After three straight games in the friendly confines of Bob Anderson Stadium, the Neosho Wildcats hit the road in Week 6 to face the Republic Tigers and they will be greeted by a pair of familiar faces, Republic head coach Dustin Baldwin and defensive coordinator Zac Nelson, who served Neosho in the same capacities in the previous four seasons.

Neosho and Republic are both looking for their first Central Ozark Conference Large win, and the Wildcats are seeking their first win period of the new season.

Republic defeated COC Small school Bolivar in Week 1 and enter the Neosho game with four straight losses, 39-0 to Webb City, 42-0 to Webb City, 31-26 to Nixa, and 14-7 to Ozark. Like the Wildcats, the Tigers have approached the victory column multiple times, but just fell short in the end.

Neosho just about earned its first win under new head coach Leon Miller, leading Nixa 20-14 in the fourth quarter before a late touchdown pass earned Nixa a 21-20 victory at Bob Anderson.

After the game, Miller talked about what happened against Nixa, but also the road ahead and the general direction of the Wildcats down that road.

“We’ll go back and watch the film,” Miller said. “We’ll correct the mistakes and continue to drill the things we’ve been drilling since Day One and just continue to get better at those things. I told them that I was proud of them. It was a great effort. We did some great things … Nixa did too. They did some good things too. It came down to a play two here or there.

“I thought our defense played well, for the most part. Again, a couple plays, but overall, I think we played really, really well against the run and forced Nixa to go into the passing game. They made a few plays when they had to, but I thought overall we played really well.

“It’s all there in front of us. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve been there before in situations similar to this, so I still believe in them. Our coaches believe in them. They still believe in each other and they still want to get better. You know, I’m not going to panic, I’m not going to throw in the towel, and I know they’re not. We’re going to keep coming back.”

Last week’s highlights included Adrian Hitchcock’s 91-yard blocked field goal return for a 20-14 lead, Jarvis Funk’s 6-yard TD run and a conversion run for a tie score, and Cade Lyerla’s blocked field goal and his performance in the backfield subbing for James Renfro.

The Wildcats have started out strong consecutive weeks against Carl Junction and Nixa, taking possession first and scoring touchdowns on each opening drive, capped off by Gavin Kelley touchdown runs. Neosho moved the ball well on its opening drive against Willard, as well, before fumbling away possession at the Willard 3.

Defensively, the Wildcats have struggled keeping opposing offenses off the field, surrendering big plays on third and fourth down. Nixa had two big fourth down plays, including the winning touchdown, last week.

Offensively, every team in the COC Large features at least one dynamic offensive player and Republic’s dynamic weapon comes in the form of quarterback Riley Watkins, a dual-threat QB who’s likely passed more this season under Baldwin than in previous seasons combined.

Neosho owns three straight wins against Republic, including a pair last season at Bob Anderson, the second in the Class 5, District 5 playoffs.

Dating back to 2010, the teams are 4-4 against each other.

INDIANS (5-0) at HOUN' DAWGS (3-2)
Seneca, who can double their win total from last season with a win in Week 6 against Aurora, remained No. 6 in Class 3 in the latest Missouri media rankings. In fact, the rankings stayed the same all the way down the line.

The Indians outscored their first five opponents 151-53, with the defense allowing 13 points or less the last four games. Seneca owns wins against two schools that were state-ranked in Class 3 at the time, Osage and Mount Vernon.

Seneca and Lamar are the lone unbeatens in Big 8 Conference play, and the two face each other October 13 at Earl Campbell Stadium.

Before that, Seneca must go through Aurora, Cassville, and Monett, key conference and district foes.

Seneca leads Class 3, District 4 with 51.8 points, followed by Mount Vernon (42.2), Reeds Spring (39.5), Cassville (37.72), Aurora (32.14), Monett (29.32), Hollister (25.4), and East Newton (14.37).
Aurora came into Monett last Friday and left with a 46-10 win on the Cubs' Homecoming.

Aurora tallied 490 yards of total offense against the Cubs, gashing them for 273 passing and 217 rushing yards. The Cubs hurt themselves with five turnovers.

J.D. Lee and Logan Lauffer enjoyed big games against Monett, and Lauffer had a tremendous game the week before in a win over East Newton.

The Houn' Dawgs also have the accomplishment of scoring the only six points against Lamar all season. Aurora scored 98 points in wins against East Newton and Monett.

Who wins between Seneca’s defense and Aurora’s offense, thus, will be the key.

MUSTANGS (3-2) at TIGERS (4-0)
McDonald County tries to get back on the winning track in Week 6, but it won't be easy with the six-time defending Class 2 state champions Lamar waiting on the Mustangs.

Lamar outscored its first four opponents 172-6, with three shutouts against Cassville (28-0), East Newton (63-0), and Monett (51-0).

McDonald County comes off a 43-21 Homecoming loss to Mount Vernon, a state-ranked team in Class 3.

McDonald County quarterback Peyton Barton scored all three touchdowns against the Mountaineers, but the previous week in a win against Cassville, running back Israel DeSantiago had 125 yards on the ground.

McDonald County entered the season on a 16-game losing streak, one the Mustangs ended in the season opener against Salem.

Lamar carries its own streak into tonight's game, 39 straight wins since a loss to Carl Junction in the final game of the 2014 regular season.

East Newton travels to Mount Vernon to face the No. 8-ranked Mountaineers at Mountaineer Stadium.

Mount Vernon rebounded from its only loss of the season — 19-7 to Seneca — with a 43-21 win last Friday over McDonald County.

Key for the Patriots on defense will be to find a way to slow down the Mount Vernon passing attack of quarterback Ty Boswell and wide receiver Andrew Montemayor.

Boswell and Montemayor connected nine times for 181 yards and three touchdowns last week.

The East Newton offense can help slow down the explosive Mount Vernon offense by controlling time of possession. You can’t score if you’re not out on the field.

The Patriots have made strides during recent weeks, especially generating 25 points in a 52-25 loss two weeks ago to Aurora.

Offensively, as well as on special teams, Dustin McDermott has proven to be an explosive player capable of producing points for the Patriots.

WILDCATS (0-5) at BEARS (5-0)
Like other first year head coaches Leon Miller (Neosho) and Broc Wolfe (East Newton) at their respective schools, Diamond head coach Curtis Horton remains looking for his first win on the Wildcat sideline.

It will not be easy, because the Wildcats travel to Sarcoxie to face an unbeaten Bears squad that’s amassed 248 points this season — 45 against Jasper, 27 against Commerce, 59 against Miller, 48 against Liberal, and 69 against Southeast.

All told, the Bears outscored their first five opponents 248-46. Sarcoxie has three games where it’s scored more than 46 points.

Diamond has already faced two of the three unbeaten teams in the Spring River Valley Conference — losing 52-0 to Pierce City in Week 1 and 49-24 last week to Lockwood.

The Wildcats lost 47-40 in overtime to Jasper in Week 2 and the offense produced 57 points the last two weeks against Forsyth and Lockwood. Forsyth and Lockwood combined for 97 points.

Opponents have averaged nearly 50 points against Diamond this season and there’s no reason to believe Sarcoxie won’t either match or succeed 50 points.