'Cats see need for improvement

Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Cassville senior River Phelps collects some tough yards during the Wildcats' game at Monett on Friday. Jacob Brower/jbrower@cassville-democrat.com

Team to continue betting on black

When Wesley Snipes stared in the movie "Passenger 57," one of the iconic lines from the film was, "Always bet on black."

On Friday, the Wildcats (4-2, 2-2) rolled into Monett and for three quarters frustrated the No. 4 ranked Cubs (5-1, 3-1).

Kyle Ruark explodes into the end zone for a touchdown during varsity action on Friday. Jacob Brower/jbrower@cassville-democrat.com

With three minutes remaining and facing a fourth-and-12 at the Cubs' 45, Coach Lance Parnell elected to punt the ball back to Monett.

"Coach [Clay] Weldy had a play call, but I thought we could punt and pin them deep, especially with having three timeouts," Parnell said. "I can second guess that call, but I felt the way we were playing defense, we could get a stop, and we really aren't an offense that is built to get fourth-and-long yardage."

While the gamble ultimately failed, with the Cubs gaining three clock-killing first downs, Parnell's faith in his team and the Wildcats' belief in their coach remain unwavering.

"I think we could have dug deeper on defense," said Kyle Ruark, Cassville running back and linebacker. "We love to hit. I thought we were going to get the ball back after the punt, and I wanted to got out and help my team."

Ruark had an explosive night for the Wildcats.

On Cassville's first offensive play, the senior rumbled 87 yards for the score. Later in the first quarter, he plowed into the end zone from three-yards out.

By the game's conclusion Ruark had rushed 17 times for a career-high 191 yards.

"I'm super proud of Kyle," Parnell said. "You have got to remember that as a sophomore, he broke his foot on this field and then re-injured himself his junior year. He was ready to go tonight."

Parnell said he was proud of his whole team and their effort against the Cubs.

"They gave me all they had against Monett," Parnell said. "I told them their effort was good enough to win."

One area that Cassville is seeking improvement is on third and fourth downs.

On three occasions, the Wildcats had the Cubs in fourth down situations facing distances of 9, 5 and 3 yards only to see Monett convert each time and score touchdowns on two of those plays.

"That's on me," Parnell said. "If we don't get off the field on third and fourth downs, that's my fault. That's not having a good game plan and having players prepared to face those situations. It hurt us tonight."

Ruark disagreed slightly with his coach.

"It's still up to us to make plays," he said. "I felt I could have given a little more. We'll learn from this."

The Wildcats return home Friday to face Seneca. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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