Wildcats keep singing John Denver classic

Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Zack Coenen escapes a Clinton player’s grasp during the Wildcats’ win on Friday. Chuck Nickle/Special to the Cassville Democrat

Cassville football team celebrates wins with ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’

“Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong. West Virginia, mountain mama, Take me home, country roads.”

To many, these lyrics are just part of a classic John Denver song, but to Cassville football players, they mean a bit more.

After every win, which is all 10 games this season for the Wildcats, players cram into the locker room and belt out the song in victory.

“We sing it every time we win, and I’m not really sure how it started,” said Bowen Preddy, who contributed two scores and an interception in Friday’s 49-6 win over Clinton. “Someone just started screaming it early this season and it caught on. Singing started last year with those seniors as kind of a funny thing, but it was a different song last year.”

Lance Parnell, Cassville head coach, said the team may have heard it on his playlist over the summer while the team worked in the weight room.

“I play a lot of old country music in the weight room, so maybe that’s where they got it, but I’m not totally sure,” he said.

Preddy confirmed Parnell’s playlist, but could not confirm if that is where the song came from.

“We just see it as small-town country, and that’s what we are,” Preddy said.

The Wildcats may be small town, but they have played some big games this season. Following a heart-stopping win over Lamar in Week 9, Cassville turned Friday to its second season, starting off district play with Clinton.

The Wildcats kicked off in the game, and Clinton converted a fourth-and-short near its own 45-yard line before punting on the next series. This was the only first down and closest to the end zone the Cardinals got until the fourth quarter.

Cassville then executed a drive to the 2-yard line, where Preddy took the ball and punched in the first score.

The Wildcats’ defense then began its domination. Preddy picked off an errant Clinton pass, setting the offense up at its own 32. After another methodical drive, he found the end zone for the second time on a 3-yard run.

“My play would be nothing without the line in front of me,” Preddy said. “I did get my first interception of the year, and I was pretty excited about that. We worked last week on getting pressure on

the quarterback, and on our blitzes and man coverage.”

Following another Clinton punt and Wildcat drive, Anthony Tolbert found paydirt on a 10-yard run, stumbling a few yards short but gaining his feet and diving to put the ball past the goal line.

Midway through the second quarter, a back shoulder catch by DJ White set the Wildcats up in the red zone, and Cassville capitalized with a 5-yard touchdown run from Zack Coenen.

To round out the opening half, White showed his athleticism again with a one-handed grab in the back of the end zone, a 21-yard reception on a third-and-10.

The score gave the Wildcats a turbo clock, 35-0 lead at intermission.

At the start of the second half, Clinton’s kick went out of bounds. Parnell declined the penalty and had the Cardinals retake the kick. A short kickoff gave Ethan Hoppes running room, as he broke down the right sideline and followed blockers 72 yards to put Cassville up 42-0.

The final Wildcat points came from the defense, when Jose Melchor read a play to pick off a pass and trot 14 yards to the land of 6.

“That was a great job by Jose to drop in and read the quarterback’s eyes,” Parnell said. “He was where he was supposed to be, at the right place and right time.”

Clinton scored on a 40-yard touchdown pass with 6:23 to play, then recovered an onside kick. However, the Cardinals turned the ball over on downs and Cassville knelt out the clock.

Parnell said the key to Friday’s win was, once again, physicality.

“We played physical up front,” he said. “ We knew Clinton wanted to run, and we controlled the line of scrimmage.”

Offensively, Cassville outgained Clinton, 261-54. The bulk of the rushing yards were pretty well split between five Wildcats: Coenen, 45 yards; Jericho Farris, 32 yards; Tolbert, 32 yards; Preddy, 29 yards; and Haney, 26 yards.

Haney was 5-for-6 passing for 88 yards, with all five receptions by DJ White.

Defensively, the Wildcats held Clinton to -5 net yards on the ground and only 59 yards through the air.

Logan Carlin led in tackling with 5 unassisted and 1 assisted. Evan Kessinger had 5 unassisted tackles, and Melchor had 3 unassisted tackles and 4 assisted.

Cassville remains at home on Friday, hosting Seneca in the district semifinals. When the two teams met in Cassville on Sept. 14, a 48-point opening half and more than 600 yards of offense gave the Wildcats a 62-27 win. Kickoff Friday is at 7 p.m.

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