ANDERSON, Mo. — The McDonald County football team’s record officially moved to 8-1 with last Friday night’s shutout win over Cassville, and as it turns out, the win is making school history.
The last time a Mustangs team has done that well was over half a century ago.
Steve Parnell played quarterback for the 1965 Mustangs during his senior year. It was only the fourth year the program had been around, and the best season a team had had yet.
Parnell says, “We’ll give all the benefit and all the credit to Mickey Heatherly. I get a little emotional. He was, he was really a cool guy. He was the coach. He started the program in our fourth year, we were conference co-champs.”
The Mustangs compiled an 8-1 record: the best in program history. That record would stand for decades, until now.
Parnell says, “I had no idea it would take 56 years to reach this point. The football program, we’re not really sure why it never really did get off the ground here. But now, it all seems to be clicking and coming together.
For Parnell, the record being matched, and potentially broken this Friday night, is almost poetic. His grandson, Jack, is currently a junior on the team.
Jack Parnell, wide receiver/cornerback, says, “He’d always tell us about his high school days, and I’d always just think about what it would be like when I was in high school and what we were able to do. He’d be like, ‘Back when I was in high school, we set the record and everything’. It feels nice to throw it right back at him.”
Steve Parnell says, “I’m just tickled pink. Records are made to be broken. What better to have your grandson on the team that breaks it?”
Of course, the two teams achieved their records under much different conditions.
Steve Parnell says, “Behind the armory here in Anderson is where the football field was. It was so short, we only had 5-yard endzones. We were short. And rocks. We had plenty of McDonald County rocks would happen to show up.”
Jack Parnell says, “We’re very fortunate to have a great facility like we do. The turf field, the stands. He didn’t have these luxuries.”
All those amenities are there to help the Mustangs achieve their goal, which is not just matching, but breaking the 1965 squad’s record. The older Parnell has been to every game this season but one, and he believes the team is well on their way to doing just that.
Jack Parnell says, “It’s just, you can tell. This is the one. And hopefully they’ll continue to play as well as they have up to this point now we’re in the postseason ball games.”
The Mustangs will face Monett, who they beat in the regular season, this Friday night in the first round of district play. Should McDonald county win, they’ll move to 9-1 and officially be the winningest team in school history, surpassing the 1965 squad.