Buffalo Bison fall to Cassville Wildcats

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CASSVILLE — Buffalo head coach Ed Phillips had a feeling Jamen Smith was going to be a great player for his program ever since the first seven-on-seven he watched him participate in. 

“I was like ‘this kid’s going to be special,'” Phillips said. “We hadn’t even practiced yet.”

On Saturday, he coached Smith in his last Buffalo football game. Afterward, he said Smith was the best player to ever put on a Bison uniform. 

Buffalo fell 41-16 in a state quarterfinal matchup at Cassville on Saturday afternoon at a muddy Wildcat Stadium. It’s the third-consecutive year Cassville has reached the state semifinals. 

Buffalo’s season ends with a district title and its third-consecutive 9-3 season. Before then, the Bison had a 10-70 record combined dating back to 2010. 

Jamen Smith, of Buffalo, walks off the field after the Bison's state quarterfinal loss to Cassville at Wildcat Stadium in Cassville, Mo., on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

It also ends with Smith’s Bison career coming to an end.

“He meant everything to us,” Phillips said. “He is the best football player that’s ever come through Buffalo.”

The play of Smith led to the program’s turnaround. He finished his career 228-of-433 (51.5%) for 4,067 yards and 59 touchdowns. He was always the best athlete on the field while rushing for 4,125 yards and 60 touchdowns. 

“Every that he does is just tremendous,” Phillips said. “I’m proud of him as an athlete but he’s just as good as a person. He’s done everything for our program. When you’ve got a player like him, everybody else rises up and has to do things better and he’s led us since he’s started.”

Jamen Smith, of Buffalo, runs with the ball during the Bison's state quarterfinal game against Cassville at Wildcat Stadium in Cassville, Mo., on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

On Saturday, the Buffalo offense struggled to get anything going. The playing conditions of a slick ball and a muddy field wasn’t ideal for a team that was built around its speed. 

Cassville jumped out to an early 7-0 lead behind its potent rushing attack. Jericho Farris ran in a four-yard touchdown four minutes into the game. Buffalo got on the board six minutes after when a snap went over Cassville punter Drake Reese’s head and he picked it up and ran out the back of the end zone for a safety. 

The Wildcats scored midway through the second quarter when Hayden Sink scored on a one-yard sneak. Two minutes before halftime, Smith hit Cameron Portis for a 13-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-9.

Cameron Portis, left, and Bode Abraham, of Buffalo, hug after the Bison's state quarterfinal loss to Cassville at Wildcat Stadium in Cassville, Mo., on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

Cassville scored a touchdown with 3.9 seconds left right before halftime when Sink snuck his second touchdown of the half in. With no timeouts, the Wildcats’ gamble paid off and put them up 20-9 at the break. 

Buffalo started the second half by recovering a surprise onside kick. The Bison capitalized when Smith dove for the pylon and scored to make it 20-16 early in the second half. 

Shortly after, Cassville star Zach Coenen broke away for a 74-yard touchdown run. The Wildcats continued to pound the rock while shutting out the Bison for the remainder of the game and they pulled away for the 41-16 quarterfinal victory. 

Zach Coenen, of Cassville, runs with the ball during the Wildcats state quarterfinal game against Buffalo at Wildcat Stadium in Cassville, Mo., on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

“It was not good conditions for us,” Phillips said. “hat team over there did an outstanding job and I’m very, very proud of our guys and everything they’ve done in four years.”

Phillips choked up in the postgame huddle while Smith wiped away tears. 

Smith characterized the last four seasons as “the greatest feeling ever.” He was most proud of being on a team that finally won a district championship this season while helping turn the program around. 

“I don’t care about the records or anything like that,” Smith said. “I’m just going to miss playing with these guys. They were like family and like my brothers.”

Cameron Portis, of Buffalo, flips into the end zone for a touchdown during the Bison's state quarterfinal game against Cassville at Wildcat Stadium in Cassville, Mo., on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

Smith’s actual younger brother, Jaren Smith, will be one of the Bison’s standout players going forward. Buffalo will return the bulk of its defense and some of its skill payers on offense. 

Smith’s career at Buffalo might be over, but he left it in a better place and the impact he left will still be felt going forward.

“He is special,” Phillips said. “He’s a leader. He just does it all.”

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Editor

Editor is WebTech Group (WTG). WTG is a web hosting, design, SEO, press release distribution company and news agency located in St. Louis, Missouri. Site is owned and operate multiple news sites in the region. Our objective with STLNewsMissouri.com is to offer readers a one-stop news site for Missouri news. We aggregate news from news media across the state. We do not aggregate news from all sources. We pick from those that offer RSS feeds and pick the best with eliminating those that might produce the same news stories, written differently.
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