SENECA, Mo. — Each team’s first offensive possession was indicative of how the rest of them would go. For Seneca, that meant an 80-yard march that consisted of 14 plays and melted nearly seven minutes off the clock, culminating in a 5-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Ethan Fritchey.
When it was Cassville’s turn, the Wildcats began with a short, 2-yard run, then the Seneca defense stuffed running back Jake Anthonysz at the line and forced a fumble that Cassville recovered. Third down brought an incomplete pass, forcing a punt, the first of seven Seneca forced.
Meanwhile, Seneca scored three more times to cruise to a 27-0 win on Friday night.
Senior running back Jaxson Graham had 15 carries, totaling 176 yards on the ground, including a 76-yard touchdown on Seneca’s second drive. Twelve of those rushes and 175 of the yards came in the first half.
Seneca’s other scores came on a pass from Fritchey to Conner Ackerson, who was running a flag route into the end zone and jumped to beat a defender for the ball and touchdown, and a 33-yard run by Jackson Marrs.
“I was proud of the way we started that game, going on a long drive like that and setting the tone,” said Seneca coach Cody Hilburn. “It’s good for us, but man our defense was great. They had a rough go the past two weeks against two really good football teams. We told them to stay positive and eventually it was going to pay off and our defense was fantastic.”
In fact, Seneca limited the Wildcat attack to 95 yards of total offense and forced three turnovers, two on downs. Perhaps even more stark, Seneca had more touchdowns, four, than Cassville managed first downs, three.
“I think it was as a whole (performance),” Hilburn said. “And that’s what we preached all week, 11 hats to the football and playing extremely hard and our kids did that tonight.”
The win drops Cassville to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the Big 8, while Seneca got above .500, moving to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in league play.
Hilburn said getting his team ready to play its best when the district playoffs roll around is more important than having a perfect regular season.
“We want to be playing our best football during district play,” he said. “It was never about the regular season. We just want to improve every single week, not worry about the scoreboard. We play a tough schedule, such a tough schedule, and even after those losses, our kids understood that we were winning and learning and hopefully we were going to be playing our best football come Week 10, Week 11.”
In the second-to-last game of the regular season, Seneca travels to face Lamar next week, while Cassville returns home to host East Newton.