Cassville won the time of possession stat by a nearly 3-1 margin, 35:12 to 12:48, and snapped the ball 71 times to just 41 for Monett.
Cassville's defense earned comparisons to the championship teams of years past, hanging on a shutout of Monett's heralded offense in convincing fashion. The Cubs turned in a scorecard at night's end that was covered with turnovers, sacks, and negative yardage plays.
The only area of the game won by Monett was punting, and Cassville's Bradley Lueckenhoff could hardly be faulted. He made more field goals (two) than he attempted punts (one). Plus, Lueckenhoff's powerful kickoffs pinned the Monett offense 80 yards away six times.
The Wildcats opened the scoring with a dazzling catch-and-run by Chase Jackson on their first possession of the game.
"Cassville football, third-and-ten at the Monett 45-yard line. Gabe Kirk calls signals from the I-formation. He takes the snap and flicks a pass to Jackson in the left flat. He splits a pair of Cubs to find open field and he's gone! TOUCHDOWN CASSVILLE!"
Jackson's score gave the Wildcats the early 7-0 lead.
The same turnover gremlin that cost Cassville games against Seneca and Carl Junction then jumped up to bite Monett on the ensuing series. Wesley Abramovitz fumbled as he tested the Cassville defensive front.
The Wildcats recovered at the Monett 19-yard line. The Cubs held on a third-and-goal situation, but Lueckenhoff boomed a 27-yard field goal to give Cassville a 10-0 lead at the 6:16 mark of the opening quarter.
The Cubs then mounted their best drive of the night, trying to answer. Junior quarterback Zack Hammond drove his team 70 yards in 10 plays to reach the Cassville 10-yard stripe, a drive aided heavily by a roughing the punter penalty. But the Wildcats rose up and repelled the threat, dumping Cameron Witt for big losses on consecutive running plays.
On third and goal from the 25-yard line, Hammond's long pass was beyond the end line, and then Cassville forced an incompletion on fourth down.
Both teams failed to score in the second quarter, but Cassville dominated the line of scrimmage and the clock, and the half ended with the Wildcats still holding a 10-0 lead.
The third quarter was a nightmare for the beleaguered Monett defense. Brent Thompson wore out the Cubs on the opening possession of the third quarter. Thompson rushed seven times and catching one pass on a 12-play, 68-yard scoring drive that ate 4:49 off the clock. Hayden Prater scored out of the wishbone from two yards out as Cassville opened a 17-0 lead.
Monett gained one first down, and then punted the ball back to the Wildcats with 3:49 left in the third quarter. Kirk drove the 'Cats 61 yards in 10 plays, and Prater scored from six yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter to push the lead to 24-0.
The Cubs never could mount a scoring drive, and the ballgame was over when Hammond fumbled at the Monett 31-yard line with 11:05 left to play. Lueckenhoff's 33-yard field goal finished the scoring, creating a 27-0 display on the scoreboard with 6:01 to play.
Brent Thompson again led the Cassville rushing attack, gaining 104 yards on 24 carries.
Hayden Prater gained 80 yards on 18 carries, and scored twice in the red zone.
Chase Jackson had 33 yards on the ground and also scored on the 45-yard pass play.
Gabe Kirk completed all seven of his passes, although two of them went to Monett receivers. Kirk finished the night five for seven for 98 yards and a touchdown.
"I am very, very, very proud of you guys," Lance Parnell told his trophy-winning team in the post-game huddle on the field. "Now we start rolling. Let's keep moving forward and continue to improve."
Parnell listed several factors that contributed to the victory.
"We were finally healthy and that really helped," Parnell said. "We got to play to our strengths offensively. Our kids really turned it around defensively."
The Wildcats travel to Granby to play East Newton on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Big 8 shocker
Monett was not the only conference team to fall from the unbeaten ranks on this night. Carl Junction ruined Lamar's hopes of a perfect season with a miracle comeback in the final minute to drop the Tigers, 50-46.
East Newton ended a 31-game losing streak with a 16-0 shutout victory over McDonald County.
Seneca beat Mt. Vernon, 42-6.
Aurora beat Rogersville, 35-0