Past, present meet at Wildcats Alumni Night

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
A total of 22 former football players and graduates of Cassville High School, in the early to mid-1960s, attended the Alumni Night Friday at the Wildcats' home opener against Mountain Grove. The group enjoyed a barbecue dinner before being recognized prior to the game. Kyle Troutman

1966 Cassville graduate has senior grandson on team

At its football home opener Friday night, Cassville recognized many of its past players from the 1960s, and one man who was recognized has a special connection with the Wildcats nearly 50 years after he graduated.

Dan Miller, 66, of Cassville, is a 1966 graduate of Cassville High School who was a guard on the football team. But for Miller Friday night, being recognized was only part of the fun, as he got to watch his grandson, Cade Pendergraft, play against No. 5-ranked Mountain Grove.

Although the result was not in the Wildcats' favor, losing 30-19, Miller said it's always fun to watch his grandson play.

"He makes me real proud," Miller said. "He's a good player and I love seeing him out there because it makes it a little more fun for me two watch."

Despite the loss, Pendergraft played well in the game, racking up 48 yards on two catches and 31 yards on two rushing attempts.

"It's a good experience and cool to have him watch," Pendergraft said. "He always tells me to keep my head up, and if things don't go as planned, to keep moving on."

Miller said there are a lot of differences between games in the 1960s and games now.

"We were still playing against teams like Carthage, Webb City and Neosho, so it was tough to compete with them, and if we won five games, that was a good season," he said. "The kids are so much better-coached now and they're taught how to play at a younger age. Back then, we didn't play at all until freshman year.

"Now, the coaches good job teaching the finer points of play, and I don't think other teams are as well-coached as [the Wildcats]."

Miller said he has been coming to Cassville games regularly over the past 11-12 years.

"The attendance is much bigger now, but the town has grown a little bit since I played," he said. "It's so much fun to come back [for Alumni Night] and see those guys you went to school with."

Lance Parnell, Wildcats head coach, said he's proud of a program that gives such attention to its alumni.

"Cade is a senior and a good leader, and he's been a hard-working kid for us for four years," he said. "And, that's what I love about Alumni Night. We can bring back the players from the past, and when you can tie that into a present player, it's a neat thing to see."

Pendergraft said he felt he played well Friday, but the team will have to improve before nest week's home game against McDonald County.

"I feel I did a good job," he said. I just have to get smarter and hold on to the ball. We also have to get more physical and be in better shape."

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