Wildcats work way to win
Second-half performances a staple for Cassville
Time and time again, Cassville’s football team has shown its ability to do two things — punch in scores just before halftime and play a stronger second half than first.
Saturday was a Cassville classic in that regard, as the Wildcats rolled to a 41-16 state quarterfinal victory over Buffalo.
The game was chilly and wet, with intermittent showers and slick field conditions that made solid footing difficult for some runners.
“It was sloppy, so getting movement on the edges wasn’t easy,” said running back Zach Coenen. “Whoever was more physical and moved the line of scrimmage would win the game.
Coach Lance Parnell echoed the importance of line play in a muddy contest.
“It was going to be who wins the war in the trenches, and I think it was our big boys up front,” he said. “Offensive Coordinator Clay Weldy says it best, ‘We feel like we are built for any weather conditions with what we do offensively.’ I think that was shown today in the muddy, nasty trek, we lined up and ran the football.
“That’s who we are, that’s what we want to do and what we’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. I’m very proud of how we played up front on our offensive line, and our backs ran hard.”
All of the Wildcats’ scores came on the ground, with running back Jericho Farris getting the first points on a 4-yard run.
The offensive line also put in its work, pushing 2 yards to allow quarterback Hayden Sink to score for a 13-9 lead.
The scenario was repeated later in the quarter, when Sink pushed in again from 2 to take the lead to 20-9 with only 3 seconds left before the break.
Buffalo pulled within 4 in the third quarter, but a 74-yard Coenen jaunt put an exclamation point on the Wildcats’ ground prowess.
Sink also added another score. From about the 8, he dropped the ball on a handoff but recovered, then he hit the line at the 5 and pushed his way into paydirt again to go up 34-16. Coenen added a 6-yard run in the final frame to cap the scoring.
Parnell said the game was a testament to the Wildcats’ line and ability to run the football.
“All three of those guys, [Coenen, Farris and Sink], we’ve talked about our three-headed monster all year long,” Parnell said. “All three played well and ran hard, and when we needed big yards, one of those three got it for us.”
As for the team’s ability to turn the heat up in second halves consistently, Coenen said the recipe is great coaching.
“Sometimes teams come out with stuff we haven’t necessarily prepared for as best as we should, and when we see that in the game and our coaches make great halftime adjustments, we turn it on,” he said.
“Sometimes it takes us a little while to get woke up, I guess,” Parnell said. “I know they like a challenge, and I don’t know, maybe they like causing me to lose more hair and get more gray hair.”
Cassville will hit the road Saturday, going 290 miles to Maryville for a shot at the state title game. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.