Friday, June 18, 2010

SPORTS>>Panthers partition coverage program

Leader sportswriter

Cabot’s run-based Dead-T offense is not very 7-on-7 friendly.

But there’s plenty of practical experience for the Panthers to gain on the defensive side.

That was the plan for the Panthers as they hosted the second week of summer football at Panther Stadium on Wednesday. Bald Knob, Hazen and nearby North Pulaski make up the other teams in the small league, which will meet two more times in July.

While Wednesday was another opportunity for Cabot to size up competing quarterbacks Zach Craig and Bryson Morris, most of the focus centered on the two defensive units.

“That’s the one reason why we do it,” Cabot defensive coordinator Randy Black said. “We do it for defensive purposes. As a matter of fact, we’re just now working on throwing the ball. In the spring, we didn’t throw a pass. That’s the reason we started.”

The Panthers began the evening with a 30-minute scrimmage against Bald Knob before facing Hazen and then North Pulaski.

All of the teams then convened at the south end zone, and each defense made a nine-play stand as opponents rotated out after every play.

The Bulldogs were the most productive team offensively, scoring three times against the Panthers. But Cabot was able to limit
Hazen in the second scrimmage, and held North Pulaski scoreless in the final head-to-head battle.

“We did a great job of communicating, and it seemed like we were a little bit smarter,” Black said. “At this point, I was pleased with our calls and our rotations. We need to do a better job of breaking on the ball.”

Bald Knob threw two more touchdowns against Cabot in the goal-line finale, but the Panthers shut out Hazen and North Pulaski.

“The goal-line period — I thought that was our highlight,” Black said. “We had a pretty good goal-line period. Out of nine plays, we only had two busts. Seven out of nine is not bad for this early.”

Offensively, it wasn’t completions that meant as much to Cabot as the center-quarterback exchange.

Morris and Craig both bobbled snaps, with Black roaring, “He’s down, he’s down,” each time. The two also had to make an undignified bear crawl to the sidelines as punishment after each mishap.

“We’re looking at a lot of people,” Black said. “We went two complete groups, and that first group, we rotated in three more kids. So basically, we looked at 11 kids in that first group.

“In the second group, we rotated in the whole time. Offense wise, we went with two huddles. So we looked at two different quarterbacks, and we had five different receivers in each group.”

The matchup between Cabot and North Pulaski began with both teams throwing interceptions early in a drive. The Falcons had several incompletions but came up big with a 25-yard pass play on fourth and 10 that put them on the 5-yard line.

But the Panther defense was strong deep in the red zone and forced the Falcons to squander their first down on a no-throw time limit, then Cabot batted away the second-down pass before North Pulaski receivers dropped the next two attempts.

Black, head coach Mike Malham and the rest of the staff have a pretty good idea of who is capable of what at this point, but Black said there are still roles on the team to be filled with improvement over the summer.

“We did that in spring ball,” Black said. “So basically, we’re looking for the next three or four, somebody to really step up. And that could change, even in August. Spring ball helps us size up, but with 7-on-7, we’re looking for people to get the job done.”