Cassville learning to slam door shut

Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Cassville quarterback Shannon Haney breaks a 40-yard run during the Wildcats' win over Seneca on Friday. Shannon Haney Sr./Special to the Cassville Democrat

Halftime talk, intensity key in win over Seneca

In the Cassville football team's 59-26 win over Seneca Friday, there were a lot of big talking points for the coffee shop Saturday morning, but for the team, only one thing was important -- the Wildcats closed out the game.

The idea of tightening up after halftime was key for Coach Lance Parnell, who said his team saw the opportunity to finish the game and took it.

Cassville's River Phelps looks over his shoulder during a 74-yard touchdown run against Seneca on Friday, his sixth score on the night. Shannon Haney Sr./Special to the Cassville Democrat

"The kids saw that opportunity to finish the game, and they did it in convincing fashion," he said. They knew what time it was, and they did a great job."

Going into halftime up 21-14, the Wildcats burst out of the locker room to take a three-score lead, only to see it cut back to 9, then closed out the fourth quarter with two more scores to seal the win. Parnell and senior running back River Phelps both said the halftime talk had an effect on Cassville's play in the third and fourth quarters.

"We definitely had an intense halftime discussion," Parnell said. "We knew we had let them back in the game, and we came out in the second half and scored two in bang-bang plays. Then, we closed the door in the fourth quarter."

"The main thing was after

halftime, we wanted to get a turbo clock," Phelps said. "We wanted to put it out of reach, and it bothered us at halftime they still had a chance, and we didn't want them in the ballgame."

Phelps was on the verge of a record night for Cassville. His six touchdowns and 42 total points, counting point-after attempts, is believed to be the most points scored by any single player in a game. The capping score was a 74-yard strike in the fourth quarter. Phelps said even that late in the game, fatigue was not a factor.

"It kind of felt like that score put the game out of reach," he said. "I felt fine once I saw the open field and my legs kicked in under me. Any tiredness goes away when you see the open field, and getting to the end zone was the only thing on my mind."

Phelps said although he finished the game with six scores and 253 net rushing yards on 22 carries, the credit goes to the offensive line.

"I appreciate the line stepping up," he said. "They have been working their butts off and what they did on Friday made my job a whole lot easier."

In total, the Wildcats put up 440 net rushing yards, and Parnell said offensive linemen Austin Sanders, Devin Phelps, Hunter Bailey, Jesus Perez, Riley Fletcher and Mason Hendrix did a fantastic job.

"Those guys are the reason we can rush for 400-plus yards," Parnell said. "And, any of our backs will tell you they won't get one yard without those guys doing their jobs creating the holes and the lanes to run through.

"You can also see that after the ballgame and on practice Monday. Everyone was parring those linemen on the backsides and letting them know they were the reason for our success."

In total, six Wildcats ran the ball against Seneca, with quarterback Shannon Haney rushing for 84 yards, Kyle Ruark getting 96 and Anthony Tolbert getting 28.

"It's awesome [we have that many runners] because it makes sure other teams aren't just keying in on any one guy," Phelps said. "They can't always predict what we will do, and that opens up the field for us."

A couple of other records nearly fell in Friday's victory. The 59 points in a game was No. 6 overall in the record book for most points in a single game. Troy Rose also picked off three Seneca passes, just one short of the record four interceptions in a single game. Phelps' rushing total was only a few plays short of the record of 280, set by Joseph Gouvion in 2009.

The Wildcats look to continue winning ways on Friday, as they head to Aurora for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

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