Something that Neosho head coach Leon Miller said earlier this season came to mind after the Wildcats’ 41-0 loss to Webb City last week and now heading into a Week 4 showdown against Carthage, another unbeaten Central Ozark Conference rival with a long history of success against the Wildcats, Friday night at Bob Anderson Stadium.
It was something that Miller said after Neosho rolled to a 35-0 season-opening win against Ozark — dominating the Class 6 Tigers from opening kickoff all the way to the final gun — and when asked if Neosho would carry momentum going forward into the next week against Branson.
“The thing about the kids is that they don’t get too high with the highs and too low with the lows,” Miller said. “They just keep plowing, OK, and that’s what I like about this group.”
The Wildcats will have to not be too low after last week’s performance against the defending Class 4 state champions at Cardinal Stadium.
Field position was against the Wildcats all night and penalties and special teams miscues aided the Cardinals into short field.
Webb City scored consecutive touchdowns on its first six possessions and the game entered turbo clock mode early in the second half.
The Wildcats still will rely heavily on their strengths, their offensive and defensive lines. Neosho battered Ozark and Branson for seven rushing touchdowns and the Wildcats’ defense surrendered a single touchdown over the first two weeks. In fact, Neosho senior linebacker Tre Letts’ sensational 96-yard fumble return for a touchdown equalled the opponents’ offensive production.
Class 5 Carthage enters with a 3-0 mark after last week’s 35-14 win over Joplin. The Tigers defeated Nixa 38-7 in the season opener and took down Carl Junction 42-18 in Week 2.
Last week, Carthage dominated the Eagles with their ground attack, with only four pass attempts all night.
The Tigers trotted out a new “tank” formation utilizing sophomore quarterback Patrick Carlton, who scored a touchdown on every third carry with four scores in only 12 carries.
Two ball carriers reached 100 yards — Tyler Mueller 107, Tucker Downing 100 — and quarterback Zeke Sappington added 82 yards.
Mueller carried the ball 20 times, while Downing had five totes, both proving effective in different ways.
Carthage’s defense, meanwhile, limited Isaiah Davis and Zach Westmoreland, explosive Joplin players held way below their normal standards of excellence. For example, for the first time in his career, Davis was held under 100 yards rushing on a night with at least 20 carries.
The Tigers have dominated Neosho on the gridiron since 2009, winning 12 straight contests in the overall series. Last couple seasons, Neosho lost twice to its rival from the north.
Neosho won twice against Carthage in 2008 — once in the regular season and then again in the playoffs. Neosho’s first win in ’08 ended a six-game losing streak to the Tigers in the proverbial ‘Black and Blue Bowl.’
EAST NEWTON (0-3) at NEVADA (0-3)
Something will have to give Friday night at Logan Field when these two winless teams take on each other in Big 8 Conference West play.
East Newton’s first three opponents outscored the Patriots by a 106-8 score and the Patriots were shut out their first two weeks this season against Hollister (35-0) and Aurora (33-0).
Offensive production has been less a problem for Nevada, with 68 points scored against Reeds Spring, Mount Vernon, and Seneca. It’s been the defense and giving up points, especially in flurries.
Reeds Spring, Mount Vernon, and Seneca combined to score 135 points on the Tigers, with all three opponents enjoying tears at different parts of the game. Reeds Spring scored five TDs on Nevada in the third quarter of their game and Seneca went for four scores in the second quarter last week.
McDONALD COUNTY (2-1) at HOLLISTER (1-2)
The McDonald County Mustangs took a 41-7 loss to Marshfield in the season opener, but then the Mustangs bounced back with consecutive wins against Logan-Rogersville (21-13) and East Newton (38-8).
Now, the Mustangs make their longest road trip to face a Hollister squad 1-2 on the season with its lone win at home against East Newton.
McDonald County senior running back Oakley Roessler has been a force all three games. Keep in mind that in the opening loss, Roessler scored the Mustangs’ lone points on a 80-yard touchdown run and he gained over 200 yards against the Blue Jays.
Roessler has been over the century mark in each game this season.
Hollister, meanwhile, took it on the chin last week with a 35-0 loss to Springfield Catholic.
Springfield Catholic ran it on Hollister for more than 300 yards and that could possibly mean a big night for McDonald County on the ground and on the scoreboard.
MILLER (2-1) at DIAMOND (1-2)
After a 50-6 loss last week to national home school power Lighthouse Christian, the Diamond Wildcats return to Southwest Conference play with a game against former Spring River Valley Conference rival Miller.
After opening its season with a pair of routs against Stockton (43-0) and Pleasant Hope (55-14), Miller took a 42-7 rout last week at the hands and feet of Strafford.
So both teams hope to bounce back in Week 4.
On the ground, Diamond has led by junior Cameron Addington and senior Chad Stephens, and Addington rushed for nearly 100 yards last week against Lighthouse Christian. Addington scored Diamond’s lone TD on the night.
Miller and Strafford were starting the second quarter last Friday night when lightning in the area forced a delay and then persistent rain would just not stop, so both teams decided to resume the game Saturday.
Strafford led 6-0 before play was suspended and then 14-7 at halftime. The Indians simply broke down the Cardinals in the second half.
That, and Miller turned over the football three times on two interceptions and one fumble.
We’ll see who returns to their winning form on Friday night.
SENECA (1-2) at CASSVILLE (3-0)
The Seneca Indians and the Cassville Wildcats have played some epic football games against each other many times over the years.
Friday night’s Big 8 Conference West showdown could be another one.
The Indians righted the ship last week against Nevada after losses to Springfield Catholic and Reeds Spring, with both offense and defense effective in the 35-12 victory.
Seneca running back Trey Wilson rushed for three touchdowns in a 28-point second quarter and Nevada scored its lone points on a pair of long passing plays.
Meanwhile, Cassville comes into Friday night unbeaten after three dominant performances against Aurora (42-12), Springfield Catholic (34-7), and Monett (49-12).
Both Seneca and Cassville are good, old-fashioned, physical football teams.
Last week against Monett, Cassville generated over 450 yards of total offense and forced Monett into four turnovers, all fumbles.
Featured ball carriers for the Wildcats include quarterback Shannon Haney and running backs Bowen Preddy and Anthony Tolbert.
Of that over 450 yards last week against Monett, over 370 of it came on the ground.