The Neosho Wildcats (3-3) and the Carl Junction Bulldogs (3-3) clash in a Central Ozark Conference game with district seeding at stake.

Neosho and Carl Junction are currently second and third in the Class 4, District 6 standings with 42.33 and 38.83 points, respectively.

The Wildcats come off a 20-6 loss to Joplin in which the home team Neosho outgained Joplin but could only punch the ball in once all night. Neosho and Joplin played to a scoreless stalemate in the first half, then both teams exchanged scoring drives before Joplin’s outstanding playmaker Zach Westmoreland defined the game in his name with two more scores, highlighted by a 58-yard interception return for touchdown that broke Neosho’s back. Westmoreland nearly returned another interception back for a score on the game’s final play.

"Super proud of these kids,” Neosho head coach Leon Miller said after the game. “They played their tails off for four quarters. We had our chances, but weren’t able to convert and put it in the end zone. That was the name of the game.  Had a drive there late, thought we could go down and get something late, but penalties hurt us there.

“I’m really pleased (with the defense). No. 1 (Westmoreland), he’s a heckuva player. He gets the ball in his hands, he’s dangerous. I thought we did a great job of containing him and everything that goes with it. Got to give their quarterback (Blake Tash) kudos. We put pressure on him and he found a way to get away from it and made some plays.

“They’re a good ballclub. We’re a good ballclub. It was a great football game, but unfortunately, what you do between the 20s don’t matter, you’ve got to put it in the end zone. Turnovers and penalties, they can be drive stoppers and we had them at the wrong time.”

Meanwhile, Carl Junction rebounded from an overtime loss in Week 5 to Ozark with a 21-7 home win over Nixa. The name of that game was that Carl Junction forced seven Nixa turnovers and offensively, quarterback Joe Kennedy rushed for a pair of scores and passed for the other.

Neosho defeated Nixa 21-6 the previous week and in that contest, Neosho rebounded from a very quick 6-0 deficit with a strong defensive performance the rest of the way and a dominant ground attack that wore down the Eagles. Cade Lyerla, who scored Neosho’s lone TD last week, rushed for nearly 200 yards in that victory over Nixa.

If the Wildcats are to grab this conference and district victory Friday night, they will need to avoid those drive stoppers known as penalties and turnovers as often as possible and find ways to get in the end zone, finishing off drives with points.

Since the Bulldogs joined the COC, Neosho has lost both games to Carl Junction, 35-7 at home last season and 35-20 two seasons ago in Dustin Baldwin’s final season.

DIAMOND (2-4) at PLEASANT HOPE (0-6)
After three straight weeks at home, the Wildcats hit the road to face their Southwest Conference foe Pleasant Hope.

It has been an unpleasant season for Pleasant Hope.

The Pirates are winless and have been outscored 288-66 their first six games. In their closest game, Pleasant Hope took a 15-0 loss to Ash Grove, a team the Wildcats defeated 16-0 to open the season.

Pleasant Hope has actually scored more points than Diamond this season (66-60), but the Pirates have surrendered 101 more points (288-187).

Diamond comes off a 20-6 win last week over winless Liberal.

The Wildcats have been led offensively this season by quarterback Sparky Bridgewater and receiver Colby Housh. Housh has 27 grabs for 281 yards and two scores.

Additionally, last week against Liberal, Austin Behler returned an interception for a touchdown.

LAMAR (6-0) at McDONALD COUNTY (3-3)
The Mustangs are 2-0 this season when coming off a loss, earlier this season rebounding after losses to Marshfield (41-7) and Hollister (35-28) with victories over Logan-Rogersville (21-7) and Nevada (42-20), respectively.

No offense to Logan-Rogersville and Nevada, but they’re small fries compared to the Mustangs’ opponent Friday night.

Yes, the Lamar Tigers come to Anderson and they’re only the owners of the nation’s longest winning streak at 55 games.

Yes, last time Lamar lost a football game Barack Obama was the President.

That would be the final game of the 2014 regular season.

Last week, Lamar scored 65 points on winless East Newton, all in the first half. The Tigers scored 37 points alone in the first quarter.

You might say the Tigers came out fired up after only a 21-19 halftime lead the previous week against Seneca.

McDonald County lost 37-6 last week against unbeaten Cassville. Early on, McDonald County trailed 7-6 and the Wildcats finished the game with the final 30 points.

Cassville’s defense kept McDonald County senior running back Oakley Roessler out of the end zone for the first time this season, and it’s likely that Lamar will be able to do the same Friday night.

MONETT (1-5) at EAST NEWTON (0-6)
Class 4 Monett and Class 2 East Newton both vie for their first win in Big 8 Conference West play. The Cubs’ only win this season came against Logan-Rogersville, 43-28, but the Wildcats are in the other division of the Big 8.

Monett has showed signs offensively the last couple weeks against first Logan-Rogersville and then Seneca last week in a 49-28 loss that saw neither team exactly excel defensively.

What else can be taken from a game in which the losing team gained 424 total yards of offense with 232 rushing and 192 passing and the winning team gained 547 yards with 379 rushing and 168 passing? Quick math: That’s 971 total yards, 611 rushing and 360 rushing.

East Newton, meanwhile, hopes that it can get something going in the first half after being outscored a combined 112-0 in the first half the last two weeks against unbeaten Cassville and unbeaten Lamar.

The Patriots have scored 28 points this season and have been shutout four times.

East Newton owns a 18-game losing streak, dating back to late in the 2016 season.

SENECA (2-4) at MOUNT VERNON (5-1)
The Seneca Indians sure have played one tough schedule this season: four of the first five opponents (Springfield Catholic, Reeds Spring, Lamar, and Cassville, in their order on the Seneca schedule) have combined for a mere two losses this season and now, in Week 7, the Indians hit the road to Mount Vernon to face a 5-1 Mountaineers team.

Last season, Mount Vernon sent Seneca (disappointing 9-2 overall finish) packing early with a Mountaineer victory in the district semis.

Last week, Seneca racked up some ridiculous offensive numbers against Monett — 547 total yards, 379 rushing and 168 passing as quarterback Gavin Clouse and skill players Trey Wilson and Monty Mailes all enjoyed big games highlighted by big plays.

Mount Vernon, however, is a far superior defensive team than Monett, reflected by shutouts the previous two weeks against Aurora (28-0) and Logan-Rogersville (30-0).

The Mountaineers, in fact, have surrendered a mere 62 points in their first six games this season, just over 10 per contest. Reeds Spring’s 27 points remain the highest against the Mountaineers.

The Mountaineers do have middle linebacker Will Boswell, the reigning Class 3 top defensive player.