Athletic secondary lines up for Wildcats

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Cassville coach excited about returners on defense

Of all the 22 positions on offense and defense for a football team, only one will be a bonafide returning starter for Cassville this season, and he can be found in the Wildcats’ secondary.

Lance Parnell, Cassville coach, said the linebackers, corners and safeties are a group he is extra excited for this season, as the one returning starter, Hernan Hernandez, will be surrounded by a handful of players with some spot snaps last year.

“I am really excited about this group, and it’s probably the group coming back with the most experience,” Parnell said. “Hernan started 75-80 percent of games at safety and will be a junior. Cutter Hicks, who is our quarterback, had three or four starts in the secondary last year and played at least some in almost every game at safety or corner. Right now, we have him as a starting safety this year.”

Jake Anthonysz also had a few starts in 2020 at corner, and he would have had more if not for a mid-season COVID-19 quarantine.

“Jake started against Maryville in the state semifinal for us, so he has experience,” Parnell said. “Those three kids played a ton of snaps, even though they can’t all be tagged as returning starters.”

In the box, Parnell said Keaton Shellenberger will return some experience to the linebacking core.

“Keaton had three starts early last year when Zach [Coenen] was out,” Parnell said. “He also played in virtually every game except for when he had to quarantine. Ethan Fuchs is a senior that saw a lot of time at outside linebacker.”

Parnell said that group of five will be tasked to lead the Wildcats on the field.

“I think our leadership will come from a combination of Hernan, Cutter and Jake, as well as Ethan being a senior and doing a good job stepping into that vocal leadership role this summer, and Keaton just being a junior but having some valuable experience last year,” Parnell said.

Beyond those five, Parnell said a handful of other players will look to impact the depth chart.

“In the secondary, we will look to Garrett Ewing, who is a sophomore, to contribute at corner, and Jadon Ewing, who will be a junior, to fill in at safety,” Parnell said. Trey Wilson is linebacker we’ve moved to corner, and Ethan Fare should help us out, too.

“Our newbies are Bryson Jacobson, a sophomore, who can step in and contribute, and Isaac Hadlow has improved a lot this summer and should get some snaps defensively. They are some young kids that can give us depth and compete for jobs.”

Missing from the team this year compared to the past will be some size, as only Shellenberger and Hadlow top 6 feet. However, Hernandez picked off a pair of passes last season and made 21 tackles, and Fuchs and Jacobson each tallied a sack and 37 combined tackles. Shellenberger leads all returners with 35 tackles.

“Our greatest strength will be our athleticism,” Parnell said. “They move really well and are coachable, and they are really tough kids. But, we still have some inexperience. Many got snaps last year, but they were role players. So, getting that starting time on Friday nights and adjusting to the speed of the game will be key for us.”

Editor’s note: This story is part of a weekly series looking at each position group within the Cassville football team.

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