Wildcats stay the course
Battle for win over Seneca shows team’s determination
A close and tough game Friday was blown open in the second half by Cassville, which Coach Lance Parnell said is a testament to the team’s determination to get wins at this point in the season.
The breaking point came in the third quarter. Quarterback Hayden Sink scored on a 10-yard diving run, then Seneca hit a big pass for a 79-yard touchdown.
A perceived Cassville fumble was then ruled second down for the ‘Cats, and on the next play, they took a personal foul. Then, the Wildcats’ crowd wanted a pass interference on a long bomb on the sideline. On fourth down, the Cassville punt seemingly hit the Seneca returner and Wildcats recovered, but it was ruled back to Seneca.
On their next drive, the Indians attempted a fourth-down conversion but the snap was high. On the next play, Sink hit receiver Drake Reese for a 33-yard score to go up 35-21.
“That score and momentum boost was huge, but this win is a testament to our kids rising to the occasion,” Parnell said. “They didn’t drop their heads, and they fought through adversity to get this win.
Part of the success of the team Friday was at the line of scrimmage.
“They’ve done a great job all year long, and [Friday night], our offensive line was missing two starters,” Parnell said. “A lot of guys have been playing both ways or new positions, and they’ve played well.”
Parnell said despite the changes, the team operates by the “next man up” philosophy.
“We haven’t done anything different,” Parnell said. “We prepare in a way to have everyone ready, because at some point, we know we’re going to need them. We prepare our kids from a young age to be ready when their number is called.”
Patrick Dunker, senior lineman, said every contest with the Indians is a tough one.
“It was a tough battle for us to face, but I think we handled it well,” he said. “Our new guys were tested tonight on how far they could push themselves, and they stepped up.”
Dunker said the crowd involvement, especially in the third quarter, was also a boon for the team.
“When the crowd gets into it, we feel a momentum boost because the fans push us to drive for greatness,” he said.
Cassville started the contest Friday with a punishing ground game, going 65 yards on the turf, less one short pass, with Zach Coenen breaking free for a 29-yard touchdown run.
Seneca quickly quieted the crowd. After switching formations at the line, the Indians hit an 80-yard touchdown pass on their first play from scrimmage.
Following a Cassville punt, Seneca again found paydirt through the air, this time from 36 yards for a 13-7 lead.
The rest of the half, however, belonged to the Wildcats. A 26-yard Reese catch set up Jericho Farris for an 8-yard scoring scamper on the next play.
Cassville got the ball back with just over 4 minutes left in the half and took advantage. After a couple of deep shots, Sink connected with Brett Cooper for a 39-yard gain. Farris punched it in from 2 to put the Wildcats up two scores.
Seneca threatened with only 41 seconds left, hitting a long pass to the 23, then again to the 10. But an overthrown end zone pass kept it 21-13 for Cassville at the break.
Cassville ran clock on the next possession and added one more Sink score to seal the win.