Cassville keeps pace with growth

Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Jericho Farris turns the corner on a would-be tackler during Friday’s win at Nevada. Kyle Troutman/

Offensive sprout at Nevada a positive for ‘Cats

It wasn’t all cheers and joy after a 47-28 win over Nevada Friday, but Cassville’s football team was encouraged to have grown as a team in another week.

The Wildcats’ offense was big Friday, but the third quarter was cause for concern in the mind of Coach Lance Parnell. Up 33-8, the Wildcats allowed the Tigers to bring the deficit to 12 before scoring one more time to salt away the game.

“I’m super pleased with the effort, and we played a great two-and-a-half quarters,” Parnell said. “We’ve had great growth from Week 1 to Week 2, and now from Week 2 to Week 3. I love it, but I think we relaxed when up 33-8 and we didn’t finish the way I expected. We are always looking for things to improve on, and that’s what we’ll work on next week.”

Offensively, the Wildcats were stellar. Running back Jericho Farris recorded four touchdowns, wide receiver Drake Reese added two, and quarterback Cutter Hicks punched in one. The windfall of points was a big positive for a team that has changed its offense so much since preseason.

“We had to change our offense after the jamboree, then we had to change it in Week 1, and we changed it again last week,” Parnell said. “[Friday] we played outstanding offense and threw and caught the ball well. We were also good up front, and that let us move the ball all night long.”

Killian Barbee, senior linebacker who recovered a fumble that set up one of Farris’ scores, said on the defensive side of the ball, Nevada was a lot to keep up with.

“They use a lot of misdirection and it’s tough to get used to,” he said. “They really come straight at you, and we had to adapt.”

Parnell said it was a battle.

“What Nevada does is something you can’t replicate in practice,” he said. “That first drive [where they scored], we were getting our legs under us. We played good from there on out.”

The team’s only worry was in the third quarter, when the Tigers began to storm back.

“[Keeping ahead in those scenarios] is an experience thing,” Parnell said. “We have to look for our leaders to step up, and we will lean on them.”

Barbee said the Wildcats may have relaxed a little too much up by 25 points.

“They got it to a 12-point game because we were a little relaxed,” he said. “It’s hard to be a leader when you start going down like that, but we’ve got guys who step up and do it.

Cassville found paydirt on Nevada’s turf a hurry. Three plays in, Farris broke free on a pitch left and trucked 58 yards to give Cassville the lead.

Nevada answered with a 19-yard rushing score and 2-point play, but that was the Tigers’ only score of the half.

On the ensuing kickoff, Brett Cooper returned to the 34 and Reese pulled down a 50-yard strike up the middle. The play set up Farris to trot in from 6 and reclaim the lead.

At that point in the opening frame, Cassville had scored twice with only 3:44 in possession.

The Wildcats stayed hot. After forcing a punt, a 40-yard Farris run set up Hicks for a 1-yard keeper.

After another defensive hold and Cassville drive, Reese bolted in from 15 yards to provide the 27-8 halftime score.

Cassville extended the score to 33-8 with a fumble recovery and 25-yard Reese catch to set up Farris for a 9-yard score.

It was at this point Nevada found its energy. After trading big passing plays and quick touchdowns, the Tigers returned a kickoff 94 yards for a score, then added another to bring it to a two-score game.

However, Nevada’s steam ran out after recovering an onside kick. Cassville held defensively, ran the clock and punched in one more Farris score to secure the win.

The Wildcats are on the road again Friday, traveling to Logan-Rogersville.

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