Wildcats relish revenge win
Cassville football team's work in past 3 weeks pays off
In Week 7 of the regular season, the Cassville football team lost a heartbreaker of a game in Mt. Vernon, ending its chances of getting a home district playoff game.
On Friday, the Wildcats used its improved pass defense and a methodical on-the-ground offense to exact revenge against the Mountaineers, going back to Mt. Vernon and getting a 35-14 win to end the Green and White's season.
"It feels great to get this win," said Leigh Cox, senior quarterback, who has played more fullback as of Week 7. "We knew if we worked hard, we could come back and stick it to them the second time.
"The secondary was a lot more prepared. Last time, they went on an air raid on us. This time, we stopped it."
If the postgame huddle after the Week 7 loss, Coach Lance Parnell told his Wildcats they would likely return to Mt. Vernon in Week 10, and he was proud his team was ready to go on Friday.
"It's great to get some revenge," Parnell said. "We talked for three weeks about not feeling like we're playing our best football, and [Friday night], we played well in all three phases of the game.
"We've continued to get better. We went through a rough stretch in the middle of the season, but we haven't wavered and worked to get better and better"
The biggest difference between Week 7 and Week 10 for Cassville was its pass defense.
The Mountaineers in Week 7 were 10-of-18 passing for 248 yards and 2 scores. On Friday, Mt. Vernon mustered 153 yards, completing 16 of 32 attempts with no touchdowns.
The Wildcats also grabbed three interceptions, with Zane Everett getting two and River Phelps leaping for one at the 2-yard line to seal up the win for Cassville.
"We've put in a lot of work," Parnell said. "Defense came up big for us this week. Leigh Cox, Garrett Knight, Troy Rose, River Phelps, Devin Messbarger, Zane Everett and all the linebackers were much better with their zone drops and eliminating the big plays. We've worked on those all year, and I can see where we've improved."
Offensively, the Wildcats kept it on the ground, getting 404 yards rushing on 58 attempts -- an average of nearly 7 yards per carry. Phelps led the charge with 215 yards on 17 attempts with 2 touchdowns, and Cox put up 151 yards on 25 attempts with 3 touchdowns.
Freshman quarterback Shannon Haney went for 55 yards on 6 attempts. Cox and Everett led defensively with 7 tackles each
Cox said the playoff win can be credited to the team's attitude in recent weeks.
"We've really picked it up," he said. "We've been coming in early to watch film and just played with a higher level of intensity. That's what you have to do play another day, and I love my team."
The Wildcats now head to Reeds Spring, the No. 1 seed in the Big 8, on Friday at 7 p.m.