Neosho looks for continued improvement in Week 4

Sep. 14—NEOSHO, Mo. — Neosho hosts Republic after a loss at Carl Junction in Week 3, but head coach Brandon Taute has watched his team grow from week to week and believes they're getting better every day.

"I think the kids are hungry to continue to get better," Taute said. "We've shown flashes in every aspect of the game and all of our kids have shown flashes. We just haven't been able to be consistent enough and that's all the way across the board."

Taute said everyone understands they have work to do and that if they can clean up the mental errors they can "be a really good football team." His focus is getting this group to its peak potential by the postseason and he believes playing in the Central Ozark Conference only helps with that.

One area of focus for the Wildcats (0-3) after the loss might be on special teams. Taute noted there were seven points left off the board with a blocked field goal and missing all four point-after kicks.

Neosho lost 32-24 and Carl Junction scored once on a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown. This was the Wildcats' second loss this year by one possession. In Week 1, Neosho fell to Willard 28-21.

Now Taute's unit will meet Republic (2-1).

"They're a physical football team," Taute said of Republic. "They're going to fire out. They're going to be aggressive. We learned that last year when we went to their place. So we have to be able to match that physicality."

The Tigers will be looking to bounce back after dropping their first game at home last week to Webb City. An inability to maintain control of the ball killed Republic in the 21-point loss.

"From a defensive side, I thought we played pretty well. From the offensive side, it was a nightmare, honestly," Republic head coach Ryan Cornelson said.

Mistakes occurred on special teams as well as with a blocked punt and a botched punt attempt.

In coach Cornelson's opinion, the Tigers are yet to put together a good offensive game. Maybe a quarter or a few good possessions, but not even an entire half.

"This was the first that it was turnovers but when it occurred we could not get in rhythm so we struggled offensively the entire night," Cornelson said. "We have to do a better job. We have to take care of the ball and execute our plan."

Republic's focus this week is responding. After getting knocked down, Cornelson wants his team to rise up and respond by playing much better. That begins in practice by playing at game speed. Playing 75% at practice won't simulate game day situations properly, he said.

The Tigers need to control the offensive line in order to get back to winning this week. Also important is extending drives and moving the ball down field.

"We have to get back to what we can control — the line of scrimmage and moving the chains that way. Stop relying on a big play and being more reliant on every play being positive yards," Cornelson said.

Looking at Neosho, Cornelson said he sees the Wildcats' offense as scary because of its ability to score fast. A lot of that comes from how much Neosho will throw the ball but he added that the running game has really stepped up by going well over 100 yards the last two games.

"They were scary last year, they're scary this year," Cornelson said. "Just because of how efficient their offense is. ... You better make sure you're ready to play or they can jump on you in a hurry."

Quenton Hughes is a player that Cornelson complimented for Neosho. The senior quarterback has completed 68% of his passes this year for 653 yards and two touchdowns.

Denver Welch leads the running back group with 372 yards on 81 carries for a 4.6-yard average. He's averaging 124 yards per game and has reached the end zone six times.

Neosho has a pair of junior receivers with more than 200 yards receiving in Tyrone Harris and Hudson Williams. Williams has 25 catches for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Harris has reeled in 27 passes for 253 yards for an average north of 80 ypg.