Keep calm and win on
Wildcats move to 7-0, ready for district title shot
Call it the calm before the storm.
A nearly two-hour bus ride to Nevada was quiet, according to players and coaches, but the energy amped up quickly once No. 5-ranked Cassville (7-0) took the field Friday.
Prior to a 50-8 win over the Tigers, wide receiver and corner Ethan Hoppes, known as one of the more energetic and loud-spoken members of the team, said things were relaxed.
“I was asleep on the bus ride,” he said. “Usually on trips like this it’s pretty quiet, then we get to the locker room, get dressed and have a 10-minute lockdown where we get focused. We get our heads on right, then we get on the field and it’s go time.”
Lance Parnell, Cassville head coach, said the team is all business on their way to games, saving energy for when it is needed most.
“It’s quiet,” he said. “For us, it’s a business trip. We finish eating, then kids on the bus nap or talk about the game. About half-way through our pregame is when energy starts to build up. We get into our team defense and team offense warm ups, and during those run-throughs is when the boys up the hype.”
Certain players have an effect on the mood of the team, according to Hoppes.
“Logan Carlin and Zack Burton do a good job hyping us up and communicating,” Hoppes said. “And you know me — I like to talk and get in there.”
“Getting in there” was the perfect description for Hoppes on Friday. After a Nevada three-and-out, the Tigers punted the ball to Hoppes, who found room for a
55-yard return to open the scoring. His excitement for the play was on display after crossing the goal line.
“Blake Gordon and I talked about the punt and he said I should return it,” Hoppes said. “I caught it and I was set up perfectly with great blocks an went in untouched.”
Cassville’s execution continued throughout the first half. Anthony Tolbert scored on runs of 37 and 14 yards, Zack Coenen added a 1-yard rushing score, Shannon Haney scored from 11 yards out after a Deven Bates interception and DJ White reeled in three big catches on his way to a score from a 12-yard pass.
The six scores put Cassville up 43-0 midway through the second quarter.
“Our execution was great, and it was great to have a special teams touchdown to start off the scoring,” Parnell said. “Then, our defense stepped in and they did their job. We did what we needed in the first half to win the ballgame.”
Coenen added his second touchdown in the third quarter, and the Wildcats rode the turbo clock to victory in the second half.
Offensively, Cassville had 402 net yards, 300 rushing and 102 passing. Tolbert led on the ground with 124 yards on 8 attempts, an average of 15.5 yards per carry. Coenen put up 115 yards on 9 carries.
Haney was 6-for-9 passing for 10 yards and one touchdown. White reeled in five total passes for 83 yards. Hoppes also pulled in a 19-yard snag.
Defensively, Jose Melchor led with 5 unassisted tackles and 2 assisted. Carson Jacobson had 5 unassisted tackles, and Kade Hayward got 4 unassisted and 2 assisted.
Parnell said as soon as the Nevada contest was done, it was time to prep for Friday’s district-deciding Reeds Spring game.
“We have a big Week 8 game against the team that ended our season a year ago,” he said. “The 1-3 district spots are up for grabs, so our focus is on continuing to take care of business one game at a time.
Cassville faces Reeds spring on Friday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.