Cassville looks for pot of gold in matchup with Irish
Wildcats face power attack from Springfield Catholic
A state-ranked Springfield Catholic (1-0) invades Cassville (1-0) on Friday to face a Wildcat squad that received the 15th-most votes in the state-ranking polls.
People may need to forgive Cassville Football Coach Lance Parnell if he looks a bit tired this week.
Parnell, who also serves as the Wildcats defensive coordinator, has a monumental task this week in finding a way to slow down Catholic and standout quarterback Tyson Riley.
“He is a special talent,” Parnell said. “He is 6-3, 215 pounds and pops when he runs on film. You have to account for him on every play.”
Riley, who already holds scholarship offers from Missouri State, South Dakota State, South Dakota, Army, Navy and Air Force, leads the Fightin’ Irish into Cassville on the heels of a 50-42 victory over Seneca on Friday.
Catholic racked up 487 yards of offense against the Indians.
Riley accounted for up 278 yards on 22 carries, 12.6 yards per attempt, and three touchdowns, including a 78-yard jaunt.
Parnell said the gameplan for Riley is simple — tackle.
“We have to tackle at the point of attack,” Parnell said. “We have to get multiple defenders to the point of attack. When you play an option team, players must do their job. We have to make the play and not give up big plays.”
Cassville and its coaches are also aware the Irish are more than just one talent.
“Their fullback does a great job getting down field, and you have to account for their slot receivers,” Parnell said. “They all run hard, and you have to be ready for that attack.”
The Wildcats are fresh off a 42-12 win over Aurora.
Parnell said the biggest drawback was the four turnovers, three fumbles and one interception.
“The fumbles never should have happened in my opinion,” Parnell said. “We were lackadaisical with our ball security, and it cost us. That being said, we did plenty in the game that I was proud of and I felt we needed to see out of our players.”
Quarterback Shannon Haney rose to the occasion with and 11-of-15 passing performance for 136 yards and a touchdown. Haney did throw an interception, but Parnell said he did not mind his quarterback taking a chance on that throw and credited the Aurora defender for making a good play.
Additionally, the Wildcats unveiled a group of receivers that made Haney’s job easier.
“We had five different players catch a ball,” Parnell said. “They did a great job getting open and then making a play when the ball arrived. I think you saw a mix of Shannon’s leadership and a receiving group that we thought could be a factor for us this season.”
Parnell singled out and praised senior Blake Gordon, who bided his time on the junior varsity team and made the most his first career varsity start.
“I can’t express how proud I am of Blake,” Parnell said. “He worked hard in our system, got stuck behind other players but never quit. He comes out and catches three passes and gets a touchdown. That, to me, was impressive.”
While the Indians rolled up over 500 yards of offense on the Irish defense, Parnell said it is tough to compare Seneca’s and Cassville’s offensive styles.
“I don’t think we can look at Seneca and say we can do that to Catholic,” Parnell said. “We just need to do what we do to the best of our ability and let the game play out.”
If Riley’s name sounds familiar to Cassville fans, his father Ozzie Riley spent two years as the head coach of Mt. Vernon before Tom Cox took back over the program.
Keys for Cassville
• Eyes on Tyson
The senior standout called his own number 45 percent of the time against Seneca but accounted for 55 percent of the offense. Stop him, and you hamper the Irish machine.
• Roll on Wildcats
Cassville did a great job of spreading the ball around and involving lots of players on offense. This is something the Wildcats have missed in the last few seasons. More options make them less predictable and an infinitely more tough opponent.
• Defense on display
This game is shaping up to be a shoot out. Two or three defensive stops by one team could potentially win the contest. Or, one team could have a stellar night. Anyway you look at it, the team who plays the best defense on Friday likely wins the game.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.