It’s another week and another game for the Cassville football team against a reigning state champion.
But this week the stakes are higher.
The Wildcats (11-2) play host to defending state champ Trinity Catholic (9-3) from St. Louis today in a Class 3 semifinal game. Kickoff is at 1 at Wildcat Stadium.
Last week on the road in the quarterfinal round, Cassville knocked off 2018 Class 2 champion Blair Oaks 35-28, ending the Falcons’ 27-game winning streak.
“We’re just happy to continue to be playing,” Wildcats coach Lance Parnell said. “We knew it was going to be a tough row to hoe. Blair Oaks was a great football team, and our kids went up and played really, really well and got the victory. We’re going to see another very talented football team this Saturday in Trinity Catholic.”
In addition, it’s the second straight week the Cassville defense will face a freshman quarterback. Trinity’s Chris Cotton has completed 90-of-148 passes for 1,303 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. Wide receiver James Frenchie has 30 catches for 418 yards and five touchdowns.
Thomas Mimes leads the ground game with 72 carries for 613 yards and nine scores. Jalene Riggins paces the defense with 87 tackles.
Trinity, which lost its first two games, including a 26-0 shutout against Illinois 6A state finalist East St. Louis. has outscored its opponents 426-164 this season. It won its quarterfinal game 26-0 over a St. Charles Lutheran team that averaged 43 points per game.
“They are very athletic,” Parnell said. “Everywhere you look, they have an athlete. They are spread offensively. They have several really good running backs who are going to run downhill at you. And they can get the ball in space to some of their receivers as well.
“There’s a lot of similarity to Blair Oaks (offensively). Trinity Catholic is bigger up front than Blair Oaks was. They have some good size and good-looking offensive linemen. Trinity is probably more downhill running with their backs where Blair Oaks was more of a jet sweep-type team.
“We’re going to have to tackle very good in space,” Parnell said. “Like last week against Blair Oaks, we can’t rely on one-on-one tackles. We have to do a good job of getting several hats to the ball to make those plays.”
Cassville owns a 428-171 scoring advantage over its foes and averages 332 yards on offense — 215 rushing and 117 passing.
The Wildcats’ 1-2 running punch consists of Bowen Preddy (137 rushes for 977 yards, 14 TDs) and Zach Coenen (127 for 813, 9 TDs). In addition, Deven Bates and Jericho Farris have gained 407 and 384 yards, respectively, and combined for 14 TDs.
Bates has completed 68-of-115 passes for 1,432 yards, 18 TDs and only one interception.
Receiver DJ White has 43 catches for 801 yards and 10 scores.
Kicker Drake Reece is another weapon, converting 44-of-46 extra points and 6-of-7 field goals (including a 48-yarder against Seneca in the district championship game). He’s also averaged 37.3 yards on 21 punts.
Coenen leads the defense with 75 tackles, three more than Jacob Olbertz and Andrew Prier. Farris has made 66 tackles, and Kade Hayward, Carson Jacobson and Jaden Reibert all have at least 50 stops.
The Wildcats have reached the semifinals for the first time since 2010 when they lost to Richmond 23-21 in a matchup of 13-0 teams.
“Kids have had a great week of practice and prep,” Parnell said.
“They’re excited to get to play in the semis, and to have the opportunity to be back home again is a big deal for us.”