Wildcats aim to upset No. 1 Lamar
Cassville puts focus on tackling, containing Tigers
A big week awaits the Cassville football team (1-3), as the Wildcats head north to face the No. 1-ranked team in Class 2, perennial power Lamar.
The defending state champions have been blazing their way though the Big 8 this season, toppling Springfield Catholic, Reeds Spring, McDonald County and Nevada by a combined score of 179-42.
Lance Parnell, Cassville football coach, said a big key for his Wildcats this week will be on the defensive side of the ball, aiming to contain the potent Tigers’ offense.
“The big thing with Lamar is they have evolved under Coach [Jared] Beshore and are good at getting to the edge and stretching you out defensively,” Parnell said. “We want to keep them to the sidelines and not give them any vertical cuts.”
The ability to accomplish that goal will rely heavily on something the Wildcats have been working to improve on all season — tackling.
“We are definitely still improving because we missed a lot in open space last week,” Parnell said. “Logan-Rogersville’s quarterback is an athletic kid and we have to become better overall as a tackling football team. It will be really important that we tackle well this week in Lamar, because they have multiple guys that can get the ball in their hands and be explosive.”
Parnell said the Cassville defense has been jumbled a bit this season, with players having to change positions or learn new roles quickly.
“We’ve seen a lot of moving parts this season and have been juggling some guys around and playing different positions than where they started the year,” he said. “But, we have been transitioning to those new roles and fitting in well.”
That ability to adapt has been a strength of the Wildcats this season.
“We’ve had to adapt because we were hit with injuries early,” Parnell said. “Moving some guys around, being unselfish and doing what we needed to do team-wise has been a big piece of that.”
Offensively, the focus this week is on ball control and line control.
“We want to hang onto the football,” Parnell said. “We’re still struggling with some turnovers and putting ourselves in bad situations, so we have to protect the football and grind out drives against a great team with a speedy defense.”
A big contributor to success, Parnell said, will be the men in the trenches.
“Our offensive line will be huge for us this week in how they come off the ball and control the line of scrimmage,” he said.
Keys for Cassville
• Contain the run
Lamar has one of the best misdirection offenses in high school football. The Wildcats have to not lose the ball, then not lose the man carrying it.
• Utilize the run
Cassville prides itself on a stout running offense, and the Wildcats will have to use that plan this week to keep the ball out of the Tigers’ hands.
• Play big
Nothing feels better than knocking a No. 1 off the podium. The Wildcats have to play physical, heads-up football to come home with a win.
Cassville’s comeback bid against Logan-Rogersville came up short in a 28-13 loss on Friday.
The game was much closer than the final 15-point margin, as Rogersville tacked on a touchdown in the final 15 seconds of regulation.
Cassville put themselves in great position with a trick play in the fourth quarter.
Keaton Schellenberger connected with Hernan Hernandez for an 89-yard pitch-and-catch off of a halfback option with 7:30 left in the game. However, the extra point was blocked.
Rogersville responded with a drive and Cole Martin scored from 5 yards out with 2:59 left in the game to make it 21-13.
Cassville was unable to move the ball on the run and turned it over on downs to seal the game.
The first half would be better described as two boxers standing their collective ground and taking the best of what their opponent had to offer.
Rogersville had the advantage of better field position, but the Wildcats’ defense showed no fear, stuffing the visiting Wildcats on two consecutive drives.
However, the first break of the game went Rogersville’s way, as Cassville’s special teams had a miscue on the snap of a punt and Rogersville took over at the Cassville 19.
The visitors only needed five plays for Patrick Comito to score from four yards out to give Rogersville a 7-0 lead.
Unfazed, Cassville came right back with an impressive eight play, 75-yard drive with Jake Anthonysz scoring from four yards out with 9:52 left in the first half.
Logan-Rogersville garnered 342 total yards, 239 on the ground and 103 through the air, and Cassville tallied 306, 183 rushing and 123 passing.
Six Wildcats recorded rushes in the game. Anthonysz led with 74 yards gained on 15 carries and one score, and Cutter Hicks put up 59 yards on 16 carries. Ethan Fuchs had five carries for 11 yards, Bryson Jacobson had four for 16 yards, and Jarryd Reynolds and Hernan Hernandez each carried once, for 17 and 6 yards, respectively.
Hicks went 4-for-10 through the air for 42 yards, and Hernandez was the biggest beneficiary of the pass game, catching four passes for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Keaton Shellenberger led with 6 unassisted tackles and 4 assisted. Fuchs and Jacobson also each had 6 unassisted tackles. Trey Wilson recovered a fumble for the Wildcats.