The Neosho Wildcats travel to Mount Vernon tonight for a jamboree against the host Mountaineers, Bolivar, and Lebanon.

The Neosho Wildcats travel to Mount Vernon tonight for a jamboree against the host Mountaineers, Bolivar, and Lebanon.
Football starts at 7 p.m. at Mountaineer Stadium. The Wildcats face Bolivar in the first session, then rotate to Lebanon and Mount Vernon. Admission’s $3 adults, $2 students.
The Wildcats officially open their 2017 season next Friday on the road against the Branson Pirates and tonight’s road trip will be preparation for a Wildcats squad on the road to Central Ozark Conference Large foes Branson and Ozark the first two weeks of the season.
Neosho will feature a new head coach in Leon Miller (a veteran Kansas high school football coach who helmed the 1994 Frontenac Raiders to a state title) and a new quarterback (Coleman Scott graduated after two seasons as the starter).
Key returners for the Wildcats include all-conference selections Adrian Hitchcock and James Renfro, players who earned their honors on the defensive side of the ball and who also play offense.
Republic formerly played in this jamboree, but former Neosho head coach Dustin Baldwin and the Tigers are headed to Parkview with Cassville and Willard.
• The Seneca Indians are the only team in the Daily News coverage area to return their head coach from last season, Ryan McFarland, who finished his first season as the Indians’ head man.
The Indians return several key players from their three-win team that generated over 2,500 yards of rushing behind ball carriers like junior quarterback Gavin Clouse and senior running back Cole Hatfield. Clouse and Hatfield combined for over 1,300 yards rushing last season.
It’s been said that both teams and quarterbacks improve during their second year — both head coach and quarterback enter their second season and the Indians are seeking a return to the elite of the Big 8 Conference, which featured state championship winners Lamar (Class 2) and Monett (Class 3) last season. The conference will be expanding to 14 schools next season.
Hatfield participated in the Blue-Grey regional and national combines at Missouri Western and the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, respectively, this summer and Gavin Dunnam played for Team USA against Canada in the 18U North American Championships.
Seneca will be the Class 3 school tonight going against Class 4 powerhouse Webb City and Class 6 Joplin. Their jamboree begins at 7 p.m. in Webb City.
• The McDonald County Mustangs travel to Reeds Spring for a four-team jamboree with the host, Aurora, and Branson. Play begins at 7:30 p.m.
McDonald County, under new head coach Kellen Hoover, returns several key players from last season — senior quarterback Peyton Barton, senior receiver and defensive back Cole DelosSantos, senior running back and linebacker Israel DeSantiago, and junior returning leading rusher Oakley Roessler among them. DelosSantos caught 56 passes and made 112 tackles last season, Barton threw for nearly 1,500 yards, DeSantiago led the Mustangs in rushing a couple seasons ago and led last season with 117 tackles, and Roessler totaled over 400 yards in rushing and receiving.
DelosSantos participated in both the same regional and national Blue-Grey combines as Hatfield.
The Mustangs look to end a 16-game losing streak dating back to the 2015 season when they open next Friday on the road against Salem.
Reeds Spring will join McDonald County and Aurora in the Big 8 Conference next school year. The Wolves are the defending co-Central Ozark Conference Small champions and have 14 starters returning from a 8-3 squad.
Branson features a new head coach in Anthony Hays and Hays will be able to rely on returning starting quarterback Ryan Still and returning starting running back Kyle Hunn. Branson opens its season at home August 18 against Neosho — the Wildcats have a three-game winning streak against Branson, including a win two seasons ago in Branson.
Aurora took a mighty step back last season after losing virtually the farm after the Houn’ Dawgs’ state playoff run the season before and now have a new head coach in veteran assistant Craig Weldy, who served Aurora for nearly 15 years before getting his chance to be the head man.
• The Diamond Wildcats take one step closer to officially debuting their new team and new head coach Curtis Horton, making a trip to Hollister tonight.
The Wildcats — defending Spring River Valley Conference champions — lost key players in Carter Prewitt and Triston Shepherd (Shepherd plays football at NAIA Evangel and Prewitt signed with Independence Community College for baseball), but do return seniors Christian Maturino and Hunter Renfro, among several others, who played vital roles on teams that finished a combined 15-7 during former head coach Ben Glidewell’s two seasons on the Diamond sideline.
Horton recently served as the head coach at Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College, who plays in the rough and tumble Jayhawk Conference (featuring programs like Butler and Hutchinson). Horton made his name on coaching up offensive linemen.
The Wildcats play Springfield Catholic, Ava, and Hollister in the jamboree, teams Diamond will not see during the regular season.
Springfield Catholic and Hollister will feature in the expanded Big 8 next season, while Ava comes off an 8-3 season.
• Featuring its fourth new head coach in as many seasons, East Newton made gigantic progress last season, breaking long losing streaks both overall and in the Big 8 Conference en route to three wins. Jamie LaSalle left for his alma mater Miller and in stepped Broc Wolfe.
Just a couple seasons ago, East Newton’s numbers were down in the teens, not a good situation for any football program over a nine-game regular season.
The Patriots reportedly have 40-45 players out this season, an increase by 10-15 bodies from last season. Unfortunately, five players graduated who earned all-Big 8 honors last season.
East Newton travels to Miller tonight with the jamboree kicking off at 7 p.m.
• Jamborees for other sports coming up include:
Seneca softball travels to Monett tonight to face the host Lady Cubs and Willard, with a first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
McDonald County softball hosts East Newton and Nevada on Saturday, with the festivities beginning at 10 a.m.
Neosho softball plays Carthage and Carl Junction beginning at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in Carthage.
Seneca volleyball hosts Diamond, McDonald County, and Monett beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, while East Newton travels to Sarcoxie to face Sarcoxie and Marionville also beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Neosho boys soccer faces Carl Junction, College Heights, and Webb City beginning at 5 p.m. Monday.