Twice is nice!
Determined Wildcats take district title
It was the sweetest type of revenge for Cassville on Friday, as the Wildcats lived up to their top district seeding and defeated Mt. Vernon, one of only two teams they have lost to all season long, to earn a second consecutive district title.
Having not played since Oct. 30, Coach Lance Parnell was a bit worried his team may be too relaxed at the start of the contest, but the Wildcats quickly dashed his concerns.
“We came out with great intensity and emotion in the first quarter and executed well, and I was worried about that because we hadn’t played in 20 days,” Parnell said. “I was worried we would come out a little rusty and shaky and make some little mistakes, but we didn’t do that in the first quarter and got out to the early lead.”
Cassville started the contest with a quick score. A few plays after getting good field position on a pooch kick, Jericho Farris took advantage of a big block upfield by Drake Reese to gain 37, setting up Zach Coenen for a 2-yard plunge into paydirt.
The Wildcats then forced a punt and moved the ball 58 yards, culminating in another Coenen punch, this time from 3 out, to go up 14-0.
“Then, I thought we relaxed and lost our composure a little bit in the second quarter, which bugged me,” Parnell said. “We stopped executing the way we should, but I’m really proud of how they came back in the second half, regained that composure and took control of the game.”
In the second quarter, the Wildcats lost a fumble, and two possessions later, Mt. Vernon found the scoreboard.
Multiple Cassville penalties on the drive helped the Mountaineers get to the 9, and a scrambling pass connected in the end zone as time expired to make it a one-score game at the break.
After halftime, the Wildcats came alive. They forced a punt on the Mountaineers’ first drive, then on Cassville’s first offensive play, Farris sprinted 68 yards to extend the lead.
Mt. Vernon added a 4-yard running score to cap an 80-yard drive, but the Wildcats put the game out of reach with two more scores.
On the first, Coenen gained 23, then Farris picked up 19 and Sink shoved the line in for the final yard.
The second saw Farris gain 25, Sink get 13, then Farris 2 more and Sink finishing from 2.
From there, Mt. Vernon took to the air, finding little success, and Cassville ran the clock, ultimately kneeling out the final seconds.
Sink said the two weeks off ended up being a big help to the team.
“We played great and had a great two weeks of prep,” he said. “We got to rest our bodies, so we had everyone at 100 percent.”
The ball movement in the second half was exactly what the Wildcats were looking for, and Parnell and Sink both credited the line for big gains.
“That’s who we are and what we are,” Parnell said. “We have three really good running backs in Zach, Jericho and Hayden, and our offensive line is a talented group, a very talented group. They blocked their tail ends off and I’m proud of them, because we don’t get those yards without those big boys up front.”
“We kept running trap, which was working really well, and our offensive line blocked amazing,” Sink said. “They made our jobs as running backs and quarterback easy.”
Defensively, Cassville was able to take away the big play from the Mountaineers, which is what hurt the Wildcats in the Week 1 loss.
“We did what we needed to do defensively and executed our game plan very well,” Parnell said. “You can’t take away everything, and we didn’t take away the vertical passing very well the first time, but we did that tonight.”
“I’m proud of my defense because they played great and eliminated the big play, which we had problems with in the past,” Sink said. “I think that’s what made us come out on top.”
The Wildcats will now host Buffalo in the state quarterfinal. The game is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium, with the victor to face the winner of the Summit Christian Academy-Maryville game in the semifinals.
The other side of the bracket will see the winners of the Kennett-Cardinal Ritter and Lutheran North-Blair Oaks contests meet the other semifinal.