Turnover creation key for Cassville
Wildcats use fumble, interception, blocked punt to get win over Reeds Spring
On the white board in the Cassville football team’s locker room, Coach Lance Parnell writes his keys to the game for players before heading out to the field, and one of those keys never changes — create turnovers.
The Wildcats (7-1), now ranked No. 9 in Class 3, did just that on Friday, blocking a Reeds Spring punt, returning an interception for a touchdown and recovering two fumbles en route to a 42-7 win over the Wolves at home.
“In practice, we’ve been focusing on turnover creation,” said Carson Jacobson, Cassville linebacker. “When we wrap up, we always try to strip the ball, and we are always looking for fumbles and picks when playing 7v7.”
Jerome Ewing’s interception on Friday, which he returned 15 yards for a touchdown, was a result of his perfect reading of the play, stepping right in front of a pass he knew was coming.
“We watch a lot of film, and Jerome knew that was coming,” Jacobson said.
Parnell said he was happy with the Wildcats’ performance overall, calling it a four-quarter effort.
“I felt we played a complete four quarters,” he said. “We talk a lot about striving for the perfect football game, and we set high expectations for ourselves [as coaches], the players and the program. We had some mistakes, but overall, we played really well.”
Parnell said the quartet of turnovers was just about players being in the right places at the right times.
“We set up our first three scores from turnovers,” he said. “And the defense and the offense work hand in hand. The offense executed exceptionally well, especially in the first half, and coach Clay Weldy did a great job prepping for the game.”
Jacobson agreed it was a full-game effort from him and his teammates.
“We definitely played four quarters,” he said. “We let them score on that one drive where I don’t think we were focused, but we played really well on both sides of the ball.”
The Wildcats kicked off to the Wolves and after allowing one first down, blocked a punt and took the ball at the Reeds Spring 35-yard line. It took six plays for Cassville to score, with DJ White catching a 26-yard pass, then a 4-yard pass for the score.
On the next possession, Zach Coenen recovered a lost option pitch by Reeds Spring and took over at the Wolves’ 35-yard line again. White found the end zone for the second time with a 22-yard catch and run, breaking a tackle to find paydirt.
Reeds Spring then found its only touchdown of the night, going on a drive that took nearly 9 minutes off the game clock and scoring on a 6-yard run.
Cassville’s next possession ended in a punt, but on the Wolves’ first play, Ewing read and intercepted a pass and went 15 yards for a pick-6 and a 21-7 lead at halftime.
The Wildcats took over the game in the second half. In their first play from scrimmage, Coenen embarked on a 68-yard run, then Deven Bates added another 7 for the score.
Bowen Preddy scored later in the quarter on a 53-yard touchdown pass. The final score was a 30-yard run by Coenen, set up by two runs by Preddy for 32 total yards.
Ethan Fuchs recovered a fumble with about two minutes to play to allow the Wildcats’ backups to run out the rest of the clock.
Offensively, Coenen led rushers with 114 yards on 6 carries, and Preddy tallied 56 yards on 9 carries.
Bates was 4-for-5 through the air for 102 yards and 3 touchdowns. White and Preddy nearly split the yards, with White getting 55 yards on 3 catches and Preddy going 47 yards on a solo catch.
Defensively, Jacob Olbertz led tacklers with 9 unassisted. Coenen had 6 unassisted and 3 assisted, and Jericho Farris and Jacobson each had 5 unassisted and 1 assisted.
Cassville’s final regular-season contest is on the road Friday against Lamar. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.