D-up: Wildcats stand tall in win

Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Cassville’s Zack Burton pressures the St. James quarterback during a Wildcats win earlier this season. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Line pushing in playoffs

While Cassville put up 47 points in its district playoff win over Hollister Friday, it was the number on the other side of the dash in the scoreline that stood out — 0.

For the second time this season, the Wildcat defense pitched a shutout, and coach Lance Parnell said it was an all-hands-on-deck effort.

Anthony Tolbert breaks through a hole during Friday’s win over Hollister at home. Shannon Haney/Special to the Cassville Democrat

“We played very well up front,” he said. “Our D-line controlled the line of scrimmage and pressed them. Hollister likes to throw the ball, and we keyed in on that and took it away.”

Junior Zack Burton said the way Hollister’s offense was set up made it quick work for him and his partners.

“Hollister was focused on going to the right,” he said. “We got good pressure and that setup allowed our weak side defensive end to hit them on their weak side.”

And hit the Tigers Cassville did.

The Wildcats forced a net -36 rushing yards on 19 attempts, with 78 yards lost on the ground, and 113 passing yards on 26 attempts. The defense also got 2 sacks, one from Logan Carlin and another from Austin Sanders, and 8 tackles for loss, led by Braden Strahan with 3.

“We had some blitz packages early, then got away from that and dropped into coverage because our D-line was playing so well,” he said. “We’ve gotten better and better all season. We had some key losses a year ago, and we had to move some guys around to different spots. Our line has grown a lot over the past three or four weeks, and they played well Friday.”

Burton said last year’s front was senior-dominated, and new faces are making an impact.

“Bringing in Hunter Bailey and Jesus Perez to the D-line helped, and Evan brought in some experience back to set up a two- or three-year defensive team. That experience brought from last year to this year gives us a more dominant feeling.

“We executed well [Friday], and that’s probably the best game we’ve had all year with the sacks and our rushes.”

While the line up front handles the muddy work, Parnell said the Cassville secondary has been getting better, as well. The big win Friday came after a close game in Week 9 against Mt. Vernon, in which batted balls in the end zone in the final minute made the difference in the game.

“Our coverage has been good the last several weeks,” Parnell said. “Hollister threw 20-plus times and we were in the right positions all night long.

“Any time you win two or three in a row, especially with the emotional game we had against Mt. Vernon, we feed off that. Going into the first round of playoffs, the boys knew that.”

Offensively, Cassville had 266 net rushing yards, led by Anthony Tolbert. Shannon Haney went 5-for-8 passing for 147 passing yards. Bowen Preddy had 96 yards on 3 catches.

Cassville welcomes Reeds Spring to town Friday for district semifinal action. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

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