Wildcats’ eyes trained on East Newton
Cassville takes lessons from loss, moves forward
There was not much for Coach Lance Parnell to say to his football team on Friday after a 27-0 loss to Seneca other than to look ahead a week and take a step forward.
The Wildcats (2-5) were shut out for the second time this season, struggling to move the ball more than any other game. Cassville managed only 4 first downs to Seneca’s 17, and the Wildcats were outgained by the Indians, 420-96.
“We just didn’t execute,” Parnell said after the game. “It’s frustrating, as exciting as last week was, it’s equally as frustrating now.”
Landry Mills, senior lineman, said the key moving forward will be to be more focused on prep and the game.
“We have to be more focused overall as a team,” he said. “We have a quality team. We are young in some areas, but I think we can come back next week with a better performance. We take everything as a learning experience, and this loss is a good opportunity to grow and be better as a team and play better at home.”
The Patriots (1-6) come to Cassville on Friday with a lone win over Mt. Vernon, 21-14, in Week 2, one week after the Wildcats bested the same team, 27-0.
“We didn’t play well Friday and need to bounce back,” Parnell said. “It will be senior night, so that’s a special thing for our guys. We have to put last week behind us, refocus and play well.”
Part of that refocus this week will be on moving the ball again.
“We definitely struggled with that last week,” Parnell said. “The problem was in our execution. We didn’t execute up front and had some drops, so we just have to execute each and every snap.
“When I look at East Newton, I see a very hard-nosed group that plays extremely hard. They are much-improved, and I really like their quarterback and tailback. On defense, they fly around and make plays. They really pop on film.”
Parnell hopes the seniors on the team have a solid night, as it will likely be the last time they get to play in Wildcat Stadium.
“This group of seniors is not large in numbers but they have large hearts and have meant a ton to us,” Parnell said. “They bring great attitudes to practice and work hard every day not only at practice, but also in the weight room. They lead by example and in the right way, and that makes them a special group.”
Mills said the team, no matter how many seniors, is what every Cassville squad is year by year — a family.
“We are one big family, a cohesive unit,” he said. “There are times when us seniors have to lead, but our juniors do a great job leading, too.”
Keys for Cassville
• Forget the past
The Wildcats, offense especially, has to forget the dropped balls and missed assignments and get back to the kind of intensity and will they had against Monett.
• Take pride
Cassville’s program has a proud history, and the players should come into Friday with their chests puffed out, ready to put on a show for the fans.
• Enjoy the night
Senior night is special for those recognized and should be an added motivator not only for the upcoming grads, but also the underclassmen to give them a home win.
The first half was the most Cassville struggled to move the ball all year.
In six possessions, the Wildcats managed only two first downs. The first came via a pass interference call, and three plays later, an Indian interception took the ball the other way.
The second came with only seconds left in the half, a fourth-and-1 squeeze by Cutter Hicks after Seneca had taken timeouts hoping to get the ball back.
Defensively, the Wildcats fared somewhat better. Ethan Fuchs caused a fumble in the second quarter that Keaton Shellenberger recovered.
Cassville forced one Indian punt and another turnover on downs on a fourth-and-1 at the 17-yard line.
Shellenberger also blocked the Indians’ first extra-point attempt, and the Wildcats stuffed a 2-point try on Seneca’s next score.
The Indians opened the scoring with a 6-yard run that capped a 6:54 drive to start the game.
The next drive took only one play, a 56-yard option flip right and down the sideline.
Seneca connected on a well-covered 22-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to earn the 19-0 halftime edge.
After the break, the woes continued, though there was a period the Wildcats threatened. After punting to the Indians’ 21-yard line, Cassville held defensively and Seneca’s punt hooked out at its own side of midfield.
The Wildcats turned the ball over on fourth-and-2 with an incomplete pass, but on the next play, a Seneca option toss fell to the ground and Shellenberger picked up his second fumble recovery of the night.
Cassville again wound up at fourth-and-2, this time opting to run but not able to get the first.
The Indians used a catch and run to move the ball up to the Wildcats’ 43, then a play similar to the 56-yard touchdown found paydirt again, this time from 33.
Cassville continued to struggle to move the ball, and the Indians ultimately drove for most of the end of the fourth quarter to kneel out the win.
Anthonysz led the Wildcats on the ground with 60 yards on 16 carries. Hicks gained 8 yards on 3 runs and was 1-for-16 through the air, many of which went in and out of the hands of Cassville receivers. Five total Wildcats ran the ball, none of whom lost any yards.
Defensively, Anthonysz also led with 12 unassisted tackles and 4 assisted. Shellenberger was also a bright spot with 8 unassisted tackles, 2 fumble recoveries and a blocked extra-point attempt.
Kickoff on Friday against East Newton is at 7 p.m.