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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Familiar foes to battle for district crown

Monday, November 5, 2012

The key to victory. The Monett Cubs defense made things tough on Reeds Spring in the Class 3, District 4 semi-final on Oct. 31. The Cubs earned a 35-6 victory over the Wolves to advance to the district title game against Cassville tonight. If Monett is to win, these 11 Cubs must continue their outstanding play. [Times Photo by Melissa Leech]
It is fitting that Monett (8-3) and Cassville (11-0), two long-time rivals from the Big 8 Conference, should battle for the Class 3, District 4 football crown tonight.

Each team's coach has used the same generic lines of "We know that it is going to be a battle," and "We know we will get the other team's best shot" when describing the gridiron tilt.

This game is huge not only for the schools involved but for community pride.

Breaking free. Monett speedster Kurran Blamey earns tough yards against Reeds Spring in the district semi-final. [Times Photo by Melissa Leech]
Monett has a chance to achieve revenge from a 2008 playoff loss to the black and gold that still causes many Cubs' fans to shake their heads in disbelief when discussing the fateful game.

There is more than circumstantial evidence to support a karma theory with this evening's matchup.

In 2008, a top-ranked Monett team defeated an up-and-coming Cassville squad to win a Big 8 title, only to lose to those same Wildcats in a home playoff game, then painfully watch that southern Barry County foe celebrate a state title two games later. Monett fans still say, "That could have been us."

However, this year, the tables have turned. It is the Cubs who are the up-and-comers traveling to face a top-ranked Wildcats team.

Could the upset occur? Yes. Will the upset occur? Don't ask the coaches.

Neither coach is overly excited about the prospect of having to face or defeat a conference opponent twice in a season to advance.

Of Cassville's 11 games this year, the Wildcats have already played East Newton and Seneca twice. The Cubs will be the third conference opponent that the Wildcats will have to beat twice in order to reach the quarterfinals.

If there is an emotional motivational edge, it has to be on the side of the Cubs.

Monett's players will be motivated by the fact that they played well enough to beat the Wildcats, but left some easy points on the field earlier this season.

Is Cassville the clear favorite tonight? Yes, but the pressure is all on the Wildcats.

Monett has nothing to lose in tonight's gridiron battle.

Each team wants to ground and pound with the ball.

The Wildcats are averaging 250.2 yards rushing and 79.1 yards passing per contest. The Cubs run for 228 yards and threw for 87 yards on average per contest.

Cassville keys to the game

* Control the line. The Wildcats opened nice running lanes for their running backs in the first meeting with Monett.

* Apply pressure. Cassville wants to take away the Cubs' running game and make Monett a one-dimensional offense.

* Spread the ball around. Cassville is most effective on offense when they get three or more running backs 50 yards or more rushing.

Monett keys to the game.

* No mental mistakes. Turnovers and penalties have cost the Cubs in key situations all year. A mistake free game is the only way the Cubs can win.

* Play under control. It is all right to play with emotion, but not let the emotion play the player. Monett must be fundamentally solid in all phases of the game.

* Start strong. The Cubs spotted the Wildcats 14 points in the regular season tilt. The Cubs do not want to work all night in a two-score deficit.

Area games of intrest

Lamar hosts Butler in the Class 2, District 4 Championship. The Tigers have outscored their opponents 69.5-14 in their district games. They also defeated Butler 63-12 in week 5 of the regular season.

Miller hosts Lockwood for the Class 1, District 2 title. The Cardinals have outscored their opponents 40-8 this season. However, Miller only defeated Lockwood 42-36 in week 5.

Kickoff for all the contests is set for 7 p.m.

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