Wildcats settle into Big 8 play

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Senior running back Chase Jackson drags a train of McDonald County defenders en route to the Wildcats' opening touchdown of the game, which came on its first play from scrimmage. Chuck Nickle Photography/Special to the Cassville Democrat

Cassville 1 of 3 teams still undefeated in conference play

In the pre-game huddle before the Wildcats' Friday game against McDonald County, senior quarterback Gabe Kirk told his teammates to take of their pads and watch from the stands if they did not believe they would win.

The message got through to the Wildcats, as they outplayed the Mustangs on both sides of the ball en route to a 35-0 win and a 2-0 conference record.

Cassville senior wide receiver Cade Pendergraft reels in the first of his two touchdown catches in Friday's 35-0 win over McDonald County. Chuck Nickle Photography/Special to the Cassville Democrat

Cassville feels the win has also got the team back on track after the week two loss to Mountain Grove.

"We really worked hard [after that]," Kirk said. "The coaches have been on us because we need more leadership from the seniors. [Against Mountain Grove], we played soft and not up to our potential, so this week, we went out and played with heart and executed."

The seniors showed up Friday, with Kirk going 6 for 9 and 131 yards through the air for 2 touchdowns. He added 132 yards and two scores on the ground. Senior wide receiver Cade Pendergraft reeled in 2 passes for 108 yards and a pair of scores, and senior Chase Jackson went 70 yards on 11 carries with a score.

Parnell said between weeks two and three, he saw a change in the Wildcats' attitude.

"We played with a lot more emotion," he said. "We also executed a lot better."

One of only three Big 8 Conference teams left undefeated in conference play, the Wildcats are confident, but recognize there is a lot of season left to play.

"It's still very early in the conference schedule," Parnell said. "We still have six conference games left, and it's good to be 2-0, but

there are still some very good teams on the schedule."

Kirk said he also knows there's a long road ahead in the Big 8.

"Conference-wise, we've got some tough teams to play against," he said. "We've got some powerhouses. Monett is looking pretty good, and we're going to have to come out and try hard, be physical and never underestimate any opponent."

One of those powerhouses in the Big 8 -- three-time defending class 2 state champion Lamar -- will make its way to Wildcats Stadium on Friday. Fresh off a 24-6 win over Monett on Saturday in a game postponed by Friday rains, Kirk said Lamar is a strong team.

Senior quarterback Gabe Kirk flips over a group of players en route to a 2-yard touchdown run and a 35-0 win over McDonald County at home Friday. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

"Lamar looks pretty big and physical up front," he said. "They lost a bunch of seniors, but they're in a winning mode. They've been a powerhouse for years now and we'll have to prepare well and come out and do out best."

Parnell said to find success in upcoming conference games, the Wildcats will have to be disciplined, especially against Lamar.

"We have to stay disciplined defensively with what they do on offense," he said.

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