By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Big 8 Conference champion Cassville will face a familiar rival when the Wildcats host Monett at 7 p.m. today in a Class 3 district championship game.
Cassville (11-0) is ranked No. 3 by the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, while Monett (8-3) is on a four-game winning streak that includes scoring at least 32 points during that span.
“That makes it special,” said Monett head coach Chad Depee of the Cubs’ opponent for the district title. “We have the utmost respect for their coaching staff. It’s an honor and a privilege just to get to this point.
“You talk about a playoff atmosphere, when it’s a 7 o’clock game on Monday night, that’s an opportunity where a lot of people will be there,” he said. “That doesn’t happen very often. That’s what makes it special.”
Monett’s versatile offense is guided by quarterback Kyle Woods, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior. Running back Aaron Hall, a 180-pound senior, eclipsed the 1,000-mark in rushing during the regular season, and senior Kurran Blamey had nearly 1,000 total yards of rushing and receiving.
“We’re very fortunate to have some offensive weapons,” Depee said. “In all honesty, we really focus and rely on our defense.
“Against a great Cassville team that is so well-coached and disciplined, we have to be good on both sides. One side of the ball is never enough when it comes to playoff time.”
Monett advanced to the title game with a 35-6 victory Wednesday at Reeds Spring, while Cassville defeated Seneca 48-13.
Cassville’s balanced offense is led by sophomore quarterback Gabe Kirk, who rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another against Seneca.
The Wildcats’ ground attack includes junior running backs Brent Thompson and Hayden Prater.
“It’s like I told our kids at practice, it’s a great privilege to play in it,” said Cassville head coach David Large. “Not everybody gets to play a Monday night football game.
“We know them very well and they know us very well,” he said. “You enjoy it as coaches when you get an opponent where the game could go either way.”
The last time Monett defeated Cassville, a new format for the state high school football playoffs gave the Wildcats a second chance.
The year was 2008, and in a showdown at unbeaten Monett, the Cubs prevailed 13-7, which forced Cassville into a must-win situation with their next game, the second of three district games. Cassville, playing at home, defeated Seneca 14-13.
Three games later, in a return trip to Monett, Cassville won 28-14 and went on to win its first of back-to-back state championships.