Cat Scratch Fever

Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Jericho Farris snags an interception for the Wildcats during jamboree action on Friday. Shannon Haney/Special to the Cassville Democrat

Cassville kicks off season Friday with Aurora

A new season, a new team, but the same expectations remain for the Cassville gridders as the Wildcats prepare to open the regular season on Friday at home with Aurora.

“It does not matter how many kids they have on their sidelines,” said Lance Parnell, Cassville coach. “On the field, we’ll have 11, and they will have 11. Aurora historically has been a hard-nosed and hard-hitting team, and I don’t expect anything less than that on Friday.”

Kade Hayward displays a form tackle for the Wildcats during jamboree action in Republic Friday. Shannon Haney/Special to the Cassville Democrat

Cassville is fresh off a jamboree where the coaches were able to assess the team’s performance in live action and fast-paced scrimmages.

“Overall, I was impressed and encouraged,” Parnell said. “We competed with each team and played well. We did make a couple of full-speed mistakes, but we expected that, and those errors are totally correctable.”

The largest area of concern for the Wildcats heading into the jamboree, and even heading into Friday’s opener, was the offensive and defensive lines.

“I thought they played very well,” Parnell said. “The line play was high on our list of things we coaches wanted to evaluate, and I thought we were strong up front. Like everything this time of the year, we weren’t perfect, but what we saw we can build upon.”

The Wildcats now turn their attention to a Houn’ Dawg team that sent shockwaves through the conference when they announced that they had only 24 players on roster and would not field a junior varsity nor freshman squad this season.

Coach Craig Weldy said that his team, even though they may be small in numbers, contains players that are truly dedicated to the program, and they know they have to hold up under pressure.

The Houn’ Dawgs return just five starters, but one of those is Jay Lee, one of the best quarterbacks in the conference.

“He’s a senior leader and makes good decisions with the ball,” Parnell said. “We have to account for him every snap.”

Keys for Cassville

• Up front

The Wildcats will only go as far as their line takes them this season. If Cassville wins up front, the team likely will have a positive game outcome.

• Ball security

Cassville did have a few turnover and penalty issues last season in Week One. Generally, season openers are ugly as teams get their rhythm. The team that hangs onto the ball has the greatest chance to win.

• Grind it out

This will be one game that Cassville has a decided advantage in numbers. Fatigue will loom large in the second half for both teams. Look for Cassville to rotate in fresh bodies to try to wear down Aurora and take control of the game.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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