Cassville captures early momentum
42-0 thrashing of Aurora shows Wildcats’ versatility
Building momentum at the start of an athletics season can take time, but that was not the case for the Cassville football team this year.
The Wildcats were shot out of a cannon Friday, as they kicked off to Aurora, laid a big hit on the returner that popped the ball loose, then Brett Cooper plucked it out of the air and took it to the house — only 9 seconds in. Cassville went on to rout the Houn’ Dawgs, 42-0.
“There’s no way we could draw up a better first play,” said Lance Parnell, Cassville coach. “That was a huge momentum swing to force that turnover and score. It changed the whole flow of the game.”
Senior Bowen Preddy, who finished with two scores in the game, said the play changed the team, too.
“We just had so much energy, then boom,” he said.
That energy carried the Wildcats to five first-half scores and a mercy rule lead at the break.
After Cooper’s 23-yard return for a score, a 41-yard pass from quarterback Deven Bates to Killian Barbee set up Bowen for his first of the night, a 12-yard trot to paydirt. DJ White also found the end zone on a 19-yard reception, then a second catch for a 30-yard score.
After a long Aurora drive and punt that pinned the Wildcats at their own 10-yard line, Preddy found room out right and galloped 90 yards to put Cassville up 36-0. Bates provided the final score, stumbling through the line on a sneak play, then finding his feet and sprinting 63 yards to the end zone.
“We have several talented kids on offense, and I hope each will have big nights on different nights,” Parnell said. “There are many different ways we can go with the football, and those are nice options for [Offensive Coordinator Clay] Weldy to have.”
Preddy said the team has faith in Bates, who moved from corner last season and replaces four-year starter Shannon Haney in the position.
“Our quarterback can really throw the ball, and he knows how to run this offense,” Preddy said. “We are all behind him.”
Bates showed out in his first full contest under center. He was a perfect 4-for-4 through the air for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the ground, he attempted 3 runs and totaled 68 yards and 1 score.
Preddy led on the ground, racking up 128 yards on 8 carries and the 2 scores. White led with 2 catches for 49 yards and 2 scores.
Defensively, Cassville held Aurora to 80 net yards rushing and 55 yards passing. Kade Hayward led tacklers with 9 unassisted. Jerome Ewing and Hunter Chasteen each had 5 unassisted tackles. Andrew Prier posted 2 tackles for loss, totaling 21 yards. The game ended with Cutter Hicks pulling down an interception with just over a minute to play.
“We will not hold every team to three-and-outs all the time,” Parnell said. “Aurora put a couple drives together. They switched some things up on us and played hard. They are well-coached. We bent, but we did not break.”
Preddy said communication was why Cassville was able to keep Aurora’s goose egg on the board.
“Communication was key,” he said.” Sometimes, we didn’t have our defensive leaders in, and when we started communicating, everything started to click and we knew what to do.”
Cassville hopes to continue the momentum this week, as the Wildcats hit the road to face Springfield Catholic on Friday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.