Wildcats face toughest test

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Cassville's Bowen Preddy and Monett's Jamie Guinn are ready for Friday's Barry County Brawl. Chuck Nickle/Special to the Cassville Democrat

Cassville wary of improved Cubs

A quick start fueled by a pair turnovers left the No. 7 ranked Wildcats football team looking in the face of a 14-7 hole on Friday.

Instead of folding, Cassville (2-0) responded with a 42-point surge to send Springfield Catholic packing and served notice to the Big 8 that the ‘Cats are for real.

“I liked our composure and how we were able to refocus,” said Lance Parnell, Cassville coach. “I felt from the second quarter on, we were a strong and solid team. Catholic had three or four big plays, and outside of that, we did a great job. I like how our kids showed that mental toughness to fight back.”

The most encouraging part about Friday night’s performance is that the Wildcat coaching staff knows the team can be better.

“In each of our first two games, we have played hard,” Parnell said. “We are still making some small mistakes and showing our inexperience. The thing I like is we are making those mistakes at full speed, which means they can be corrected. These kids take coaching well, and I have no doubt we are going to get better as the season rolls along.”

On Friday, the Wildcats welcome a familiar foe and rival in Monett (1-1) for the seventh installment of the Barry County Brawl.

This year, the game takes on a near playoff feel, despite just being the third game of the season.

The winner will secure the inside track to the No. 1 district seed and will also have a leg up in the conference title race.

Monett fell to Mt. Vernon, 22-21, in Week 1 and bounced back for a victory over Marshfield, 49-20.

Parnell and the Wildcats watched the tape from those games and quickly came to the conclusion that the Cubs are vastly improved from last year.

“I’m telling you, Monett should be 2-0 right now,” Parnell said. “You watch the film, and you can see how physical the Cubs are on the line, the talent and depth they have at the skill positions and that they are a tough team.”

Cassville’s biggest concern is the line play of Monett.

“They are big, physical and aggressive,” Parnell said. “They will be a huge test for us. We have to be able to create gaps to run through.”

The Wildcats are under no illusions when it comes to this game. Only a four-quarter effort will be good enough to secure victory.

“You look at the history of the Brawl rivalry, and maybe only one of the last six or seven games was a blowout,” Parnell said. “It doesn’t matter what the records are or who is favored to win, these games are always a fight.”

Parnell said if he could take one thing away from the Cubs on Friday it would be their play calling.

“I can tell you I would take away Coach [Derrek] Uhl’s ability to make the right play call at the right time that can cause me the most grief,” Parnell said. “The Cubs can come at you from so many different angles and formations.”

Keys for Cassville

• In the trenches

This game will be won by the team that controls the line of scrimmage. Cassville has a speed advantage at the skill positions, but that means little if the line cannot sustain blocks.

• Two hands, please

Cassville was able to recover from a pair of early turnovers against Catholic. The Wildcats and their coaches do not want to see if they can repeat that performance. Ball security was a point of emphasis this week in practice.

• Win old mo

Football is a game of momentum swings. Look for the Wildcats to throw a wrinkle or two into the game plan to keep the Cubs on their toes and to ignite the friendly confines of Wildcat Stadium.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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