Friday, May 28, 2010

SPORTS>>Cabot’s spring features quarterback duel

Leader sports editor

If Cabot football coach Mike Malham could take his three quarterbacks into a lab and stitch them into one, he might have just what he is looking for.

As it is, Malham is still fairly pleased with the three candidates trying to replace departed senior Seth Bloomberg in Cabot’s Dead T offense this spring.

“We’ve been working three of them,” Malham said before the Panthers’ final spring scrimmage Thursday. “One will be a senior, Zach Brown, but he’ll probably start in the secondary for us. The other two will be juniors, Bryson Morris and Zach Craig.”

Malham said Morris and Craig have had problems with the center-quarterback exchange while Brown has not. But Brown may be needed in the secondary because of other departures from the team that reached last year’s 7A state semifinals.

“Right now, they’re getting equal reps, we’re working both,” Malham said of Morris and Craig. “We’ve had a little problem with both of them on the center-quarterback, just taking the snaps. I’ve never had that problem before. If we bring Brown back over we don’t have that problem.”

Malham said Brown is needed in the secondary because of the loss of the Bryant twins, Joe and Powell, the multi-sport athletes seen most recently competing in the state decathlon.

Plus, Malham likes the arm strength of Craig, 6-2, 195 pounds. While Cabot has been known to throw out of the Dead T on occasion, having a strong-armed passer would give opposing defense more to worry about on top of Cabot’s well-oiled option offense that thrives on misdirection and hard-nosed running.

“He throws well, he throws real well,” Malham said. “He threw for over 1,000 yards in junior high in Monticello before he moved over here and I told him, ‘That could have been the highlight of your career son.’ ”

Brown could be the emergency quarterback, Malham said, and added he and Morris are factoring into the secondary right now.

“A lot might depend on who we end up playing in the secondary,” Malham said.

Whoever wins the starting job, he will have to prove himself proficient in operating Cabot’s running game first.

“A lot will depend on who runs the option the best because that’s our bread and butter on the outside,” Malham said. “Your quarterback has got to be a good one.”

If he can avoid it, Malham doesn’t want his quarterback playing both ways.

“In 7A you really don’t want that,” he said. “It’s tough.”

In addition to Bloomberg and the Bryant brothers, Malham has to find a replacement for nose guard T.J. Bertrand and standout linebacker Spencer Neumann, The Leader defensive player of the year last season who signed with UCA.

The Panthers seniors won their first high school playoff game on the way to a home loss to Springdale Har-Ber in the semifinal.

“We’re just trying to fill all those holes left by those graduating seniors and see who’s going to do what,” Malham said.

Malham and the coaching staff took full advantage of the time allotted for spring practice — two weeks to get in 10 days. The Panthers were in full pads and scrimmaged almost every day.

“We scrimmage a lot. We usually take advantage of having the pads on,” Malham said.

“We can do a lot without pads but we’ve been doing that since January. The first half of is kind of individuals, when you’re going over your different reads; we’re going over our actions, backs are going over their plays. We put it together in a scrimmage in the second half.

“It’s a contact sport. We’ve got to find out who will get after it.”