It’s all in how you start

Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Cassville’s Deven Bates fights for yards on a run during the Wildcats’ win on Friday. Bates tallied 101 yards on 5 carries and scored a 72-yard touchdown. Kyle Troutman/

Cassville not looking past Mustangs Friday

Even though the exact language used was not recorded, Cassville Coach Lance Parnell got the message across to his team that he was not pleased with his club’s first-half performance against East Newton on Friday.

“East Newton played hard, and they just beat us in the first half,” Parnell said. “This is Big 8 football, and you cannot take any one or any game for granted.”

Part of Parnell’s ire was due to the fact the Wildcats trailed 7-0 to a Patriot squad that every pundit had predicted the Wildcats to steamroll.

Instead of starting fast, the Patriots hit the Wildcats square in the mouth, and had it not been for a couple of defensive stands, Cassville could have faced a larger deficit at intermission.

“Each week, you have to be ready to play when the whistle blows,” Parnell said. “We coaches have to do a better job getting kids ready, but the players also have to be ready.”

As aggravating as the first half of Friday’s 21-7 win was for the head coach, he did find the silver lining.

“I thought we adjusted well at halftime,” Parnell said. “In three of the last four weeks, we have faced a few different types of obstacles, and we showed the ability to overcome them. I like that we can dig deep and fight.”

When it comes to fixing what ails the team Parnell does not shy away from the area that needs the most growth right now.

“We have got to be more physical up front,” Parnell said. “We are an option, power run team, and if we can’t move guys up front, that is a problem. It is something that we will continue to work on and something we will improve upon.”

Cassville travels to Anderson on Friday to face a Mustangs team that is 2-3 on the season.

McDonald County has picked up wins over East Newton, 25-22, and Nevada, 35-0, while dropping contests to Marshfield, Logan-Rogersville and Hollister.

“They are very balanced in what they do,” Parnell said. “They have a good running back and have the ability to throw the ball a bit. We are not looking past them.”

Wildcats fans may still recall the game two years ago in Anderson where the Mustangs shocked Cassville, 21-14. The Wildcats exacted revenge last year with a 37-6 win, and Friday is a chance to show that Cassville can play a complete game.

Keys for Cassville

• Answer the call

The Wildcats have already been challenged this week by the coaches to start the game with energy and focus. Friday will be the first chance they have to respond to their coaches.

• Upfront and down low

The Wildcats’ line has been shaky the last three games. With the regular season half over, this young line must take steps forward to show that they have grown.

• Ball control

Cassville must hang on to the ball and sustain drives if it wants the next win.

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