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DEFINITION OF TOUGH: Joplin’s Bruce Wilbert played second half against Webb City with lacerated spleen

When you describe someone using the tough-as-nails idiom, you are implying the individual is strong, determined and enduring.

While all of those descriptions fit Joplin junior Bruce Wilbert, they might actually be underselling just how resilient the wide receiver/defensive back/kick returner truly is.

Wilbert, who made his first-career start at the varsity level in the Eagles’ 41-40 win over Webb City on Friday, played the entire second half unknowingly with a lacerated spleen.

Wilbert fielded a kickoff with 90 seconds before the intermission and returned the ball to the Webb City 48-yard line, which was instrumental in Joplin’s ensuing drive that led to a go-ahead 28-yard touchdown pass from Always Wright to Trayshawn Thomas a short time later that gave the Eagles a 27-25 lead. The hit Wilbert took wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. In fact, he thought he had just gotten the wind knocked out of him.

“I fielded the kickoff and saw an opening towards the sideline,” Wilbert said. “I juked like I was going inside before cutting back to the outside, making one of the defenders fall. I didn’t see anyone else, and I thought I was gone, so I took off but got tackled from behind me off my right hip. It wasn’t even that big of a hit … he just drove me into the ground.

“I really just thought he knocked the wind out of me. I stood up, asked the backup X to go in, got a drink, and when I went to sit down on the bench, I realized it was a little bit more.”

Once in the locker room at halftime, the Joplin team doctors looked over Wilbert thoroughly, following all of the proper protocols, with the conclusion he probably had bruised ribs.

“They had me ice it all the way through halftime,” Wilbert said. “After I took the ice off, they wanted me to sit for five minutes and tell them exactly how I felt. They wanted to know how I felt as the feeling of the ice started wearing off.

“As soon as they let me take the ice off (and test it), I ran out there and was doing twists and and jogs until I worked up to a sprint. I was able to do all of that, and it didn’t really hurt that bad. … As soon as they told me I could play (if I wanted to), I ran up to my coaches and told them to put me in.”

Joplin junior WR/DB Bruce Wilbert warms up prior to the Eagles’ game with Webb City on Friday at Junge Field. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

Wilbert played the next two quarters, helping the Eagles in their win over the Cardinals in front of the home crowd at Junge Field. Wilbert finished with two receptions for 19 yards, one solo tackle and three kick returns with an average of 29 yards per return. 

“We worked all summer as hard as we could, and we didn’t even know how many games we would get to play, or if we would even get to play this season because of COVID,” Wilbert said while explaining why it was so important to him to play in the second half. “We were all excited for Week 1 because we got to play Webb, so I just wanted to go out and give it my all for my teammates. 

“It almost felt like I was just playing with a soreness or a muscle cramp, one of those things you just push through. It was also Week 1, and we were playing Webb City, so I think the adrenaline really helped a lot. We just wanted to win that game so badly.”

As soon as the adrenaline wore off that evening, Wilbert started to realize his injury may be worse than he originally thought. The pain intensified by the time Saturday morning arrived, with Wilbert icing the area again before reporting the problem to the team doctors, who urged him to go to the doctors immediately after discussing his experiences. 

“When I got (to the hospital), I still didn’t think it was anything serious enough to keep me out of any games or anything like that,” Wilbert said. “I was really, really sad when they told me that I lacerated my spleen. … The first question I asked was how long would I be out?”

Fortunately for Wilbert, his injury was not severe enough to require any type of surgery to repair or remove his spleen. As for his recovery, Wilbert was directed to get plenty of rest in order to let the laceration heal on its own. 

“They told me it was serious, but it wasn’t bad enough that I needed surgery,” Wilbert said. “They kept me overnight for precaution to make sure my blood levels remained fine.” 

Of course, an overnight stay in the hospital can be a lonely experience for anyone, but it wasn’t that way for Wilbert. From the moment he was admitted, the Joplin coaching staff was in contact with Wilbert to make sure he was comfortable.

“Honestly, they are one of the best coaching staffs I have ever played for in any sport,” Wilbert said. “As soon I went to the hospital, Coach (Curtis) Jasper was up there talking to me and making sure I was good. The coaches were texting me 24/7 to make sure I didn’t need anything and to update them as soon as I knew anything. It made me feel a lot better knowing I had that support system. They were willing to do anything they could to help me get better.”

As for Wilbert’s road to recovery, the doctors advised him to rest as much as possible, icing the area regularly, and they have scheduled a CT scan in three weeks to see how the healing has progressed.

“They wanted me to stay another night, but they told me I could leave if I promised to go home and bed rest for the next three or four days,” Wilbert said. “That is why I got to go home (on Sunday). They also told me icing it as I rest would help a lot.

“I think the best-case scenario is three weeks to heal, and the worst-case is six weeks. I am scheduled for a CT scan in two or three weeks, I think, to see if I am good or not. I will know more about it then.”

Looking back, Wilbert was asked if he had any regrets for playing through the injury. He had a quick response.

“Honestly, even with everything that happened with the injury and all of that, it was still a top-three night of my life,” Wilbert said. “If I had the chance to do it again, I would do it the exact same way, 1,000 percent. It was one of the best nights of my life, something you dream about, playing Webb City under the varsity lights. 

“It means a lot to be a part of this team. I didn’t get a lot of varsity time last season, but Zach (Westmoreland) was a big mentor to me. Blake (Tash) and Zay (Isaiah Davis) were incredible leaders. Being a part of this team and taking on one of those roles, it’s unbelievable, and I would do anything for my teammates.”

Carthage cross country team motivated for fall season

Andy Youngworth sees a highly-motivated group each and every day when he watches his Carthage High School cross country team go through preseason workouts.

After the spring track and field season was eliminated due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, Youngworth is certain his Tigers are ready to make up for lost time this fall. 

“Other than a couple of road races, most of them haven’t ran in a competitive high school race since either early November or late October,” Youngworth said. “We had a really good offseason. We had several guys that ran on their own when we couldn’t meet as a team. We didn’t get to have a track season, but the work we did in the spring and summer has really set the table for a lot of these guys and girls to have a special season if things work out right.” 

Junior Mariques Strickland is the top returner for the Carthage boys. Strickland finished ninth at last year’s Central Ozark Conference meet, 12th at the district meet, 28th at the sectional and 143rd at state.

Strickland finished fourth overall at Joplin’s warm-up meet on Saturday at South Middle School, and Youngworth expects him to be his team’s No. 1 runner. 

“Mariques has had a really good offseason,” Youngworth said. “We’ve done a time trial race for 26 years, and we keep a database for it. Mariques just ran the sixth-fastest time overall. That goes back to more than two decades, and we’ve had some good runners here.”

After contributing at the varsity level a year ago, seniors Malcolm Robertson, Ty Lewis and Richard Contreras and junior Joseph Wyrick are also expected to be key performers this fall. 

“Our seniors are all four-year guys and they’ve really improved over the years,” Youngworth said.

Newcomers to watch include juniors Joel Pugh and Landen Schrader and sophomores Miguel Solano, Caleb Fewin and Coltyn Herrera. 

“Our boys team is really deep,” Youngworth said. “Five or six have separated themselves and we’ve got four or five other guys who are vying for the seventh spot. That’s a good problem to have.” 

The CHS girls team will be led by seniors Kimberly Hernandez, Lauren Wilson, Hadley McBride, and Keysli Elias. 

“Our senior girls have really done a good job,” Youngworth said. “It’s always awesome when you have girls who hang around for four years. Their leadership has been great.” 

Hernandez, who finished 27th at last year’s COC race, has made big strides, Youngworth said.

“She ran a lot on her own and it shows,” Youngworth said. “I think Hadley, Lauren and Keysli have also been really dedicated and we’re looking for good things from them.” 

Junior Morelia Reyes and sophomores Diana Pichardo and Lilianna Vasquez are newcomers to watch. 

“The girls who came out are working very hard and were committed to the summer offseason program,” Youngworth said. “We have several holes to fill, but the pieces are in place and I think we can be a competitive team.”

The program’s numbers are down a bit on the girls side, Youngworth noted.


Youngworth is the dean of area cross country coaches. This is his 27th season as Carthage’s head coach.

After the Missouri State High School Activities Association expanded classes for a number of sports this fall, there will now be five classes for cross country. Youngworth expects Carthage to compete in Class 5.  

Carthage is scheduled to compete at the SWCCCA Meet in Bolivar on Saturday. Races begin at 9 a.m.

The 47th Carthage Invitational is scheduled for Sept. 10 at the Carthage Golf Course. 

For more reasons than one, Youngworth noted this should be a memorable season.

“We’re stressing staying healthy and following all of the protocols like taking temperatures every morning and wearing masks when we have team meetings or when they’re stretching,” Youngworth said. “It’s all about taking care of today and just trying to get a little better each day.” 


State qualifiers return for Webb City cross country team

The Webb City High School cross country program had an outstanding 2019 season.

And Cardinals coach Dustin Miller is confident the 2020 campaign could be even better.

Webb City’s roster features a large number of returning state qualifiers, and the boys and girls squads both captured Central Ozark Conference championships last fall.

Webb City’s boys will be led by seniors Joseph Dawson and Owen Weller and junior Roman Borboa.

In a superb ’19 season, Dawson was the runner-up at the COC meet, placed seventh at the district meet, 10th at the sectional event and 15th at the Class 4 state meet.

Weller took fifth at the conference meet, 10th at the district meet, 13th at the sectional and 95th at state. 

Borboa crossed the line 16th at the conference meet, 19th at the district event, 45th at the sectional and 72nd at state.  

“On the boys side, we lost a lot of character guys,” Miller said, mentioning a departed senior class that included standout Haddon Spikereit, who is continuing his running career at Ozark Christian College. “But Joseph is back and Roman is blowing up right now. He’s been really impressive. And Owen is already having a great year. He’s another sub-16 (minute) guy.”

Borboa and Dawson crossed the line first and second, respectively, in the boys race at Joplin’s warm-up meet this past Saturday at Joplin South Middle School. 

Dustin Brockmiller and Sam Winesburg are expected to be Webb City’s No. 4 and No. 5 runners, respectively, while Caden Duke, Evan Stevens, Jose Antillion and Shane Winters are competing for the final two varsity spots.

“We have a great battle go on for our remaining spots,” Miller said. 

Last year, Webb City’s boys won the COC meet and took a full squad to the state championships, finishing 11th. 

Miller noted the expectations are high again. 

“A lot of our guys have put in the work and I think we’ll be alright,” Miller said. “We hope to compete for a state trophy and we’d love to win another conference title.”

The Webb City girls team also returns an experienced bunch — Riley Hawkins, Mileah Metcalf, Halley Philpot, Lauren Kuechler, Elliett Capron, Alanna Bundy and Izzy Lopez.

Now a junior, Hawkins placed third at the COC meet, fifth at the district event, 24th at the sectional and 64th at the state meet.

Hawkins also advanced to state as a freshman. 

A senior, Metcalf also had a fine ’19, taking 11th at the conference meet, 12th at the district event, 22nd at the sectional and 112th at state. 

“We have a lot of returners on the girls side,” Miller said. “We have seven girls with varsity experience, and they’ve put in a lot of consistent work over the winter, spring and summer. We’re expecting big things from our girls team.”

Philpot, Kuechler, Capron, Bundy and Lopez gained plenty of experience a year ago. 

Velissia Perez, Katherine Moore and Emily Countryman are other runners who may contribute. 


The Missouri State High School Activities Association has expanded classes for a number of sports this fall, cross country included. There will now be five classes for cross country.

For all classes, teams and runners will advance to state from a district meet (no more sectionals). The top two teams and the top 15 individuals at each district meet will advance to state.

Miller expects the Cardinals to compete in Class 4. 


The Cardinals will compete at the Southwest Cross Country Coaches Association meet in Bolivar on Saturday. 


VOLLEYBALL: Carl Junction drops opener

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. The Carl Junction volleyball team dropped its 2020 season opener on Friday night.
Rogers (Ark.) defeated Carl Junction 25-21, 24-26, 25-11, 27-25.
The Mounties improved to 4-0, while the Bulldogs dropped to 0-1.
Carl Junction won the JV and freshman matches.
The Bulldogs host Kickapoo on Tuesday.

VOLLEYBALL: Carthage earns four wins in Branson

BRANSON, Mo. Carthage went 4-1 at the Branson Invitational volleyball tournament on Saturday, capturing the Silver bracket’s title.
In pool play, Carthage defeated Fair Grove 25-18, 25-12, Helias Catholic beat the Tigers 25-11, 25-20 and Carthage topped Lebanon 25-18, 25-22.
In Silver bracket action, Carthage beat Republic 25-17, 26-24 and then Mount Vernon 25-18, 25-18.
Carthage hosts McDonald County at 5:30 on Tuesday for Senior Night.

PREP FOOTBALL WEEK 1: Seneca overcomes 14-point deficit, tops Marshfield

MARSHFIELD, Mo. — With a strong second half, the Seneca Indians overcame a 14-point deficit and earned a 34-30 win over Marshfield on Friday night in the 2020 prep football season opener.
The Bluejays led 14-0 in the first quarter before Seneca’s Sebastian Middick returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
The hosts responded and led 20-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Seneca’s Jaxson Graham scored on a 4-yard touchdown run in the second period, but the Bluejays answered to take a 27-14 halftime advantage.
Graham scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter. The second TD was set up by a 35-yard pass play from Lance Stephens to Zane Cotten.
With the pair of scores, the Indians led 28-27 entering the fourth period.
Marshfield recorded a field goal to briefly re-take the lead at 30-28 with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
But Seneca’s Conner Ackerson caught a touchdown pass from Dillon Myers about a minute later, giving the Indians a 34-30 lead.
The Seneca defense came up with a huge defensive stop with just over a minute to play to secure the come-from-behind road win.
Seneca (1-0) hosts Logan-Rogersville (0-1) in Week 2.

The Wildcats suffered a 38-26 setback to Nevada in Week 1. Nevada snapped a 16-game losing streak with the win.

Lett, Secker will lead College Heights volleyball team

After earning all-conference recognition a year ago, senior outside hitters Lainey Lett and Catie Secker are expected to lead the way for the College Heights Christian volleyball team this fall.

Lett was a first-team All-Ozark 7 Conference selection a year, while Secker earned second-team honors. The pair were CHC’s leaders in kills a season ago. 

“Everyone loves the power that Lainey and Catie bring,” Cougars coach Mary Colin said. “That’s really fun. Catie and Lainey will be our power on the outside again. They’ve been there for a couple years now, so we’re used to seeing them on the outside.”

Senior liberos Avery Good and Kaynahn Burk also have plenty of varsity experience. Colin said sophomore Ava Masena is another candidate at the position.

“All three are really great players,” she said of the libero group.

Seniors Layne Jackson and Emma Woodford are middle blockers/middle hitters who should play key roles. 

Sophomore Lauren Ukena is a player who can play right side hitter or defensive specialist.  

“She can do just about anything,” Colin commented.

Colin noted starting positions are still up for grabs. The veteran coach used three different starting lineups during a jamboree on Thursday against Clever at Ozark Christian College.  

“I have 14 athletes who compete well in the gym,” Colin said, noting five sophomores and a freshman are in the mix with eight seniors for varsity playing time. 

Colin noted the group is an enjoyable one to coach. 

“The team’s chemistry is really good,” Colin said. “They’re really nice kids. They are sweet and fun and they cheer each other on. If someone subs in, they encourage their teammates. They’re aggressive, they like getting better and they are fun to coach. We’ll see how they improve all season.” 

College Heights is coming off a stellar 2019 season. It was the one that saw the Cougars go 31-2-1. CHC fell to Diamond in the championship match of the Class 2 District 11 tourney. 

The Cougars must overcome the loss of standout Emmy Colin, last year’s conference player of the year. 

“It’s a little quieter in here now,” Coach Colin joked. “Emmy was a great communicator and she knew the game well. She was a great role model.”

The Cougars host Lockwood on Sept. 3.

Joplin tennis team drops duals at Kickapoo invite

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.—The Joplin girls tennis team dropped four duals at the Kickapoo Invitational on Friday.
Kickapoo defeated Joplin 6-0.
The closest match came at No. 1 doubles, where Kickapoo’s Esther Cole and Brynley Brotherton defeated Astrid Cardenas and Emma Watts 7-5.
In No. 2 doubles, Marissa Scott-Jadyn Wersinger beat Joplin’s Kennedy Schwartz-Jensen Vowels 6-0 and Kickapoo’s Ashley McCurry-Ava Billue topped Lauren Laird-Patience Adams 6-0 at No. 3.
In completed singles matches, Scott defeated Schwartz 6-0 at No. 3, while Wersinger beat Vowels 6-0 at No. 4.
Ozark defeated Joplin 5-4.
Cardenas defeated Hannah Metcalf 6-0 at No. 1 singles, while Watts beat Madison Tourville 6-1 at No. 2 singles.
Cardenas-Watts topped Metcalf-Tourville 6-3 at No. 1 doubles, while Vowels-Laird beat Savannah Goodwin-Isabella Montileone 6-4 at No. 3 doubles.
Ozark’s Paige Chrastina topped Schwartz 6-4 at No. 3 singles, while Miller Bennett beat Vowels 6-2 at No. 4 and Goodwin edged Laird 7-5 at No. 5. Montileone beat Adams 6-1 at No. 6.
Ozark’s No. 2 doubles team beat Joplin 6-2.
Springfield Central defeated Joplin 7-0.
In singles play, Allie German topped Cardenas 6-1, Brett Boney beat Watts 6-2 and Elana Hadi defeated Schwartz 6-1.
Central won three doubles matches by identical 6-1 scores.
Springfield Catholic beat Joplin 5-0.
In two singles matches, Zabelle Brown beat Laird 6-1 and Alex Hamilton topped Adams 6-0.
Catholic won the No. 1 doubles match 6-2, the No. 2 doubles match 6-1 and No. 3 6-1.
Joplin will host Thomas Jefferson at 4:30 on Monday.

Gall’s explosive night helps Carthage overcome turnovers, start 1-0

CARTHAGE, Mo. — In their first game since being crowned Class 5 football state champions last December, the Carthage Tigers played like a championship team — if one seeing its first game-speed action in nearly nine months.

A seemingly unstoppable Luke Gall, sophomore running back, helped Carthage (1-0, 1-0 COC) — which did not participate in a traditional preseason jamboree due to recommendations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic — overcome four turnovers, three of which came in the red zone. Gall scored all five of his team’s touchdowns to help Carthage beat the Ozark Tigers (0-1, 0-1 COC) 35-14 at David Haffner Stadium on Friday night. 

“A big part was the offensive line, the holes were giant,” Gall said. “Just (kept) running my feet, just run hard, that’s pretty much it. I was getting pretty gassed, I’m going to start working on my conditioning.”

He could be forgiven for some fatigue: In just his second varsity start, Gall racked up 259 rushing yards — including an 84-yard dash to the end zone — on 19 carries with the five scores. He continued that conditioning work in-game by also playing extensively at linebacker for the Carthage defense.

“Luke played really, really well,” Carthage coach Jon Guidie said. “You know, he’s a 15-year-old kid. Just a sophomore … I thought he had a great night, he had several carries, several big runs and it’s really great to see because he’s a kid that works his butt off throughout the week and in the weight room. For him to come out and have that type of game to start out with, I’m really proud of him.”

Twice, well within striking distance of a touchdown, Ozark recovered a Carthage fumble, denying the Tigers chances at padding their lead. Carthage’s last drive of the first half ended when Patrick Carlton threw an interception in the end zone. The other turnover came on a low snap that eluded Carlton. Even so, Ozark was limited to two scoring drives and Carthage rode Gall to an offensive outburst.

“That’s stuff that you can clean up and fix,” Guidie said. “And good teams will do that. I thought we were really good last year at ball security and we’ll go back and iron that stuff out. That was Gavin (VanGilder)’s first start, too, at center. And the way these guys play, the fronts they gave us and the stunts they gave us, that’s huge for Gavin to navigate through that stuff, so he’ll continue to grow and get better.”

Carthage will follow up its season-opening win next week with a road matchup with the Carl Junction Bulldogs

Joplin hands Webb City 41-40 loss in 2020 season opener

Joplin coach Curtis Jasper preaches a one-game mentality to his team, and in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic a concern all over the country, that mentality has never been more accurate.

Like every team, the Eagles don’t know how many games they will get to play this season, but one thing is certain — the returning Class 6 runner-ups start the 2020 season 1-0 after Joplin defeated the reigning Class 4 state champion Webb City Cardinals 41-40 on Friday night at Junge Field. 

“That is what we talked about all summer long,” Jasper said. “Let’s work our tails off and pray to God we get to Game 1. If we get (the first game), we better be 1-0, and we are 1-0.”

“This was a great way to start off the season, especially against a great team like Webb City,” said Joplin junior quarterback Always Wright, who made his first-career start. “Right now, we just need to have fun for tonight, but we need to get back to work tomorrow, improving on things we can improve on.”

Joplin came out of the locker room at the half with a two-point, 27-25, advantage. And after the first half saw scores on 8-of-10 drives combined between both teams, Webb City’s opening possession ended in a punt, the only one all game, and Joplin followed with a turnover on downs. Joplin’s defense again came up big after forcing Webb City to turn the ball over on downs, giving the offense a chance to strike first in the second half.

“I am super proud of our guys and I told them at halftime that there is going to be adversity,” Jasper said. “And there was. But we had to keep battling, keep chopping wood and keep believing in each other, and the best team would win. I told them I felt like we were the better team tonight, and they went out and proved me right.”

Joplin’s second possession of the second half only lasted two plays, with Wright faking a handoff and completing a pass to the flat to sophomore wideout Dante Washington, who sprinted upfield past everyone up the sideline on the way to a 49-yard touchdown to put the Eagles up two scores, 34-25, with 25.1 seconds left in the third quarter.

Joplin wide receiver Dante Washington sprints to the goal line in Joplin’s 41-40 win over Webb City on Friday night at Junge Field. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

“Keaton Renfro and Bruce (Wilbert) blocked their tails off that play, so you have to give them credit there,” Jasper said. “That was a great read on our RPO (run-pass option) and (Always) made a nice throw. Dante has a different gear, so he went and hit it.”

“As soon as I saw him over there by himself, I knew he was going to make a play,” Wright said. “He is great in space, he is fast and he really deserves a lot of the credit for our win tonight.”

Webb City senior running back Devrin Weathers, a Kansas State commit, showed off his speed as well, ripping off a 29-yard score on the ensuing drive to trim Joplin’s lead to 34-32 with 9:28 to play in the game.

Joplin drove the ball deep into Cardinal territory when a pass from Wright to senior WR Renfro was fumbled and recovered by the Cardinals at their own 8-yard line. 

Six plays into the Cardinals’ following drive saw Webb City give the ball right back to the Eagles following an option pitch by Webb City quarterback Cole Gayman that found the turf, with Joplin’s Korey Read falling on it for the turnover.

Joplin made the most of the takeaway, again needing just two plays to find paydirt when senior running back Nathan Glades ripped off a 41-yard touchdown run, his fourth score of the night, to put the Eagles back up by two possessions, 41-32, with 3:43 left in the game.

“I was proud of my guys,” Jasper said. “They didn’t hang their head, complain or worry about (the turnover). They went and lined up and played the next play.”

Webb City refused to go down without a fight, as Cade Wilson capped a 12-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to cut Joplin’s lead to 41-40 with 43 seconds left in regulation.

Joplin recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt, and closed out the win in victory formation. 

“Obviously, we would have liked to not let the score there at the end, that would have saved me some years of my life,” Jasper said with a laugh. “But, again, we battled and made them take most of the clock to finally score. When they did, we made the play we needed to on the onside kick. … We’ve played in great games like this against great teams, and we found a way to win. We did that again tonight.”


The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with Webb City and Joplin trading touchdowns to go into halftime with the Eagles leading 27-25.

Weathers got the fireworks started to open the game with a 55-yard touchdown run to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead with 7:42 to play in the opening period.

Joplin responded with a 12-play, 73-yard scoring drive that saw Glades carry the ball into the end zone from 2 yards out to tie the game at 7-7 at the 4:26 mark of the first quarter.

It didn’t take long for Webb City to respond, as Weathers took the ensuing kickoff back 97 yards to the house for a score, putting the Cardinals back on top 13-7.

Again, Joplin’s offense went on a lengthy scoring drive that went 54 yards on nine plays, culminating with Glades scoring from 5 yards out to give Joplin a 14-13 lead with 1:14 left in the first quarter.

Webb City answered back with an 11-play drive, which ended with quarterback Gayman scoring from 9 yards out. The Cardinal’ two-point conversion attempt was no good, giving Webb City a 19-14 advantage.

Joplin got in on the special teams scoring fun when Glades fielded the ensuing kickoff before finding daylight on the way to a 92-yard touchdown return to put the Eagles up 20-19 with 7:12 left in the half. 

Webb City regained the lead on a 10-yard touchdown run by Weathers to cap an 11-play drive to make the score 25-20 with 1:33 seconds left before the intermission.

Working with little time left on the clock, Joplin took possession near midfield after a strong return by Bruce Wilbert. Following a 9-yard run by Glades with a facemask penalty on the Cardinals tacked on, Wright threw a deep ball up the right sideline, finding senior wideout Trayshawn Thomas for a 28-yard touchdown to send the Eagles into the locker room with a 27-25 lead.  

Joplin quarterback Always Wright completes a pass during the Eagles’ 41-40 win over Webb City on Friday night at Junge Field. Photo by Shawn Fowler.


Joplin finished with 353 yards in total offense, with Glades scoring four total touchdowns while finishing with 161 rushing yards on 26 carries to lead the charge.

“He is just such a competitor and so hard to tackle,” Jasper said. “He never gives up. The line did a great job providing some holes, and he did a great job finishing off every run he had.”

“I am proud of this offense,” Glades said. “We did good things, and we did bad things. What I am most proud of is we can still get better. The O-line killed it … and I just can’t thank them enough. The wide receivers are physical on the perimeter, and if they aren’t blocking, the running game isn’t anything. Always was calm and composed all game, and I was proud of him.”

Wright completed 15-of-19 passes for 177 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Washington hauled in six passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, while Thomas, who had a score, and Renfro each caught three passes for 43 yards. Wilbert added two receptions for 19 yards.


Joplin hits the road to face Nixa (1-0) on Friday at 7 p.m.

PREP FOOTBALL WEEK 1: Carl Junction earns road win at Willard

WILLARD, Mo. — The outcome of the game was never really in doubt, with Carl Junction striking early and often to dominate the Willard Tigers 29-12 in the season opener Friday night.

Coming off a 4-6 record in the 2019 season, Carl Junction coach Doug Buckmaster’s Bulldogs, dominated the Tigers, scoring early and, despite a few early season jitters, put the hammer down and never looked back.

With just 1:15 to go in the first quarter a 45-yard pass from Alex Baker to Drew Patterson put the Bulldogs on top 7-0.

The Bulldogs struck again with 6:20 to go in the second on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Baker to Brady Sims, who ended the night with eight yards receiving and 108 rushing yards to go along with two touchdowns. The score put the Bulldogs up 14-0.

Willard tried to make a game of it, scoring with 4:29 to go in the half, taking advantage of blown coverage by Carl Junction. The point-after kick was missed, however, leaving Carl Junction with a 14-6 advantage.

After a block-in-the-back penalty on the ensuing kickoff, the Bulldogs started the next drive on their own 5-yard line. A few plays later, a 42-yard pass from Baker to Patterson, who finished the night with seven receptions for 141 yards, put the Bulldogs deep in Tiger territory in waning minutes of the half. Another quick pass to Patterson gave Carl Junction a first-and-goal look from the Tiger 4, with Sims punching it in with just 1:41 left in the half. A successful two-point conversion gave Carl Junction a 22-6 lead at halftime.

Willard’s Evan Hancock scored on a 50-yard touchdown pass after a broken tackle ato cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 22-12.

Carl Junction went to work, however and another long touchdown pass — 47 yards from Baker to Noah Southern — with 7:53 left in the game put the Bulldogs up for good, 29-12.


Carl Junction hosts the No. 6-ranked Carthage Tigers at 7 p.m. on Sept. 4.

Carl Junction puts up 27 runs in softball opener

REEDS SPRING, Mo. — What a way to begin a new season. 

Carl Junction blasted Reeds Spring 27-3 in a prep softball opener on Friday. 

Yes, that score is correct. 

The Bulldogs plated seven runs in the first inning before adding 12 in a huge second inning. The hosts pushed across three in the second, but Carl Junction’s eight-run third inning accounted for the final score. 

The game ended after the third inning due to the run rule. 

Carl Junction received two hits apiece from Kaitlyn Nease and Kacie Ford, while Addie Brock drove in five runs and scored four times. Brock hit a grand slam. 

Ford had three RBI, while Saedra Allen, Nease and Hannah Cantrell all had two RBI apiece.  

Kalyssa Hagston and Brock scored four times apiece, while Sammie Sims, Dalaynie Hallacy and Cantrell crossed the plate three times apiece. Ford, Bryn Neria, Jamie Fabozzi all scored twice apiece.  

Allen was the winning pitcher. She allowed three runs on three hits and struck out two.  

Carl Junction (1-0) travels to Cassville on Monday. 

PREP FOOTBALL WEEK 1: Webb City falls short in 2020 opener

Missed opportunities on extra point conversions and a lack of defensive stops doomed the Webb City Cardinals in a 41-40 Central Ozark Conference setback to the Joplin Eagles on Friday night in the 2020 season opener at Junge Field.  

The Cardinals missed a PAT kick in the first quarter and then failed to convert a pair of two-point conversions in the second period in a hard-to-swallow one-point loss. 

“There’s a lot you can attribute to the first game, but they were better than we were tonight,” Webb City coach John Roderique said of the Eagles. “We missed that extra point. Maybe we should have kicked another one…you question yourself. You hate to chase points, that’s the toughest thing. That’s why the kicking game is so important. We obviously didn’t do a great job in some areas. We were down nine, so I’m really proud of our kids for battling.” 

The Webb City defense was unable to contain Joplin’s high-powered offense throughout the rivalry clash. The Eagles recorded 353 yards of total offense, with 187 passing and 166 rushing. At key points, the Cardinal defense was unable to get off the field.  

“Defensively, it will be disappointing to see how many missed tackles we had,” Roderique said. “Our kickoff coverage seemed poor. Our tackling, I thought, was not very good. We’ll find those things out. We’ll have a lot of great film to watch. There’s a lot of good things we can take from this to build on. We just need to improve. There’s only three things we need to get better at—offense, defense and the kicking game.” 

Webb City totaled 423 yards of offense, 390 rushing and 33 passing.   


Webb City’s Devrin Weathers and Joplin’s Nathan Glades showed all those in attendance that they should be regarded among the COC’s top running backs. 

A Kansas State recruit, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Weathers scored four touchdowns and ran for 150 yards on 23 carries.  

The 5-10, 180-pound Glades had a breakout performance for the Eagles, scoring four touchdowns and running for 161 yards on 26 carries. The two seniors both had impressive kick returns as well.  

“I tell you what, they were both outstanding,” Roderique said. “No question. I was very impressed with the Glades kid. We knew he was outstanding and he was certainly that way tonight. Devrin busted the first one and then had the kickoff return.” 

Roderique noted Weathers dealt with some cramping issues. 

Webb City’s Devrin Weathers sprints past Joplin’s Donovyn Fowler during Friday’s game at Junge Field. Photo by Shawn Fowler.


Making his first varsity start at quarterback, Webb City senior Cole Gayman ran 20 times for 115 yards with one score. Junior Cade Wilson also totaled 115 yards on the ground on 18 carries. Senior QB Eli Goddard completed one pass, a 33-yard strike to tight end Gary Clinton.  

Safety Treghan Parker made eight tackles for Webb City, while linebacker Jaystin Smith had seven. Webb City wide receivers Mekhi Garrard and Cohl Vaden both missed the game due to injuries. 

The Cardinals were flagged eight times for 60 yards and Joplin was penalized four times for 20 yards. Webb City had 23 first downs to Joplin’s 17. 

Webb City quarterback Cole Gayman is brought down by Joplin’s Yael Herrera. Photo by Shawn Fowler.


The clash between last year’s Class 4 state champion and last year’s Class 6 runner-up was entertaining from the start on a steamy night. 

After Parker intercepted an Always Wright pass on the first series of the night, the Cardinals needed just four plays to score after the takeaway, as Weathers sprinted 55 yards up the middle to the end zone. 

The Eagles tied the game with a 2-yard run by Glades, but Weathers sprinted 97 yards to the house on the ensuing kickoff. The PAT kick failed, however. 

Joplin led 14-13 at the end of the first quarter after a 5-yard run by Glades, along with the kick by Keaton Huff.  

Gayman scampered into the end zone from 9 yards out to give the visitors a 19-14 lead with 7:27 left in the second quarter, but the two-point conversion failed. Glades answered with a touchdown on a 92-yard kick return.  

Weathers’ third TD of the game, a 10-yard run at the 1:33 mark of the second period, gave the Cardinals a 25-20 lead. Again, the two-point try was no good. 

The Eagles responded once again, as Wright completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Trayshawn Thomas to give the hosts a slim halftime advantage at 27-25.  

The lone score of the third period came when Joplin’s Dante Washington hauled in a 49-yard TD pass. 

Weathers sprinted to a 29-yard score with 9:28 left in the game, but the Eagles answered back when Glades broke free for a 41-yard touchdown sprint.  

After the teams traded turnovers, Webb City’s Wilson scored on a 2-yard plunge with 43 seconds remaining. It was too little, too late.  

The Eagles fell on the short kickoff and ran out the clock. 

Webb City’s Treghan Parker tackles Joplin’s Nathan Glades on Friday night. Photo by Shawn Fowler.


The crowd size was limited to 2,000 fans due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.  

Face coverings were mandatory and social distancing was encouraged. Both student sections were much smaller than normal, but it was a small price to pay in order to have a marquee matchup.  


Webb City hosts Neosho next Friday at Cardinal Stadium. 



PREP FOOTBALL WEEK 1: Neosho falls to Republic

NEOSHO, Mo. — Republic earned a 21-0 win over Neosho on Friday night in Central Ozark Conference prep football action at Bob Anderson Stadium. 

The Wildcats played on their new turf field for the first time, but the visiting Tigers spoiled the celebration. 

After an early Neosho turnover, Republic’s Avery Moody scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:54 remaining in the opening frame. 

A pair of passes from QB Gavyn Beckner set up the score, including a 39-yard strike to Landon Porter. 

The Wildcats turned the ball over on their second possession, as well, as Republic’s Connor Sandridge grabbed an interception.  

The Tigers took a 14-0 lead when Moody scored on a 14-yard run. 

The Wildcats threatened late in the second quarter, but the Tigers came up with a key stop, as Neosho turned the ball over on downs. 

The hosts recovered a fumble in the third, resulting in good field position. But the Wildcats failed to score, as a key penalty and a tackle for loss halted the drive. 

Next, Republic’s Moody scored from 6 yards out for the final score. 

Neosho compiled 142 yards of offense, with 118 rushing and 24 passing. Republic had 310 yards of offense, 210 rushing and 100 passing. 

Neosho travels to Webb City next Friday. 




Friday’s result

At Junge Field

Webb City  13   12  0   15—40  

Joplin           14   13  7   7—41  


First Quarter 

Webb City: Devrin Weathers 55 run (Cameron Clark kick) 

Joplin: Nathan Glades 2 run (Keaton Huff kick) 

Webb City: Weathers 97 kick return (Kick failed) 

Joplin: Glades 5 run (Huff kick) 

Second Quarter 

Webb City: Cole Gayman 9 run (Pass failed) 

Joplin: Glades 92 kick return (Kick failed) 

Webb City: Weathers 10 run (Run failed) 

Joplin: Trayshawn Thomas 28 pass from Always Wright (Huff kick) 

Third quarter 

Joplin: Dante Washington 49 pass from Wright. (Huff kick) 

Fourth quarter 

Webb City: Weathers 29 run (Clark kick) 

Joplin: Glades 41 run (Huff kick) 

Webb City: Cade Wilson 2 run (Cooper Crouch pass from Gayman) 


Records: Webb City 0-1, Joplin 1-0 

Next week: Webb City hosts Neosho. Joplin is at Nixa.  



Seven seniors to lead Neosho volleyball team

Four-year starters Savannah Merriman and Brylee King are among the seven seniors who will lead the way for the Neosho High School volleyball team this fall. 

Seniors Abby Jarvis, Andi Johnson, Kaylee Butler, Shelby Roberts and Melia Robertson also return with prior varsity experience.  

“I am blessed to have seven seniors return this year who have had a lot of varsity experience previously,” Neosho coach Ann Landrum said.  

Merriman earned honorable mention all-conference honors last year at outside hitter, while King has also been a key performer from the time she entered high school.  

“Savannah and Brylee will definitely lead the way,” Landrum said. “Savannah will set and hit for us, and Brylee will hit and pass for us, as well as keep us grounded. Our other seniors bring a lot to the table.”  

Butler will be a setter, Jarvis and Roberts will play the middle positions, Johnson will play outside hitter and Robertson will anchor the Wildcats defensively.  

Juniors Lexi Laney (setter, outside hitter) and Rylee Amato (libero) are also expected to contribute nicely this season.  

Juniors Kylee Schmidt and Lana Yang, and sophomores Meredith Baldwin and Capri Williams are other players in the mix for varsity playing time. 

Landrum noted her expectations for the team never change. 

“We have the same expectations from the start—stay focused, play hard and get better one ball at a time,” she said.  

Landrum noted the Wildcats have been working hard in practice in preparation for the season-opener against Seneca on Sept. 1.  

And the veteran coach added she’s been pleased with what she’s seen. 

“First and foremost, I love my kids,” Landrum said. “I have great kids. This year, all the way around, has been exciting. We have a varsity team led by seven seniors with a wonderful support staff behind them. There is actually depth in positions, which we really haven’t had much of in the past.”

“The JV kids are stronger and more knowledgeable,” Landrum added. “And, for the first time in five years, we have a freshman team—that’s exciting! All the kids mesh really well. They genuinely like each other and it’s fun to watch them. They are more competitive at each level and things are starting to click. I believe they’re going to be fun to watch and they are going to make some wonderful memories.” 




Last year’s records: Republic 2-8, Neosho 2-8

Last year’s meeting: Neosho 34-28

OUTLOOK: Neosho will be playing on its new turf field at Bob Anderson Stadium for the first time. 

Senior running back/linebacker Drayke Perry and senior lineman Kaden Decker are team leaders for Leon Miller’s Wildcats. Junior Evan Haskins is expected to start at QB for the hosts. 

Tigers coach Dustin Baldwin, who left Neosho to take over at Republic, will be back in familiar territory.

Republic has seven returning starters on defense and four on offense.  Josh Sterling is an offensive threat at wide receiver or running back. The Tigers had four players competing for the QB spot.




Last year’s records: Carl Junction 4-6, Willard 5-6

Last year’s meetings: Willard 48-6 (regular season), Willard 41-14 (district tournament)

OUTLOOK: The game marks the return of Carl Junction senior quarterback Alex Baker. The standout missed all of last season due to injury. Expect Drew Patterson, last year’s starting QB, to line up at receiver. Noah Southern, Brady Sims, Jesse Cassatt and Cole Stewart are other players to watch for Doug Buckmaster’s Bulldogs. 

With plenty of depth, the Bulldogs are going back to a two-platoon this year. The Tigers will rely on 10 returning starters. 

Blessed with size up front, Willard will once again rely on its power running game. Marshall Swadley returns at running back for the Tigers after recording more than 600 rushing yards last season. Eli Aye is a receiving threat. 




Last year’s records: Ozark 4-6, Carthage 12-2

Last year’s meeting: Carthage 42-27

OUTLOOK: For the first time in program history, Carthage will take the field as a defending state champion after claiming last year’s Class 5 crown.

Carthage senior quarterback Patrick Carlton is the reigning Class 5 Offensive Player of the Year, and the hosts will have new faces at many of the skill positions.  

Offensive lineman Aiden Logan, an Arkansas State recruit, will help open up running lanes for Jon Guidie’s squad. 

Chad Depee’s Ozark squad features 14 returning starters, led by quarterback Cannon Cox and running backs Ethan Pritchard and Tylr Bolin.