Road warrior 'Cats off to face Reeds Spring

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
River Phelps cuts up a hole in the middle during Friday's 35-14 win over Mt. Vernon. Kyle Troutman

Cassville to face district No. 1 seed

Nothing has come easy for the Cassville football team this season.

Injuries, a road-heavy schedule and inexperience have taken turns trying to beat down the proud Wildcats.

Through all the adversity, through all of the pitfalls and through all of the snares that could have permanently derailed Lance Parnell's football team this season, the Wildcats have persevered.

Parnell has maneuvered, managed and coached up his team to the point where the Wildcats sit just one game away from the Class 3, District 4 

"I really like the way this team has come together," Parnell said. "They fight. Every night, they give me everything they have on the field. As a coach, I cannot ask for any more than that."

For the seventh time this season, Cassville and its loyal legion of fans are on the road.

This week, Cassville faces its toughest test of the postseason in No. 1-seed Reeds Spring.

"They play fast and physical," Parnell said. "They have four backs that can carry the ball and they can throw over the top if you load the box."

The Wolves have tasted defeat just once this season, in Week 9 against Bolivar. Some fans have pointed to a weak Central Ozark Conference small division as a sign the Wolves' win total is inflated.

Reeds Spring opponents have a combined winning percentage of 41.9 percent (34-47). Only Bolivar and Central High School had records above .500.

By comparison, Cassville's opponents had a winning percentage of just 44 percent (36-45) with Lamar, Carl Junction, Monett and Aurora boasting win totals over .500.

Still, Parnell is not letting his squad take this game for granted.

"Reeds Spring did what they had to do in those games, and they won," he said. "You don't get to the semifinals with out playing some good football. We will have our hands full."

Parnell said no matter what Reeds Spring is doing, his team is playing its best ball of the season.

The Wildcats are as healthy as they could expect to be at this time of the season, and all of their pistons are beginning to fire.

The Wildcats rolled up 404 total yards rushing against Mt. Vernon, with River Phelps galloping for 206 and Leigh Cox chewing up another 150 on the ground.

"We are playing well," Parnell said. "We got some of our key pieces back, and now, the players are 
starting to gel."

Parnell said there is no secret to winning the game, and he expects it to be low-scoring and hard-hitting.

Keys for the Wildcats

* Stay grounded. Cassville's first order of business should be to establish the run. If the Wildcats get the veer working, watch out.

* Jam the line. Despite the Wolves' ability to throw, look for Cassville to load the box against Reeds Spring. Three things can happen when a team throws the ball, and two of them are bad.

* Lead from the front. Reeds Spring struggled to play catch up with Bolivar once it lost the lead. If Cassville takes and early lead, it will force the Wolves to abandon their game plan.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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