After briefly holding the lead and keeping the game close through the first quarter, the East Newton Patriots couldn’t contain the powerful Cassville offense as the Wildcats pulled away to a 48-6 victory in the Class 3, District 4 playoffs on Thursday.
The 10-0 Wildcats host Seneca at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Having held the Wildcats to just 14 first half points in their previous meeting this season, the Patriots again seemed to have Cassville contained in the first half. The Patriots drew first blood on an Ian Plemmons two-yard run to make it 6-0.
After a Bradley Lueckenhoff 24 yard field goal made it 6-3, Hayden Prater gave the Wildcats their first lead on a four-yard run to make it 10-6 to wrap up the first quarter. But the Wildcats, after not breaking out until the third quarter in their last match up against the Patriots, went wild in the second quarter with touchdown’s by Stone Phelps, Prater and Gabe Kirk that put them in the driver’s seat for good.
They continued to pull away in the third quarter as Prater broke free on an 89-yard touchdown run and Lueckenhoff added his second field goal on a 34-yard boot. Chase Jackson would later add a 12-yard touchdown run to wrap Cassville’s night.
It was a special night for Prater as he made the most of his opportunities with touchdowns on all three of his carries covering 104 yards on the ground. Kirk completed seven passes for 115 yards with touchdown tosses to Phelps (27 yards) and Prater (seven).
“To be honest, overall, I thought we played about as good as we could have played,” Patriots coach Seth Johnson said. “We had some mental breakdowns, some errors, but for the most part I thought the kids showed up and played their butts off for the most part.
“I’ve got to give (the Wildcats) credit. They’re a good football team and we wish them the best of luck going forward.”
The loss capped a winless season for the Patriots, but they’re left with plenty of positives to build upon this offseason.
“Obviously we would have liked to see a tally mark in the win column, but, you know, it just didn’t happen,” Johnson said. “We’re going to have a lot of kids coming back next year and that’s going to be crucial for our program. Like I told the boys the other night, I’m looking forward to next year already. We hate to lose the seniors that we’ve lost, they’re a bunch of good kids, but we’ve got a good group that will hopefully step in and fill their shoes.”
Page 2 of 2 - While the Patriots took their lumps at times throughout the season, Johnson said he couldn’t be happier to have coached the young men standing on his sideline.
“We did a lot of good things this year, but we also did a lot of things poorly,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to improve on some things next year. I’ve got to tell you though, I’m really proud of the kids. As a whole I thought they were a bunch of tough-nosed kids that played their hearts out every game, and I’m proud to be their coach.”