Cubs aiming to keep Brawl trophy
Monett sees Cassville as huge test Friday
The lights will be bright on Friday as the Cubs of Monett (4-1, 3-1) welcome the Wildcats of Cassville (4-1, 3-1) to Burl Fowler Stadium for the fourth edition of the Barry County Brawl.
After dropping the first game when the series was officially titled, the Cubs have won the last two games and like the way the coveted Brawl trophy looks in its display case at the high school.
After a 28-7 victory over Aurora on Friday, the players immediately turned their attention to the Wildcats.
"We [coaches] don't need to remind them who they are playing," said Derrek Uhl, Monett coach. "They know its Cassville and they know that it is always a big game."
Unlike the previous three meetings, this year's competition has more than hardware on the line.
First, both teams are jockeying for top-two district playoff seeds.
Currently, the Wildcats hold the No. 2 seed by a mere .27 points. A win by Monett would give them a stranglehold on the No. 2 seed and Cassville, at best, would be forced to settle for the No. 3 seed.
If the Wildcats prevail, Cassville would be in line for the No. 1 seed by nature of the automatic flip generated by the head-to-head win over Reeds Spring. The Cubs would then be forced to the No. 3 seed.
Secondly, both teams still have conference title hopes alive if they win. Granted, both losses each team has suffered came at the hands of Lamar, a two-loss conference squad is totally out of the running. If East Newton can blank Seneca, it is not out of the question to believe that someone could trip up a sleeping Tigers squad.
Thirdly, there are the obvious bragging rights that come with winning the game.
The strength of the Cubs this year is their defense, which is surrendering just 244 yards offense per game, 87 yards rushing and 157 yards passing.
"I felt our defense against Aurora won us the game," said Derrek Uhl, Monett coach. "A turnover put us in a bad spot and we gave up a score, but other than that one drive, they played lights out."
The Cubs have racked up 20.5 sacks on the season and have knocked opposing backs down for an additional 37.5 tackles for loss this season.
With a Cassville offense coming to town and a potent running back in River Phelps, the defense will be called on once again to stem the incoming tide.
"Phelps is a big play type of runner," Uhl said. "If he finds a seam, he has the speed to finish runs. You watch film on their offense and you see Cassville gaining confidence with nearly every series. You can't let them feel like they are having success."
This season, Monett running back Michael Branch has received the attention of the media for his outstanding play, yet when his numbers are compared to Phelps, the domination is not as evident.
While Branch has scored 10 rusing touchdowns, one more Phelps' 9, the Wildcats' ball carrier has rushed for more yards (690 to 680) and in fewer carries (78 to 85).
Phelps has proven durable this season for Coach Lance Parnell.
"River runs hard and is shifty," Parnell said. "He has the speed to get to the edge and the toughness to gain yards in the middle of the line."
Uhl said the Wildcats offense is centered around the growth at the quarterback position
"[Shannon] Haney does a good job running the option for Cassville and the backs hit the hole hard," Uhl said. "The scary thing about them is that at times there will be seven sophomores on the field. The Wildcats are young and talented."
Uhl also said with the teams being such rivals, that there are no secrets.
"We know what each other wants to do with the ball," Uhl said. "It boils down to the team that can execute its game plan the best. That will be the winner."
Keys for Monett
* Keep them guessing
Monett has several offensive weapons that it can deploy. Look for the Cubs to get everyone involved. The more the Wildcats defense has to account for on the field, the better the play results should be from the Cubs.
* Home Sweet Home
The Cubs play well at Burl Fowler Stadium, thanks in large part to the support of the home crowd. They will need that support on Friday to help push them toward a win over their rival.
* Force the Wildcats to the air
Haney has only thrown for 220 yards this season. Look for the Cubs to stack the box and take away the ground game. Monett will want to make the sophomore beat them in the air.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
12 - Ian Meyer, QB
30 - Michael Branch, RB
2 - Brody Crawford, WR
13 - Brian Parra-Navarro, WR
20 - Mason Swearingen, WR
44 - Alex Turner, TE
55 - Adam Long, OL
56 - Coy Butterworth, OL
68 - Jeremiah Anderson, OL
71 - Aiden Brown, OL
75 - Kurran Bartkoski
56 - Coy Butterworth, DL
67 - Angel Villalta, DL
44 - Alex Turner, DL
30 - Michael Branch, LB
41 - Darian McCracken, LB
89 - Brennon Krueger, LB
42 - Onis Howard, DB
2 - Brody Crawford, DB
16 - Jedd Anderson, DB 20 - Mason Swearingen, DB
13 - Brian Parra-Navarro, DB
|36.6||Net Punt Avg.||33.9|
Monett: Michael Branch, 85-680, 10 TD; Onis Howard, 28-183, 3 TD
Cassville: River Phelps, 78-690, 9 TD; Kyle Ruark, 41-192, 1 TD
Monett: Ian Meyer, 47-83-754, 6 TD
Cassville: Shannon Haney, 15-35-220, 3 TD
Monett: Brian Parra-Navarro, 9-233, 3 TD; Michael Branch, 10-202, 3 TD
Cassville: River Phelps, 8-144, 1 TD; Troy Rose, 3-54, 1 TD
Onis Howard: 41 tackles, 28 unassisted tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss
Coy Butterworth: 22 tackles, 15 unassisted tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks
Steven Hunter: 45 tackles, 35 unassisted tackles, 3 sacks
Garrett Knight: 30 tackles, 23 unassisted tackles