'Cats seek strong finish

Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Kyle Ruark stiff arms a would-be tackler during Cassville's win over the Houn' Dawgs on Friday. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Team prepares for another air assault in Mt. Vernon

Temperatures are falling, but the gridiron action remains hot for the Cassville football team as the Wildcats welcome Mt. Vernon to town on Friday.

The Wildcats (6-2, 4-2) and the Mountaineers (5-3, 4-2) both have a lot on the line as the regular season comes to a conclusion.

A host of Wildcats take down Aurora's quarterback during Cassville's win over the Houn' Dawgs on Friday. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Primarily, the winner of the game will get a higher district seed and presumably and easier opponent in the first round of the playoffs.

Cassville Coach Lance Parnell said he is solely focused on the game at hand and believes that his squad will have its hands full on Friday.

"Mt. Vernon has a great quarterback and three receivers that can catch the ball," Parnell said. "We can't be caught looking at who we might or might not face in the first round of the playoffs. Our focus is on going 1-0 this week."

The Wildcats' ground attack has been on fire the last two weeks. Cassville has rushed for 818 yards in those games, and River Phelps has ripped off 484 of those yards and scored 11 rushing touchdowns.

"Our offensive line has been outstanding as the season has gone along," Parnell said. "We are a running team, and they are making it easy."

As a team, the Wildcats are averaging 276 yards on the ground per game.

"When we can run the ball with that much success, good things will happen," Parnell said. "All the credit goes to those guys up front."

The Wildcats know the key to Friday starts and ends up front with Austin Sanders, Devin Phelps, Hunter Bailey, Jesus Perez, Riley Fletcher and Mason Hendrix blocking.

On defense, Cassville will be bringing the heat.

"We don't want to let [Mountaineer quarterback] Garrett Hadlock get comfortable in the pocket," Parnell said. "We want to make him throw on the run."

With a win, the Wildcats assure themselves a No. 3 seed. A win with a Monett loss would move the Wildcats to the No. 1 district seed. A loss however, would make the Wildcats fall to the No. 4 seed.

Keys for Cassville

* Run, run, run, and then change to the run

Mt. Vernon has struggled to stop the run all season. Look for Cassville to give plenty of carries to the running backs.

* Black curtain

Parnell is an old fashioned defensive coordinator. He is not intrigued with exotic blitzes. Look for the Wildcats to simply dial up the pressure and try to introduce Hadlock to the grass on the field.

* Win the field position battle

For the most part, the Wildcats have won the field position battle all season. If that trend continues on Friday, there will be much rejoicing by Wildcat Nation.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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