Part II: Wildcats vs. Indians
Cassville wary of rematch with Big 8 foe
In the Big 8 Conference, beating any team once has its difficulties.
Given the current playoff structure, it is not that uncommon that teams play in the regular season, then turn around and meet in the playoffs.
Such is the case for Cassville (10-0) and Seneca (5-5).
The two squads tangled in Week 4, with the Wildcats earning a 62-27 victory, however, both Lance Parnell, Cassville coach, and Ryan McFarland, Seneca coach, agree that past results are not always indicative of future predictions.
“With the way our playoff system is, you are going to play people twice,” said Lance Parnell, Cassville coach. “I think it is harder to beat a team the second time, and I think both coaches are watching film thinking what can we do different to get an edge.
“Seneca is very explosive offensively and they have three very good skill guys in [Gavin] Clouse, [quarterback], Trey Wilson and Monty Mailes, [running backs]. All three can score every time they touch it and are very good players.”
Seneca is averaging 269.5 yards a game rushing and 102 yards per game passing.
Against Cassville, the Indians managed 199 yards rushing. In four of its last five games, the team has rushed for 255 yards or more, including a 398 yards performance against Monett.
Clouse has rushed for 1,008 yards on the season and is averaging 7.36 yards per carry. He netted 52 yards against the Wildcats in Week 4.
Wilson has gobbled up 857 yards on the ground this season at a 6.54 yards per carry clip, and he rushed for 94 yards and 10.44 yards per carry against the Wildcats.
Mailes has another 508 yards rushing for Seneca and collected 10 percent of those against the Wildcats earlier this season.
Cassville continues to be balanced on the ground, led by Anthony Tolbert with 822 yards and a 10.5 yards per carry average. Shannon Haney has 556, Bowen Preddy is at 568 and Zach Coenen has 463 yards rushing on the season, giving the Wildcats more options and defenses more headaches on the ground.
Parnell said the Wildcats will pay extra attention to special teams this week after surrendering two kickoff returns for touchdown to Seneca the first time.
“A big part of that was focus,” Parnell said. “I think at that point in the game, we weren’t as sharp or focused as we needed to be. We know that Mailes and Wilson are back deep and they can take it to the house, and we are just gonna buckle down and make plays.”
When asked if he felt Seneca was a better team than the one they faced almost two months ago, Parnell was quick to answer.
“I think they are a lot better,” he said. “Defensively, they are better up front and they have some kids playing where they want them now. Offensively, they are healthy up front, as well.”
McFarland said his team battled injuries the first part of the season and choose to look at the bright side that several young Indians were thrust into the fire and forced to grow. However, he believes his team is rounding into form late in the season.
“Our first five weeks of the season was rough,” McFarland said. “Any time you have kids stepping into new roles you never know what you are going to get. We had a few injuries to throw in there that you never anticipated having, but I am proud of the kids because they have stepped up and worked hard. I think the last three or four weeks, we have seen that pay off on the football field.”
McFarland said the onus of the game will be placed upon his defensive unit.
“We have to stop Cassville a little better than we did the first time we played,” McFarland said. “Cassville has so many weapons offensively to hurt you, and we have to account for those players. I don’t think we played too bad offensively last time we played them. We just have to hang onto the ball and extend drives. The more we’re on the field and the less they are on the field, the better our chances are Friday.”
Keys for Cassville
• Big Mo early
The Wildcats will be at home in front of a large crowd. They need to seize the momentum early in this game. If they do, the energy from the crowd may be enough to carry them to a victory.
• Ball security
Seneca’s offense has improved greatly, and for the first time, they are healthy. The Wildcats do not need to give the Indians any extra possessions.
• Big D
The defensive line for Cassville will decide this game. If Seneca continuously gets to the second level, things could get dicey.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.