'Cats ready to Brawl with Cubs

Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Cassville's Devin Phelps tries to disrupt the McDonald County quarterback from making a pass during the Wildcats' road win in Week 3. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

3rd installment of Barry County Brawl set for Friday

Cassville football coach Lance Parnell is not known for eloquent speeches and over the top flattery.

He is a man that gets to the point and is matter-of-fact in his approach.

When he watched this week's opponent Monett on video, it did not take him long to access the situation.

"They're a dang good football team," Parnell said. "Their defense is quick and their front four is the most physical unit I've seen from them in almost a decade."

On Friday, the Wildcats host the Cubs in the third installment of the Barry County Brawl. The two teams have played each other for years but over the last six, the rivalry has reached new heights.

"We were always rivals," Parnell said. "But when Cassville beat the Cubs in the playoffs in 2009, the intensity ratcheted up quite a bit."

The 2009 playoff game is one the Wildcat Nation will never forget. Cassville rolled into Burl Fowler Stadium and knocked off the No. 1 ranked Cubs 28-14 in a muddy soggy mess.

It was that game, that some have speculated spurred Monett to install artificial turf to prevent another upset reoccurrence.

Two years ago, the schools created a traveling trophy and branded the game to give it even more meaning.

The game has proven to be pivotal for both squads. Each has won the trophy once and each year, the winning team went on to a solid performance in the playoffs.

The Wildcats this season have yet to find their offensive stride scoring just 18.75 points per game. That number drops to 11 points per game if you take away the 42-point performance against McDonald County in Week Three.

Cassville has shown a propensity to get stronger as the game has worn on, 28 of their 75 total points this year has come in the fourth quarter.

Offensively, they have become run heavy averaging 222 yard on the ground and just 27.5 per game in the air.

"Our goal every week is to win up front and run the ball," Parnell said. "That being said, we still have to throw the ball a little in order to keep teams from loading the box.

"Turnovers have just killed us. We gave Lamar 21 points off a punt return, interception and a fumble at our 12-yard line. You can't do that and then wonder why you didn't win."

Defensively, the Wildcats have allowed teams 189.3 yards rushing per game and 86.5 passing.

Monett comes into this game with a balanced attack averaging 185 yards on the ground and 142 in the air per contests.

"Their running back Michael Branch is a bruiser," Parnell said. "He runs to and then through contact. He could be the best back in the conference if he wanted to be. Jonah Paszek is a speedy receiver that can beat you deep. With that type of balance it makes them hard to scheme."

According to Parnell, the Wildcats will have to play near perfect in order to contain the Cubs.

"On offense, our line will have to create running lanes," he said. "Defensively, we have to make the tackle on first contact."

Keys for Cassville

* Score first. Wildcat Nation should provide a nice home field advantage. Especially in the men in black put points up first.

* Keep the clock rolling. Cassville, in their two wins has won the time of possession battle. First downs are nearly as good as points on the board for the Wildcats.

* Throw the ball. Cassville will need to show Monett that it can get yards in the air. The Wildcats do not need to chuck the ball 20 times, but enough to keep the Cubs honest.

If the Wildcats do win, Parnell is not worried about the trophy.

"We found a nice place to display it two years ago," he said. "I'm sure Mr. [Doug] Martin, [Cassville athletic director] can find a prominent spot for it this year."

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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