Cassville prepares to defend home turf against rival Cubs

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Monett ready for Wildcats' test

Monett football Coach Derrek Uhl was very cautious not to give any bulletin board material during his weekly interview about the up coming game witht heir chief rival.

Uhl was honest in his assessment of Cassville.

"Their quarterback [Leigh Cox] scares me," he said. "He runs the option well and makes smart reads. The [River] Phelps kid at running back is scary when in space. He could go to the end zone every time if he isn't stopped."

Uhl knows what is at stake on Friday when the Cubs travel to their bitter rival's house for the annual Barry County Brawl.

First, the Cubs are still in contention for a conference title and a loss would end that dream. Secondly, Monett is chasing Reeds Spring in the district points standings, with Aurora nipping on the Cubs' heels. A stumble against the Wildcats would dampen the likelihood of a top-two seed.

Uhl spent last season in the Cassville school system, while he coached the Wildcats middle school program, he was still in the press box spotting for the high school team on Friday nights.

When Monett plucked him away from Cassville in February, he managed to take long-time defensive assistant coach Kyle Wood with him.

"I learned how to relax during a game from Uhl," said Lance Parnell, Cassville coach. "You never knew what he was going to say over the headset. He'd crack a joke during a timeout and it helped you remember that it was just a game. With Kyle, Derrek got a dang good coach who is a tireless worker. Kyle was a guy that I could count on every day to get our players ready."

Uhl said he learned what he always knew, that Parnell was a great defensive mind.

"Lance and I have been friends for years," Uhl said. "When it come to teaching and coaching defense, he is one of the best I have ever been around. He will have something cooked up for us."

Cassville comes into the game averaging 222 yards on the ground and 27 yard through the air per contest.

Monett has been more balanced with 185 on the ground and 142 in the air per game.

Uhl is still looking for the right mix. He said ideally, he wants his team to rush for 200 on the ground and 125 in the air per contest.

"Cassville is big and fast on defense," Uhl said. "Our line is going to have to hold up to the pressure."

One area that Uhl and the Cubs have been impressed with, is the growth of the defensive line with juniors Alex Turner, Gabe Pryor, Angel Villalta and sophomore Coy Butterworth.

"They have allowed us to run some four-man fronts," Uhl said. "Coy and Angel have really come into their own. Gabe and Alex have stepped up their game as well."

The Cubs defense has only allowed 42 points all season (10.5 per game). Subtract the 29 points that Lamar scored and the points per game allowed falls to 4.6.

The Wildcats come into the game averaging 18.75, take away the 42 points they scored on McDonald County and that number falls to 11 points per contest.

Monett has outscored Cassville 95-56 in the last five meetings (24-11).

The Cubs come into the game 34.25 points per contest

and still have not hit their offensive stride according to Uhl.

A win on Friday for Monett would set up a monumental showdown next week in Aurora, but Uhl does not want to even entertain the thought of next week.

"You don't have to say or do anything extra to pump the kids up for this game," Uhl said. "They know what's up. They know it's Cassville."

Keys for Monett

* Play with emotion. The atmosphere will be electric on Friday. The Cubs need to channel their energy into playing as close to perfect as they can on the field and ignore the distractions.

* Make Cassville air it out. The Wildcats comfort zone is running the ball. Monett wants them to feel the pressure and put the ball in the air.

* Big men on campus. The front four on defense for both teams are solid. The group that takes care of business on Friday, is the group that will lead their team to victory.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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