Make that 88 victories in a row for the Webb City Cardinals.

Make that 88 victories in a row for the Webb City Cardinals.

With a balanced attack that saw six players contribute touchdowns on Friday, the Cardinals blanked Neosho, 55-0, in Central Ozark Conference Large Division action.

You name it: Offense, defense, and special teams — the Cardinals are as good as they're billing suggests with the No. 1 ranking in Class 4.

It didn't take long for the Cardinals (7-0) to flex their muscle as they scored on their first offensive play of the game. After Phoenix Johnson's punt return set Webb City up at the Neosho 12-yard line, Cooper Smith broke three tackles to punch it in and make it 7-0.

Smith would score again, a one yard run this time, on the second drive to make it 14-0.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, couldn't solve a stingy Cardinals defense that frequently featured multiple pre-snap shifts along the line throughout the game. They held Neosho's leading rusher, Chris Goodwin, to 35 yards on eight carries. Justin McKee finished with 34 yards on 19 tries.

"Well you saw possibly the best team in the state of Missouri," Wildcats coach Jared Schoonover said. "Webb City is, you know, they're a machine. That's an incredible streak, and it tells you what kind of football team they are.

"In order for us to compete with a team like that, we've got to do all of the little things right from tackling to blocking assignments … and we missed on a lot of those opportunities tonight."

The Cardinals scored on their first six possessions. They led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter and took a 48-0 lead into the half after reserve tailback Kyle Baldasarre raced across the goal line from 50 yards out as time expired in the half. Baldasarre's score was set up by a nifty defensive play in which Cardinals linebacker Kyler Crane picked off an option pitch with seven seconds left in the half and went down at the 50.

It was just one of those nights for the Cardinals. Phoenix Johnson rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns on seven carries.

Smith only had 33 yards on the ground, but scored twice. Reserve Tyler Davison had 62 yards and a touchdown.

The Cardinals also had success throwing the ball. Quarterback John Roderique completed all four of his passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. Wideout Kohl Slaughter hauled in three of those passes for 97 yards, including a 49 yard score.

Despite the loss, there were positives for the Wildcats in the game. Running their new flexbone offense for only the second time this season, they pieced together a 12-play drive late in the fourth quarter against Cardinals reserves that saw them maneuver from their own five to Webb City's 45 before an interception halted the drive and set up the final Cardinals score of the game. The two longest plays for the Wildcats both went through senior Ryan Taylor — a 14 yard run, and a 12-yard pass from McKee.

Schoonover knows success in the new offense isn't going to come overnight, but believes his team has shown signs of growth in the new system the last two weeks.

"One thing we have to continue to focus on is, on offense, is making reads on our midline veer reads," Schoonover said. "It's a growth process for a quarterback that hasn't ran it. It's a new step for (McKee) and he's doing a great job for the second time running the flexbone and he'll continue to progress. That's definitely something we can build off of from this game."

Neosho (0-7) now focuses its attention on next week and the Republic Tigers. Schoonover says the team will continue to incorporate new wrinkles into the gameplan on offense as the season progresses in hopes that things will come together by district play in a few weeks. Some of those wrinkles should begin to show this week against the Tigers.

"Obviously we want to do better with the offense as we progress," Schoonover said. "We will expand on what we're doing. We're running the base of this offense (right now). We will go in and we will expand (the offense) for Republic. We have to get better at what we're doing and we'll open it up a little bit this coming week.
"With the athletes we have, I see this offense giving us the opportunity to utilize what we have, not just coming up the pipeline, but with the kids we have here now as well."