Wildcats tangle with Mustangs
Cassville seeking 3rd consecutive win on the season
A little extra film study is required this week by the Cassville football team (2-1, 1-1) as they welcome McDonald County (2-1, 0-1) to town on Friday.
Cassville is 18-6 all-time against the Mustangs in a series that dates back to 1976. The Wildcats have won the last six games in the series, including an exciting 33-22 win last year.
The Mustangs opened the season with wins over Salem and Marshfield, and for the first time in 47 years were 2-0 before falling to Seneca last week. Still, according to Lance Parnell, Cassville football coach, this year’s Mustang squad is the real deal.
Under Parnell, Cassville is 4-0 against the Mustangs with wins of 45-0, 35-0, 42-14 and 33-22.
“They are much improved all over the place,” Parnell said. “Defensively, they are more fundamentally sound and physical than I’ve ever seen. Offensively, they have some weapons that you have to account for on every play. Even their special teams play is vastly improved.”
McDonald County is under the direction of first-year head coach Kellen Hoover. Hoover spent the last five seasons as an assistant coach at Monett and has brought some of the Cubs style with him to Anderson.
The Mustangs’ big three on offense center around Payton Barton, quarterback; running back Isrrael DeSantiago and receiver Cole DeloSantos
“DeSantiago is as tough of a runner as there is in our conference,” Parnell said. “He has a low center of gravity and is not afraid to go between the tackles.”
Barton and DeloSantos have proved to be formidable threats in the air as well.
“DeloSantos is a playmaker,” Parnell said. “He attacks the ball in the air.”
The Wildcats have been bit by the injury bug a bit this season, and Parnell said several new faces saw the field against East Newton including sophomore Deven Bates at quarterback, who started and finished the game at East Newton.
“We do not have a quarterback controversy at Cassville,” Parnell said. “Shannon [Haney] is our starter, he got dinged against Reeds Spring and was not ready to go at the start of the East Newton game. Deven stepped in and did a great job for us.”
Parnell also praised the play of Jaime Aguinaga, who got the start at defensive tackle, and junior Michael Hunter at defensive back.
“Both of those guys stepped up when we needed them to and played well,” Parnell said.
This week, the Wildcats are going to spend some extra time on developing mental focus, specifically when it relates to turnovers.
“We had a fumble and an interception at East Newton,” Parnell said. “Turnovers are caused when players lose that focus. We have got to clean that up if we want to continue winning.”
Keys for Cassville
• Protect the ball
If fans want to watch a coach quickly age, observe their reaction after a turnover. If Cassville wants to be taken seriously in the Big 8 and win on Friday, they must hang on to the ball.
• Balance on offense
Heading into the East Newton game, the Wildcats had totaled just 85 yards passing compared to 559 rushing yards. The Wildcats do not need to throw the ball 25 times a game, but they also have to be careful not to become too predictable.
• Get off the field
With the ability to both run and pass, Cassville must get McDonald County off the field on third down. If the Mustangs sustain drives, it will be a long night for Wildcat Nation.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.