The Neosho Wildcats welcome the Willard Tigers to Bob Anderson Stadium tonight for the home opener and Central Ozark Conference Large clash.

The Neosho Wildcats welcome the Willard Tigers to Bob Anderson Stadium tonight for the home opener and Central Ozark Conference Large clash.
The Wildcats are looking for their first win in the Leon Miller Era and the Tigers are coming off a come-from-behind win last week over Bolivar.
Both teams are looking for their first wins in conference play.
Last week, Neosho had a chance to jump out to an early lead, after Ozark fumbled away its first possession. The Wildcats gained one first down on the first play of their subsequent drive, but a holding penalty moved the Wildcats back and they sputtered out.
Then, Ozark scored on six consecutive possessions — five touchdowns, one field goal — en route to a 38-7 rout at Tiger Stadium.
The Wildcats simply could not keep Ozark off the field and the Tigers found much success on fourth down, either sustaining drives or producing points.
Last week, Willard sophomore Reece Dawson filled in for senior Quincy Batson (who apparently suffered an injury in the opener against Nixa) at quarterback and engineered a rally from 17-0 in the second quarter to a 28-24 victory at Willard’s Tiger Stadium.
Dawson rushed for three touchdowns — all in the second half — and threw for another. He scored on a pair of short runs — 1-yard and 2-yard, respectively — and his 13-yard TD run with 4 minutes, 20 seconds remaining gave Willard the lead for good.
Dawson recovered from early setbacks in the game, for example when his fifth pass attempt was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, contributing to that 17-0 deficit.
Neosho and Willard have played some epic games in recent seasons.
Last season, Neosho earned a 34-30 win in a game that somebody called the ‘Thriller in Willard.’ At that point, Neosho stood at 3-0 both overall and in the Central Ozark Conference Large.
Senior back Jarvis Funk scored a big touchdown in that game, on a 32-yard scoring pass on a fourth-and-12 play late in the first half. Funk’s score put the Wildcats ahead 14-13 at halftime.
The teams went back-and-forth on the scoreboard in the second half.
Two seasons ago at Bob Anderson, Willard came out a 41-38 winner in a truly wild one where the lead changed hands three times in the final 5:25.
Hunter Yeargan’s 34-yard run put Willard ahead for good with 2:32 remaining and Neosho kicker Brett Williams missed a 37-yard tying field goal with 23 ticks left on the clock.
Willard and Neosho are both in Class 5, District 5. Entering the week, Willard stands second among six teams with 25.5 points, while Neosho is sixth with 17 points.

MUSTANGS (2-0) at INDIANS (2-0)
The Seneca Indians and the McDonald County Mustangs — both unbeaten after wins over nonconference opponents — open Big 8 Conference play tonight at Earl Campbell Stadium.
Seneca earned a 27-7 win last week over Osage, then ranked No. 10 in Class 3. Max Roark — best known as a state champion wrestler during his prep career — tied a school record with four interceptions, caught a touchdown pass from Gavin Clouse, and recovered a fumble.
McDonald County held on for a 14-7 win over district and future Big 8 foe Marshfield. Israel DeSantiago, relegated to the side car last season in former head coach John Diehl’s spread offense, rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.
Last season’s contest presented a wild stylistic contrast between the old school smash mouth of Seneca and the wide open passing attack of McDonald County.
This season, with new head coach Kellen Hoover at McDonald County, it will be both teams attempting to establish their will on the other at the line of scrimmage.
Seneca has won seven consecutive games against McDonald County and the Mustangs’ last win against the Indians came in 2007. The Indians won back-to-back games in 2008 and 2009, the series took a two-year hiatus, and then the Indians have rattled off five straight wins since the series resumed in 2012.
Seneca won 33-26 last season, 36-32 in 2015, 20-14 in overtime in 2014, 49-12 in the Indians’ state runner-up season of 2013, and 41-14 in 2012.
Tonight’s winner will claim a 3-0 overall and 1-0 Big 8 start to the season.
Seneca jumped into the No. 10 spot in Class 3 formerly occupied by Osage. The Indians are the leader in the Class 3, District 4 standings.

BISON (1-1) at WILDCATS (0-2)
The Diamond Wildcats came awful close to their first win of the season and the first win under new head coach Curtis Horton, falling 46-40 in overtime to Spring River Valley Conference foe Jasper. This week, Class 2 Diamond returns home but steps outside the SRVC.
The Buffalo Bison come in at 1-1 after a 59-0 win last week over Pleasant Hope. Class 3 Buffalo fell 38-15 to Fair Grove in the season opener.
Diamond led Jasper 34-21 at halftime last week, with Colby Housh strong at quarterback. He ran for a score and threw a trifecta of scoring passes to Hunter Renfro and Blake Drake, a pair to Drake.
Jasper stormed back for a 40-34 lead entering the fourth quarter and Diamond tied it up with 5 minutes remaining in regulation.
Last season, Diamond lost a 34-33 heartbreaker to Buffalo. Buffalo then lost seven consecutive games — most of them in Central Ozark Conference Small games — to end the season and Diamond won six of its next seven games en route to a SRVC title.

WILDCATS (1-1) at PATRIOTS (0-2)
It’s been a long, long time since the East Newton Patriots defeated the Cassville Wildcats in a football game.
How long? Since 2002 long.
The Patriots welcome the Wildcats to Don Johnston Stadium tonight, looking for their first points of the season let alone their first win under new head coach Broc Wolfe.
Lighthouse Christian and Lamar — two of the best teams on East Newton’s schedule — blanked the Patriots by a combined score of 103-0.
Cassville — blanked 28-0 by Lamar in the first week — earned its first win of the season last week with a 39-28 number on future Big 8 foe Reeds Spring.
The Wildcats’ points and yards came heavily from quarterback Shannon Haney and running back Anthony Tolbert, who combined for 310 yards and six touchdowns.
Haney rushed for 182 yards and four scores, while Tolbert had 128 yards and two scores.