Wildcats wake up in win over Irish
Slow start a test of adversity for Cassville football
A slow start and a 14-point swing in 27 seconds spelled trouble for Cassville against Springfield Catholic Friday, but the Wildcats were able to pull together and overcome their issues en route to another big win.
Cassville (2-0), topped the Irish on Friday, 49-21, getting big plays on both sides of the ball after coming out of the gate a little bit flat.
“We didn’t have a clean first quarter this week, but that shows the growth in our team because we battled back and played good football from the second quarter on,” said Lance Parnell, Cassville head coach. “There are still areas for us to improve, and Catholic is a good football team. Their quarterback is a special player.”
The Wildcats at times had trouble slowing the Irish play caller, allowing him to scramble free and keep plays alive early. Up 7-0, Cassville lost a pair of fumbles, resulting in Catholic scores only 27 second apart. However, Cassville showed its moxie in the second quarter, scoring on a 21-yard pass from Deven Bates to DJ White, and 16-yard run from Bowen Preddy, then a 9-yard pass from Bates to White again with only 5 second left to play in the opening half.
Bates said the turning point for Cassville was when the team started to calm down after the second Catholic score.
“We finally calmed down, and it was a different atmosphere,” he said. “We started running the ball down their throat, and that opened up the passing game. And, the defense really stepped up. [Parnell’s] adjustments going into the second half also made a big difference.”
Tragedy was avoided in the last drive of the first half, as a miscommunication almost ran out the clock. After a clock-running play, coaches yelled for the team to get set and spike the ball, however, Bates wound up taking a knee before the spike, keeping the clock running and forcing the Wildcats to use a timeout.
“I knew something was wrong and I had to make it up to the team,” Bates said. “I did not let it get to me, and on the next play, I rolled out and saw DJ, and it went in our favor.”
Bates made good on the knee with the 9-yard pass to White, a bullet that put the Wildcats up two scores going into the intermission.
Parnell said winning big on the road was nice, but in the grand scheme of things, it was just a Week 2 win.
“In our conference, you have got to get wins every week,” he said. “This is just step two in our process. I’m really proud of how we executed in the third and fourth quarters. I thought that showed the character of this football team. We dealt with adversity well, and when the ball did not bounce our way, we overcame it.
“We were challenged by Catholic’s defense and their press, and I saw Bates grow as a quarterback. That excites me.”
Bates said the key in the game was the players keeping their heads up.
“We didn’t let the early scores get to us and we didn’t fall apart from there,” he said. “We preached to one another, and [Friday] was the first adversity we faced. It was a good night to show our leadership and do the right things.”
Cassville opened the scoring with a 10-yard option pitch to Preddy. Second-half scores came from Preddy, a 3-yard run; Zach Coenen, a 2-yard run set up by a White interception; and Bates, a 5-yard run set up by a Jericho Farris interception.
Bowen led the team on the ground with 125 yards on 17 carries and 3 touchdowns. Bates followed with 98 yards on 12 carries and one score.
Bates was 5-of-9 passing for 72 yards and two scores. White led receivers with 4 catches for 56 yards and the two scores.
Defensively, Preddy led tacklers with 6 unassisted. Coenen had 5 unassisted tackles, and Hunter Chasteen recorded a sack.
Cassville returns home Friday to host Monett in the Barry County Brawl.