Wildcats deny Cubs in Barry County brawl, 21-14
September 18, 2019
After building a seemingly insurmountable 21-0 lead late in the third quarter at Wildcat Stadium, the Cassville Wildcats had to withstand a furious Monett comeback to earn a 21-14 victory in the Barry County Brawl on Friday night. For the second week in a row, the Wildcats survived a serious challenge from a powerhouse team.
Rivalry games just don’t get any more hype than the annual clash between the Wildcats and the Cubs. Just because the games played prior to 2013 weren’t branded doesn’t mean they didn’t qualify as brawls. But more often than not, these games have been one sided. Cassville had a 7-3 record versus Monett in the previous ten matchups. Only one of those games, a 21-20 Monett victory in 2016, was decided by less than ten points.
If history is any guide, there is a premium on scoring first in this series. But this was a defensive struggle in the early going.
Monett won the toss and elected to receive. While that goes against the grain of conventional wisdom, it is a staple in Monett's playbook. With a big offensive line and a talented set of backs and receivers, the Monett coaching staff trust their offense to go score and put pressure on the other team.
But Cassville’s defense forced a three-and-out on Monett’s first two possessions. Likewise, the Cubs forced the ‘Cats to punt on their first two drives, the first punts of the season for Bowen Preddy.
Then Monett mounted a 13-play drive, reaching the Cassville 13-yard line on the second play of the second quarter. But on 2nd-and-3, a missed handoff from Carter Brink to Brandon Majors resulted in a critical fumble recovery by Cassville’s Jaiden Reibert.
The Wildcat offense came alive, marching 86 yards in just 10 plays, as Deven Bates dumped a desperation pass to Zach Coenen for the game’s first score with 6:54 left in the half. Drake Reese boomed the PAT for a 7-0 Cassville lead.
But Monett roared back down the field, thanks to a 42-yard bomb from Brink to Dylan Lynch. The Cassville defense stiffened on fourth down, swarming Brink for no gain at the 27-yard line.
The Wildcats mustered another long drive, coming up with big plays on crucial downs.
White gained 27 yards to the Monett 47-yard line on a third down catch to keep the drive alive.
A pass interference call against the Cubs on fourth down gave the Wildcats the ball in the red zone.
Preddy crashed into the end zone from a yard out to give Cassville a 13-0 lead with just four seconds left in the half.
That two touchdown lead was a misleading summary of the first half. With an obvious size advantage, the Cubs had established a strong running game. Those two big defensive stops when Monett was threatening to score provided the difference at intermission.
The Wildcats received the third quarter kickoff and marched down to the Monett 5-yard line in 11 plays. Clay Weldy’s coaching kept the drive alive when Cassville converted a third down play that saw Preddy take a hitch and pitch for 26 yards out to the 43-yard line.
But on 4th-and-2 at the Monett 5-yard line, Bates was swallowed by the defense on an off tackle keep, and the Cubs took over on downs.
Three plays later, a shanked punt gave Cassville the ball back at the Monett 28-yard line. This time the Wildcats scored in just three plays, with Preddy racing in from the 8-yard line with an option pitch. Preddy scored again out of a swinging gate formation on the two-point conversion to establish a 21-0 lead at the 4:15 mark of the third quarter.
From that point on, it was all Monett. As the game wore on, Monett’s size advantage wore down the smaller Cassville line. The rejuvenated Cubs roared down the field with a mixed ground and air attack, and Jamie Guinn finished the 72-yard drive with a short reverse to cut the lead to 21-7 as the third quarter clock ran down.
After a Cassville punt, Monett drove the field again. Brink found Lynch with a 43-yard bomb to set up first and goal. Then Brink scored on a quarterback sneak as the Cubs cut the lead to 21-14 with 6:59 left to play.
As the Wildcats began the ensuing drive at their own 22-yard line, the Cubs needed one more stop. Cassville didn’t have to score, but needed first downs to run the clock down in a desperate game of keepaway. Lance Parnell’s team moved the chains three times, advancing to the Monett 35-yard line with 2:01 showing on the clock.
The Cubs called their last two timeouts in quick succession to preserve the clock as the Wildcats faced 3rd-and-4 at the Monett 29-yard line. YThen an errant Cassville pitch put the ball on the grass, and the Cubs recovered.
After Brink found Ethan Umfleet for 15 yards, the Cubs spiked the ball. But then Monett faced fourth down after Brink threw back-to-back incompletions. Umfleet broke free across the middle on a long crossing route and Brink delivered a 21-yard strike to keep the drive alive.
A pass interference call moved the ball to the Cassville 17-yard line on the next play. Monett had 24 seconds but no timeouts to get the ball in the endzone. With Cassville dialing up the blitz packages, Brink threw four consecutive incompletions as the clock ran out.
Cassville improved to 3-0 with the victory in one of the most physical games the Wildcats have played since that epic playoff battle at Logan-Rogersville back in 2009. Cassville will keep the Barry County Brawl trophy for another year.
Cassville’s balanced attack racked up 347 total yards against Monett. Zach Coenen rushed 20 times for 100 yards to lead the Wildcats on the ground. As a team, Cassville rushed for 197 yards.
Deven Bates completed 9 of his 15 throws for 150 yards with no interceptions. DJ White caught 7 passes for 111 yards.
Meanwhile, Monett slipped to 1-2. Will this prove to have been a crisis game for the Cubs? Monett is back in Class 3 this year, and those losses to Mt. Vernon and Cassville affect not only conference rankings but Class 3 District 6 seeding as well.
The Cubs date with Lamar next Friday is now a must-win affair.
Cassville will travel to Seneca on Friday to play the 2-1 Indians. Kickoff is set for 7 PM.t
Big 8 West scores
Cassville 21, Monett 14
Lamar 48, Aurora 21
Seneca 39, Nevada 18
McDonald County 24, East Newton 22
Big 8 East scores
Mt. Vernon 18, Marshfield 13
Springfield Catholic 21, Hollister 20
Reeds Spring 19, Rogersville 7