Wildcats playing for seeding in district tournament
Home playoff game on the line for Cassville
It is amazing how winning can change the entire atmosphere of a program.
For three weeks, Lance Parnell and his staff have pieced together lineups, coached kids up and tried to keep a team focused through three blowout losses.
Through the first half of Friday's 35-20 win, the Wildcats were in danger of losing a fourth game that would have been crushing for the team and would have signaled a resignation to the season.
However, these Wildcats are tough, and they assembled a outstanding second half that dominated, befuddled and deflated the visitors, giing Wildcat nation a happy Homecoming.
"We played a really good half of football," Parnell said. "We made some strides forward. We aren't perfect, but are improving."
The win over the Mountaineers came at a crucial time for the Wildcats. With two games remaining, Cassville is ranked No. 4 in the district standings with Seneca nipping at its heels as the No. 5 seed. Aurora is in the No. 3 slot, and less than 7 points separate the three schools.
A win over East Newton, coupled with an Aurora loss to Lamar on Friday, would ensure a top-four seed and one guaranteed district playoff game at home for Cassville.
If the Wildcats win their final two games and Aurora splits its final two, the Wildcats would jump to the third seed.
"We definitely have a lot to play for," Parnell said. "We won't be taking anyone for granted. We want to be playing our best football at the end of the season."
Parnell is under no illusions about his team and its growth. He said it will take more than one solid half of football to convince him that his team has fully matured.
"We still had mistakes, especially in the first half, that caused us problems," Parnell said. "I don't care who you play, if you turn the ball over and keep give them chances, you'll get burned."
On paper, this week's contest at East Newton looks like an easy win, but Parnell has cautioned his players.
"East Newton plays hard for four quarters no matter the score," Parnell said. "Coach [Seth] Johnson does a great job of getting his team ready every week and they will battle us."
The Wildcats have turned into a team that has counted on talent that has flown under the radar.
Parnell pointed to River Phelps and Leigh Cox as prime examples of players that have been thrust into positions that are now pivotal for the team's success.
"It's not just those guys, but they come to the top of my mind," Parnell said. "Every week it seems like we ask more of them and they keep responding."
The Wildcats hope to find more playmakers this week. Parnell also included Andrew Shepard, Zane Everett, Will Edmondson, Gilbert Medina and Kane Kellner on his list of players that are getting better each week.
Keys for Cassville
* Stop East Newton early: The Wildcats need to take control of the game early on and not allowed the Patriots to get any momentum.
* Three-headed attack: Cassville found some success with Cox, Phelps and Gabe Kirk running the ball. They need to develop that further this Friday.
* Turnovers: Get them, don't give them.