Wildcats face week one pressure

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
The Wildcats open the 2014-15 season on the road Friday at Aurora, coach Lance Parnell begins his second season at the helm. Chuck Nickle Special to the Cassville Democrat

Long-time conference foe awaits Wildcat Nation

Ready or not, the first week of the high school football season is here.

It's hard for some to fathom two August games, but that has become the new reality with the Missouri State High School Activities Association adjusting the season so all games, regular season and playoffs, will be played on Fridays.

Cassville's River Phelps reels in a pass doing the Wildcats' jamboree play last week. Cassville will travel to Aurora Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Chuck Nickle Special to the Cassville Democrat

Despite the earlier start time, the Wildcats, under second-year coach Lance Parnell, are set to open the 2014-15 against a familiar foe in Aurora.

The game has extra meaning for both teams. Not only are they both conference opponents, the winner gets the upper hand in the important district standings.

"It is going to be a tough game," Parnell said. Aurora is big and tough front. They are well coached and will be a challenge."

The Houn' Dawgs finished last season 6-6 and made a run to the district championship game. Aurora was playing its best football at the end of the season and is looking to pick up where it left off.

According to Aurora coach Rick Scholten, his squad is young, but faster than last season.

"We preach to our kids about the need to be physical on both sides of the ball," Scholten said. "We know that Cassville is going to come in here ready to play. Coach Parnell does a great job in preparing his team."

Last season, Cassville blanked Aurora, 21-0. This season there are still question marks on the Wildcats team as they look to overcome the loss of several key senior players.

"We are counting on our seniors this year to step up and fill that void," Parnell said. "At our jamboree, we, at times, had five or six players on our No. 1 defense that had limited or no varsity experience. We are going to have to gel very quickly."

Keys for Aurora

* Control the line. Aurora wants to stun Cassville early and establish the line of scrimmage.

* Get to the second level. The linebacker core at Cassville is talented, but unproven. Aurora wants to force the young core to make plays

* Speed it up: Aurora is very quick in their skill positions. Look for Scholten to try to exploit matchup problems.

Keys for Cassville

* Play boring football. Coach Parnell said his team isn't flashy; they want to grind opponents down and impose their will. While it isn't always exciting to watch in the stands, it is effective when it comes to putting tallies in the win column.

* Hold that line. All victories begin with the men in the trenches. Cassville must control the line of scrimmage in order to win the contest.

* Limit big plays. The Wildcats are a disciplined team on both sides of the ball. They want to force the Houn' Dawgs to have to travel 75 to 80 yards every drive to try to score. It is hard to stay perfect for 10 to 12 plays, and Cassville has made a living feasting off other team's mishtakes.

Kickoff on Friday is set for 7 p.m.

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