Cassville, Monett renew Barry County rivalry this week
It's time to brawl
Wildcats seeking springboard win
Cassville still controls its conference, district destiny in Week 5
Friday night's game with Monett is bigger than any one on the Cassville coaching staff is willing to admit.
While Head Coach Lance Parnell concedes that it is important, he notes that every game is important.
"It's Big 8 football and our opponent happens to be Monett this week," Parnell said. "It's going to be physical, and we will have our hands full."
Cassville comes into the contest 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big 8. The Wildcats sit in third place in the district standings, a mere 2.67 points behind the Cubs for second.
A loss to Monett would more than likely end any chance of a top three finish in the conference standings, and would all but ensure a third place or worse finish in the district rankings.
If Cassville wins, the painful memory of two defeats this season would be mitigated, and the Wildcats would control their own destiny.
It was a year ago when the 1-4 Wildcats' team walloped the Cubs, 27-0. Cassville flexed their muscles during that win and hoisted the Barry County Brawl Trophy high into the cool fall air.
That win was a catalyst for a five-game winning streak and a near upset of Seneca in the district playoffs for the Wildcats, and they are hoping to capture that magic again.
"No doubt, we came together during that game and gained a tremendous amount of confidence," Parnell said. "I see some similarities between this year and last year. I hope it comes together again."
Monett entered last season's game 5-0, state ranked, but largely untested.
This year, Monett is 3-1, ranked No. 10 in the state and has faced just one tough opponent (Lamar) and lost 24-6. The Cubs' other three wins were against teams with a combined 2-10 record and their starters have only seen action in the fourth quarter once this season.
Cassville needs something positive to right the ship after last week's 49-0 setback to Lamar.
"I saw some things we did well against Lamar after I watched the tape again," Parnell said. "They are a good football team and if you make one little mistake, they will pounce. We just made too many mistakes."
There is one area of concern for Wildcat fans: injuries.
The injury bug has bitten the Wildcats recently, especially in their backfield and on the offensive and defensive lines.
"We aren't going to use our injuries as a crutch or an excuse," Parnell said. "We have 80 kids on this team and it's the coaches job to get them ready to play. Our players must have a 'next man up' philosophy."
Statistically, Monett and Cassville are about even. The Wildcats have 740 total yards rushing compared to the Cubs 766. The black and gold have thrown for 231 compared to the purple and gold's 336.
Cassville will find a way to negate Monett's speed in the open field. The Cubs will need to force Cassville to become a throwing offense.
"We still have to establish the
run," Parnell said. "It's who we are and it's what we do."
Keys for Cassville
* Control the clock: Cassville must pick up first downs and move the chains. The Wildcats' best defense is keeping Monett's offense on the sidelines.
* Force turnovers: If the Wildcat defense can force turnovers and give the offense a short field to work with, some of the injury problem would then be marginalized.
* Next man up: Several sophomores have been thrust into varsity action due to necessity. They will have to be ready on Friday is Cassville is to hand Monett its first loss on its new artificial turf.
Cubs expect 'best shot' from Cassville
Last year's rout still resonates with coaches, players and fans
State ranked, undefeated and full of confidence was how Monett entered Wildcat Stadium last year.
Monett was 5-0 and facing a 1-4 Cassville squad that was reeling and looking for any type of positive cohesion. While most thought the purple and gold would earn a win, Cassville demonstrated otherwise with 48 minutes of black and gold fury, leaving the Cubs battered, bruised, embarrassed and with a 27-0 loss.
The game was not even that close. Cassville held Monett to -14 yards rushing, and the fog that loss created did not lift the remainder of the season, as the purple and gold failed to win again and limped to a 5-5 record.
Part of the Cubs' problem was a lack of being challenged by a physical team in its first five games. They were unprepared for the physicality unleashed by the Wildcat defense.
They won't make that mistake again.
"I think about that game a lot," said John Saunders, Monett linebacker. "That loss hurt, and I use it as motivation this season."
This, year Monett welcomes Cassville to Burl Fowler Stadium with conditions eerily similar to last season. The Cubs are 3-1 and are receiving votes in the state rankings. Cassville sits at 2-2 and is coming off a 49-0 waxing from Class 2 power Lamar.
Lamar Coach Scott Bailey thinks the Barry County Brawl could be a classic.
"You have two styles that both gave us some issues," Bailey said. "I can make a case for either team."
Bailey said Monett's speed is a weapon that was hard for his team to deal with.
"We're used to running three or four plays and then busting a big run," Bailey said. "Their defense pursued the ball well. They made us work to gain yards. Offensively, they had the fastest skill position players we've faced this season."
Despite being hit hard by the injury bug, Cassville was still a challenge for Lamar.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Lance [Parnell] and his Cassville players," Bailey said. "They always play hard. Their linemen chewed up our blockers at the point of attack. We benefited from their turnovers."
This season, the Cubs haven't put up sterling offensive numbers. Quincy Jackson leads the squad with 170 yards rushing with two touchdowns. Zack Hammond is 10-for-18 through the air for 336 yards. Levi Pfitzner is the squads leading receiver. He has caught four passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns.
"When Monett gets their kids in space, they can hurt you," Bailey said. "We saw that first hand. If you give them an inch, they'll take a mile."
While their offensive numbers aren't anything to brag about, the Cubs defense has been spectacular. The offense has benefited from 15 turnovers (five interceptions, eight fumble recoveries and two recovered two muffed kickoff catches)
this season. Against Mt. Vernon the Cubs began seven of their nine drives in Mountaineer territory.
The Cubs have 31 tackles for loss and nine sacks on the season.
"We know who we are facing on Friday," said Chad Depee, Monett coach. "Cassville has speed. Gabe Kirk is a heck of an athlete on both sides of the ball.
"Coach Parnell does a tremendous job of getting his kids ready to play."
Keys for Monett
* Find space: Look for Monett to runs plays to set up one-on-one situations for their speedy skill players
* Force the Wildcats to the air: Monett wants to take the ground game away from Cassville so they can pin their ears backs and go after the quarterback.
* Run the ball: Monett wants to shorten the game and destroy the will of the Wildcats with punishing ground game.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.