SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — For just over a quarter of football Friday night, the Cassville Wildcats appeared to be squaring off for a good, old fashion slugfest at Springfield Catholic High School.

That slugfest quickly turned into a TKO as the Wildcats ran away for a 49-21 victory.

“We didn’t play clean in the first quarter, but saw the growth in our team from handling that adversity,” Cassville coach Lance Parnell said. “We made some mistakes and shot ourselves in the foot. We battled back. We didn’t drop our heads and kept plugging and played good football from the second quarter on.”

Those mistakes that Parnell referenced came in the form of fumbles on back-to-back possession that led to Catholic (1-1) touchdowns and a 14-7 Irish lead early in the second quarter.

But the lead was short-lived as Cassville (2-0) marched 71 yards in just over three minutes. Quarterback Deven Bates rolled to his left and found a wide open DJ White in the flat, and White scampered to the end zone for a 21-yard score to tie the game.

A failed fake punt on Catholic’s next possession gave the Wildcats the ball on the Irish 25-yard line. Four plays later, Bowen Preddy scored from 17 yards out to put Cassville in front for good. Bates found White for a nine-yard score with five seconds left in the first half, and the Wildcats were in control 28-14 at halftime.

“I knew from the beginning that this is a special team,” Preddy said. “We play fast and hard.”

That fast and hard mentality continued in the second half as Cassville took advantage of a pair of interceptions and scored on its first three possession of the third quarter to put the game away.

Preddy led a rushing attack that chewed up yards in bunches all night to the tune of 301 yards. He and fellow backfield mate Zach Coenen were running through huge holes and bouncing off of would-be tacklers all night. Preddy finished with 123 yards and three scores, while Coenen added 109 and a touchdown.

“They are good players,” Parnell said of his rushing duo. “They run hard, they block for each other. They compete every snap. I am real happy they are on our team”

Cassville returns home for a matchup with Monett next Friday while Catholic will host Hollister.

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