Wildcats going strong since 1946
Only 4 remain from 1946 Cassville football team
Friday nights in the fall are sacred events in Cassville.
For Wildcat fans, it's not a question of if you are going to the game, but what time you getting there and what are you grilling at the tailgate party?
The origins of Wildcat football date back to 1921, and scores from that era that seem unbelievable. Most notable was Cassville's victory over Verona, 137-0. Blowouts were common in the 1920s ,and a quick survey of the record book saw Carthage defeat Webb City, 117-0; Carthage best Galena, 104-0; Monett take down Greenfield, 100-0 and Monett rout Republic, 94-0.
For the next 20 years, the Wildcats played consecutively until the men of the United States were called to defend freedom and entered World War II. Cassville's men answered the call.
Enough men volunteered from Cassville that the Wildcats were forced to suspend football for the 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945 seasons.
"Back then, football was the big sports in the area," said Bob Mitchell, 1946 Cassville alumnus. "Several of us used to go to Monett on Thanksgiving Day to watch the Cubs play Aurora."
Mitchell said more than a few Cassville's residents could be seen at the game.
"It was the [chief] entertainment in the area," Mitchell said. "We'd go to the game and see several people from town. Football meant a lot to the community."
As the war drew to an end, the area veterans began returning home.
Mitchell said those who were under the age of 20 could return and finish high school. With the influx of students and renewed interest in football, Cassville renewed its football program in 1946.
Mitchell was a senior on that team. Cassville hired Bayred O. Vermillon to lead to the Wildcats.
"Coach Vermillon was in the Air Force," Mitchell said. "He would coach practices and the games in his uniform. We ran an offense he call 'short punt' it was more like the veer offense. We had simple blocking assignments and basic play calls. Nothing like you would see today."
Vermillon coached for two seasons, Cassville went 3-3-1 in 1946 and 1-6-2 in 1947.
"We were a poor school back then," Mitchell said. "We played our games in our practice jerseys. Coach would cut practice short on Thursdays so our moms could have our clothes ready for the games on Fridays."
In 1948, the Wildcats were coached by Dean George who led the black and gold to a 9-1 season and a 14-6 win over El Dorado Springs in the marble Bowl in Carthage.
As the years have gone by and Cassville has become one of the most recognizable programs in southwest Missouri, the number of players from those early teams have slowly started to dwindle.
According to Mitchell, only he, Calvin Holman, Hank Mathis and Floyd Tucker remain from the 1946 team.
However, every Friday night, their legacy is carried on when the Wildcats take the field.
"It makes me proud to see those boys play," Mitchell said. "Every week, I think back to when I got the privilege."