Monday, August 06, 2007

SPORTS>>Cabot battles heat

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers have looked good through the first week of two-a-days, including the last two days when the team went into full pads for the first time. Full-pad practice began around the state on Thursday. Thursday and Friday were also two of the hottest days of the year, but the Panthers fought through it well.

“We looked pretty good,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “The kids worked out pretty hard over the summer so they’re in good shape. We kept ‘em watered down and they got through it fine. We had one, I think, that caught a cramp in his leg, but other than that we didn’t have any problems.”

The Panthers do have a few problems with injuries, but underclassmen and transfers are filling roles left by injured players nicely.

Keifer Richmond, who played for Cabot as a sophomore before moving to Vilonia, is back and providing some depth at offensive guard.

Projected starter Matt Jackson is out right now with injury, but Richmond has played well in his old position.
“He played there as a sophomore,” Malham said. “With Jackson out, offensive guard is a must and he’s doing pretty well right now.

Callin Norris, who transferred in from North Carolina, is taking over some duties and relieving some problems at another thin position, defensive end.

“We weren’t sure who we were going to be able to put there, but he looks like he’s going to be able to play,” Malham said.
Quarterback depth is a problem right now.

Malham has not settled on a definite starter between junior Nathan Byrnes and sophomore Seth Bloomberg, but Bloomberg is taking all the varsity snaps as Byrnes sits out with a broken nose.

“We feel both of those guys can really play,” Malham said. “Depth is a problem right now. If something happens and Bloomberg goes down, with Burns already out, we could be in a bind.”

A few other injuries are forcing younger players into varsity repetitions, but that’s not entirely a negative thing, according to Malham.

“With these guys standing and watching, it’s creating opportunities for some other guys to show what they can do,” Malham said. “This sophomore class has got some athletes. We’ve got six of them working with the varsity right now and they’re not bad. We’re just going to be young.”