Cassville ready to come home

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Alex Dyer absorbs a hit from a Carl Junction defender as he leaps for a catch during varsity action on Friday. Chuck Nickle Special to the Cassville Democrat

Young Wildcats still climbing, even as injuries mount

Cassville football coach Lance Parnell only knows one way to take on adversity -- head on.

The Wildcats have been outscored 136-7 in the past three games, each of them losses.

Injuries have been a huge factor for the Wildcats this season. Cassville has been forced to go young in several areas on the field. Pictured above are just a few of the starters who have turned into sideline coaches. From left, are: Cody Olsen, Chase Jackson, Justin Dunivant and Cade Pendergraft. Chuck Nickle Special to the Cassville Democrat

This week is Homecoming for the Wildcats, and when asked if the events surrounding the event posed a problem keeping his team grounded, Parnell was quick with the response.

"No," he said. "Our last three opponents have kept us grounded."

Even though he won't use it as an excuse for his team's performance, multiple injuries to key players has been a huge problem.

Since being at full strength in Week 1, Cassville has watched as 10 starters have been benched due to injuries. Even the most hardcore Wildcat fans have had to consult their programs to find the names of players running into games to plug the holes.

Just don't ask Parnell about the injuries. He refuses to discuss their impact on his team and continually answers any question about them with a standard "we are working hard to get ready for this week's game."

Furthermore, he points out that he has 80 other players who can step up.

One comfort for Parnell is the fact that his team returns to the friendly confines of Wildcat Stadium this week to face a 1-5 Mt. Vernon team that just earned its first win of the season last week against East Newton.

"They are a team that is playing with a lot of confidence right now," Parnell said. "They have a good tailback (Payton Oehlschlager) and a young quarterback that can throw the ball. We'll have our hands full"

Cassville averages 223 yards per game (160 rushing and 63 passing) and will need more than that to win on Friday.

With several new players on the field, Parnell has had a chance to assess their performance.

"I've seen positive growth in River Phelps at running back, Gilbert Madina and Zane Everett at linebacker," Parnell said. "We just have to keep working."

Keys for Cassville

* Make Mt. Vernon throw the ball. Look for the Wildcats to load the box to force the Mountaineers to try to beat them in the air.

* 200 is the key. The Wildcats are undefeated this season when they rush for 200 yards. It seems like a lot, but is doable on Friday.

* Get rhythm. Cassville is best when the option is clicking for 4-5 yard gains. If they find this formula early. It should be a happy Homecoming.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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