‘Cats refocus for Nevada ground game

Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Hernan Hernandez reaches for a pass on the Wildcats’ first drive Friday. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Parnell: Team has to play more disciplined

It was the best of games, it was the worst of games, it was a week of hope, followed by a week of despair.

The Cassville football team (1-1) started the season with a bang, defeating Mt. Vernon 27-0, but the Wildcats’ fortunes turned on Friday, as they fell on the road to Marshfield, 35-0.

Ethan Fuchs loses a ball on a run for the Wildcats in Marshfield Friday. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

This week, Cassville is hoping to right the ship, welcoming a high-scoring Nevada team (2-0) to Wildcats Stadium.

“Each week, we face something a little different, and Nevada is a run-first and come-at-you football team,” said Lance Parnell, Cassville coach. “We have to gear up and play good football to slow that run attack.”

The Tigers have put up more than 50 points in each of its first two games, besting Logan-Rogersville and Hollister, and Parnell said for the Wildcats to get the win, playing composed defense will be key.

“We did not tackle well in Marshfield,” Parnell said. “We missed too many tackles, especially on their quarterback, that resulted in big plays. It’s those little things that we talk about that we have to do a good job at and be better at this week. We didn’t play disciplined or execute well on either side of the ball, and we didn’t play physical.”

Hernan Hernandez, a junior and the only returning full-time starter from the 2020 team, said the Mt. Vernon win was a motivator, and the Marshfield loss will be, too.

“That win was some really good motivation for us, but [on Friday] we did not come out and play disciplined,” he said. “We will keep our heads high and look to this week and a good Nevada team.”

The Jays lit up the statbook on Friday, throwing for 261 yards on 22-of-25 passes and rushing for another 162 yards on 22 attempts. The Wildcats rushed 48 times for 170 yards and went 2-for-9 passing for 13 yards.

As the game played out, it seemed for every one positive thing the Wildcats did, a barrage of negatives followed. An example of this was Keaton Shellenberger’s tackle for loss, then sack to force a punt — huge plays for Cassville. However, the punt was muffed and the Wildcats were pinned inside their 5 and forced to punt. That kick curved out at the 30, and the Jays scored just a few plays later.

“We didn’t deal with those bad things well when they happened in a row,” Parnell said. “We dug some holes for ourselves and could not punch out of them. We also didn’t prepare as well last week, and that was evident in our performance. We have to prepare better to do a better job this week and improve on the little things, and that’s on me.”

Hernandez said responding to the setbacks against the Jays was a challenge.

“It was difficult to respond, but we try to communicate every play,” he said. “We did some good, but not enough. We have to work this week on stopping Nevada’s run and work on passing and our discipline in practice.”

Parnell said the Wildcats knew this season would bring growing pains, and the Marshfield loss was exactly that.

“[Friday night] was not indicative of how our football season will go, and we have to focus more, travel better and achieve some growth,” he said. “We’ll have highs and lows, and we have to focus on getting better every day and every week.”

Parnell said the focus this week will be two-fold — sound defense and controlled offense.

“We want to try to control the tempo offensively,” Parnell said. “Nevada is defensively sound in what they do, and they are explosive offensively. For us to be successful, we have to play well on defense and move the football, controlling the clock offensively.”

Cassville’s backfield looked a little different in Marshfield, as well, with sophomore Bryson Jacobson’s workload expanding. Junior Jadon Ewing, who rushed for 162 yards in Week 1, did not play against the Jays.

“We have four kids that will carry the ball this week,” Parnell said. “Trey Wilson was sick last week and missed some practices, so his role should increase.”

Jacobson rushed 15 times for 64 yards to lead Cassville. Ethan Fuchs also took 15 handoffs, gaining 30 yards. Quarterback Cutter Hicks ran 10 times for 48 yards, and Wilson picked up 22 yards on 6 carries.

Defensively, Jake Anthonsyz led with 7 unassisted tackles and an interception. Shellenberger had four unassisted and five assisted, with a sack and a tackle for loss, both totaling 13 yards. Jacobson added 6 unassisted tackles and 1 for a loss.

Full Marshfield recap

The Jays started the contest hot, picking up a couple of firsts through the air, then quarterback Bryant Bull dropped a snap but picked it up and darted right 43 yards to open the scoring.

Cassville had a long pass fall through Hernandez’s hands on its first drive and was forced to punt. Bull then connected a 66-yard pass up to the 12, but the Wildcats held and the Jays’ field goal attempt went wide.

After being forced to punt again, Anthonysz tallied his third turnover of the season, intercepting a pass at the 1-yard line.

Runs by Jacobson and Hicks moved the ball to midfield, but the Wildcats were forced to punt again.

This defensive series, Shellenberger showed his grit, tackling a Jays back to force third-and-17, then sacking Bull to force a punt.

The catch, however, was muffed and pinned the Wildcats at their own 5-yard line. Stuffed and forced to punt into the wind, the kick curled out at the 30.

Bull scrambled to complete a pass to the 8, then found a lane to put his team up 14-0.

The Wildcats got some momentum in the form of a Garrett Ewing return to the 42, but after crossing midfield, Cassville was forced to punt again.

Marshfield took advantage of holes in the secondary on its next drive, passing most of the 70 yards to the end zone for a 3-yard Bull run for score and a 21-0 lead at the half.

Marshfield continued the onslaught in the third quarter.

Cassville lost a fumble in its own territory, and the Jays made the Wildcats pay with a 19-yard touchdown throw.

Cassville moved across midfield on the next drive but turned it over on downs, and the Jays drove back 58 yards to punch in a 7-yard run and activate the turbo clock.

It was the first time Cassville has been on the receiving end of a turbo clock since a 50-0 loss to Lamar in Week 1 of the 2016 season.

Kickoff against Nevada on Friday is at 7 p.m.

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