The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

September 21, 2012

Carl Junction, Cassville clash for Big 8 lead

Jesse Wall, proud of his team’s effort in a 45-22 victory over previously undefeated Aurora, was also quick to add a cautionary note:

“It’s just one game,” the Carl Junction football coach reminded.

The Bulldogs improved to 2-2 overall and 2-0 in the Big 8 Conference. The only other remaining unbeaten Big 8 team is defending champion Cassville and the Wildcats are up next for Carl Junction.

The game kicks off at 7 tonight at Cassville, 4-0 and 2-0.

“Whether you have a program that is going to be consistently good is determined over a period of time and not in one game,” Wall said. “We have six more regular-season games we have to play and that is going to be what determines how good we are as a team.

“We have to come out and take came of our jobs and perform this week and each of the following weeks,” he added.

But, that said, Wall admitted the Bulldogs played extremely well.

“Our coaches have thought all along that we have a chance to be very good this year,” Wall said. “It (win) didn’t surprise us. And Aurora is a very good team.”

So, he added, is Cassville. The Wildcats, built around a veteran defense, have allowed just 21 points in four games. Two of those touchdowns came last week, when Cassville had to score late to overcome Seneca 18-14.

“Our defense has done a great job all year,” Cassville coach David Large said. “We’ve really had a lot of success until the second half last week. ... Offensively, we’re still figuring some things out up front.”

Senior Chris Dunker and junior Brent Thompson have identical rushing totals (327 yards) this season. Dunker is the lone veteran in the Cassville backfield.

Sophomore quarterback Gabe Kirk has completed over 60 percent of his passes and has been efficient in protecting the ball, Large said.

The Cassville coach, in the preseason, pointed to Carl Junction.

“Our kids know about them. We compete against them in track and we know about the speed they have,” Large said. “With that impressive of a win over Aurora, that probably caught the eye of everyone in the Big 8.

“It will be a good game,” Large said. “They’re as good as any team we’ve seen in the conference in the last two or three years.”

Wall knows what to expect from Cassville ... more of what the Big 8 has seen in recent seasons. The Wildcats won back-to-back state titles in 2008-09, then reached the semifinals and quarterfinals of the Class 3 playoffs the past two seasons.

“Cassville is a good team,” Wall said. “They’re very well-coached, they play extremely hard. They want to be able to control the ball.

“We have to create three-and-out situations for their offense, not allow them to control the clock. If we can do this, it gives us more opportunities to score.

“What it’s going to come down to is if we can move the ball on sustained drives.”

Junior quarterback Dustin Satterlee has keyed the balanced Carl Junction offense, completing 71 percent of his (almost 80 total) passes.

“He has taken what the defense has given us and that is allowing the ball to be spread around more,” Wall said. “It makes it difficult for the defense to cover them all (Bulldog backs and receivers).”

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