By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Six unbeaten teams are ranked among the top 10 in Class 3 by the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. For third-ranked Cassville, a conference rival awaits a rematch.
Seneca travels to Cassville for their district semifinal matchup at 7 p.m. today. Monett plays at Reeds Spring in the other semifinal.
“We know we’re going to have to play well because Cassville is playoff-tested,” said Seneca head coach Dan Scheible.
And playing at Cassville, he said, “Just adds to the excitement.”
Seneca, 6-4, provided Cassville with its closest game of the season when the two teams met in a Big 8 Conference game Sept. 14 at Cassville.
Cassville won 18-14 on a long touchdown pass to Logan Scott from quarterback Gabe Kirk late in the fourth quarter. Seneca had tied the score 12-12 on a 60-yard touchdown run by quarterback Payton Rawlins, then took a 14-12 lead with a 2-point conversion pass from Rawlins to Chance Smith.
Scheible said Rawlins, who didn’t play in the second half of the Indians’ 25-7 victory last week against Mount Vernon, will be Seneca’s starting quarterback.
Rawlins, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior, has completed 104 of 182 passes for 1,805 yards and 26 touchdowns.
His leading receivers are Jalen Skaggs, a senior who has 36 receptions for 446 yards and seven TDs, and Braxton Graham, a junior running back who has 26 catches for 625 yards and nine TDs.
Graham, who has split time at tailback with senior Marty Mailes, has rushed for 1,268 yards and three touchdowns. He is averaging 9.5 yards per carry but missed the first game against Cassville because of an injury.
Cassville advanced to the district semifinals by defeating East Newton last week 48-6.
Brent Thompson, a 150-pound junior, led the Wildcats in rushing through eight games with 625 yards and seven touchdowns. Hayden Prater, a 180-pound junior, had scored nine touchdowns. Prater plays linebacker on defense.
Kirk, a 6-1, 180-pound sophomore, had passed for 457 yards and five touchdowns. His leading receiver was Garrett Kirk, a senior who had 13 receptions for 203 yards.
Scheible said the game likely will be decided in the battles between the offensive and defensive lines — and, of course, turnovers.
“Turnovers are the key at any level of football,” Scheible said. “I fully expect it to be a tough, hard-nosed Big 8 football game.”
Monett at Reeds Spring
Monett, 7-3, advanced to the district semifinals by defeating Aurora 37-20. The Cubs had won 21-0 at Aurora during the regular season.
Monett’s offense is directed by quarterback Kyle Woods, a 6-1, 175-pound junior who completed 42 of 87 passes for 813 yards and seven touchdowns through the Cubs’ first nine games.
Monett running back Aaron Hall, a 180-pound senior, topped the 1,000-yard mark this season. Kurran Blamey, a 190-pound senior, has about 500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving.
Reeds Spring, 7-3, was No. 2 in the final district rankings. The Wolves advanced to the district semifinals by defeating Hollister 36-16.
Reeds Spring lost to Class 4 opponents Marshfield (27-26) and Bolivar (37-16).