Wildcats ready to prowl
Cassville hits football trail Aug. 30
A senior-dominated team helped raise the level of Cassville football last year, as the team went 11-1, falling in the district championship to Mt. Vernon.
The Wildcats earned the title of Big 8 West champions, and with a field goal as time expired, ended Lamar’s and the nation’s longest winning streak.
The team did not reach its ultimate goals, but it did take steps forward toward that end.
“We had a great group of young men that enjoyed football and made coming to work every day a pleasure,” said Lance Parnell, Cassville coach. “The success we had in 2018 I believe was a result of their great attitude that they approached football with.”
While Cassville lost several irreplaceable players, the talent cupboard is far from bare, as returners include: Bowen Preddy, D.J. White, Deven Bates, Troy Hagins, Kade Hayward, Jacob Olbertz, Nate Boley, Anthony Gimlin, Jacob Hall, Tim Mason, Zach Marlow and Sam Cochran, seniors; and Killian Barbee, Zach Carney, Hunter Chasteen, Zack Coenen, Jaiden Reiert, Drake Reese and Jericho Farris, juniors.
Preddy, White and Reese were all First Team Big 8 Conference selections. White and Reese earned All-State accolades.
“We will look to our 16 returning seniors for leadership,” Parnell said. “They will have big shoes to fill from the graduation seniors from last season. They have had a great off-season and summer. They have worked hard in the weight room and set a great attitude heading into the 2019 season.”
The biggest question for Cassville initially will begin at the quarterback position. Last year, the Wildcats averaged 40 points per game and rushed for 266 yards and threw for another 126 yards on average per contest.
“We will be replacing a four-year starter at quarterback,” Parnell said. “We have two young men that will battle for the job in senior Deven Bates and junior Killian Barbee. Both have been successful junior varsity quarterbacks as sophomores. Deven was a starting corner for us in 2018 as a junior.”
Cassville is a bit more stable at its skill positions.
“We return the bulk of our skill players on offense in running backs Bowen Preddy and Zach Coenen, along with wide receiver D.J. White,” Parnell said. “We also return two starting offensive linemen and several other lineman that got valuable snaps in 2018.”
Preddy rushed for 616 yards on 103 attempts. He caught 11 passes for 426 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns.
White hauled in 43 passes for 849 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Coenen found varsity carries as well last year to the tune of 51 touches for 463 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Cassville coaches have focused on one key factor from last year – turnovers.
“We need to do a better job of taking care of the football,” Parnell said. “Turnovers killed us at key times a year ago. We also need to do a better job defensively creating turnovers and getting off the field on third down.”
The Wildcats return just four full time starters and a total of six players with varsity experience on defense this season.
Last year, the squad allowed just 13.5 points, 68 yards passing and 156 yards passing per game.
Andrew Prier is the lone returning starter on the defensive line, and Coenen as the single returning linebacker.
“We enter every season expecting to be a disciplined, fundamentally sound, physical football team that competes for a conference and district championship,” Parnell said. “We have a difficult Big 8 West Conference schedule. You have to be ready to play week in and week out in our conference.”
The Wildcats open the 2019 season at home against Aurora on Aug. 30.