Wildcats crave consistency in final contests
Cassville wins big over Nevada, but not as pretty as it would like
Any win is better than a loss, but not all wins are equal.
Cassville dealt with that truth Friday following a 42-14 win over Nevada that just wasn’t as satisfying as it should have been.
“This was one of those we didn’t play with great focus,” said Lance Parnell, Cassville head coach. “In the first half, we were not focused defensively, but we were focused offensively. In the second half, we were more focused defensively, especially in the third quarter, but we were less focused offensively.
“That’s deal with 16-, 17- and 18-year-old kids. That’s something we strive for, to play four quarters week-in and week-out.”
“Coach always says it’s better to have an ugly win than a pretty loss,” said senior defensive end Andrew Prier. “It wasn’t the best. We played OK, and it just worked out.”
When asked what the biggest key for Cassville is going forward, Prier answered in one word — consistency.
“We can be very good, but sometimes, hmm. Coach has five things he tells us to work on, and one of those is big plays. We have to stop giving up big plays.”
While Cassville limited big plays Friday, it was third and fourth downs for the Tigers that gave them trouble.
Cassville started the game with DJ White taking the kickoff to the 39-yard line. After one short play, White reeled in a 24-yard reception from Deven Bates, then Bowen Preddy broke free for a 33-yard touchdown run only 1:09 into the game.
After forcing a Nevada punt, downed at Cassville’s 27-yard line, Bates found White wide open for a 73-yard catch-and-run to paydirt.
Nevada found the scoreboard after a clock-eating drive with multiple third- and fourth-down conversions, capped by a 2-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-goal.
“Whenever we gave up the first few first downs, it took down morale, so leadership needs to step up,” Prier said. “When they start talking, people listen, and we get going and destroy. We need to work on communicating and letting each other know what needs to happen.”
Despite the drive’s affect on the defense, Cassville’s offense took over the game with another three scores before half.
Jericho Farris capped a 57-yard drive with a 6-yard rushing score; Zach Coenen scored on a 5-yard run to end a 49-yard drive; and a 39-yard White catch and 22-yard Farris run led to a 13-yard Farris rush to paydirt for the 29-point lead at intermission.
Parnell said certain matchups with the Tigers allowed Cassville to open up the passing playbook a bit.
“We are always going to take what we feel like they give us,” he said. “We had some alignment things we thought we’d take advantage of in the passing game. Coach [Clay] Weldy did a good job and called a good ballgame. He saw some things he liked formation-wise, and that let us throw the ball a little more than in the past couple weeks.”
The second half slowed down with the teams trading punts, then White caught a fumble dropped directly into his arms by a Tiger runner.
After both teams turned the ball over on downs, Farris found a seam and went 43 yards to the end zone to provide the mercy rule clock.
Nevada added a 10-yard rushing score in the last minute of the game.
Parnell said with only two games left on the schedule — Reeds Spring at home and Lamar on the road — the Wildcats will have to be more focused than they were on Friday.
“With those two teams coming up, we have two big challenges,” he said. “We have to take it one week at a time. We have got to control line of scrimmage and tackle better than we did [Friday], and offensively, we have to continue to execute.”
Cassville outgained Nevada 381 yards to 240. Farris led on the ground with 93 yards on 7 carries and three touchdowns. Preddy, with 83 yards on 5 carries, and Coenen, with 38 yards on 4 carries, each had one rushing score.
Bates was 5-for-11 through the air on a chilly night, still tallying 158 yards and one score. White caught all five passes for the same stat line.
Defensively, multiple Wildcats had big nights. Coenen led with 11 unassisted tackles and 1 assisted, Farris had 9 unassisted and 1 assisted, Jacob Olberts had 7 unassisted and 4 assisted, Prier had 6 unassisted and 1 assisted, and Carson Jacobson had 5 unassisted and 1 assisted. Jacob Hall also recorded two tackles for loss.