Tuesday, August 24, 2010

SPORTS>>Cabot red-zone ready

Leader sports editor

There were big plays on both sides but Cabot coach Mike Malham didn’t inject much drama into his analysis of Monday’s scrimmage at Lake Hamilton.

“I didn’t see anything too bad but I didn’t see anything too great,” Malham said.

It was Cabot’s only scrimmage before it opens the season Tuesday against Jacksonville at War Memorial Stadium. The Panthers have their Red/White game Friday night but Malham has already said he will hold his starters out.

Against Lake Hamilton, a perennial 6A state playoff contender, Malham was especially pleased with how his 7A Panthers performed in the three red-zone series that ended the scrimmage. Cabot scored all three times from inside the 20.

“Offensively, I thought we got better as we went on,” he said.

It was the first look against competition Malham had at new quarterback Zach Craig, who worked with the first unit. Malham was pleased with Craig’s performance, though he was disappointed in a fumble that came when Craig was stripped on an option play that may have cost Cabot a touchdown.

“We did have a couple of turnovers, and that’s always not good,” Malham said.

The turnover forced Cabot to start over at the 20 in the scrimmage format, which allows each team a set number of offensive plays, and the Panthers drove to the 2 before facing a third down on their last play.

The receiver was stopped at the goal line on a short pass.

“I don’t know, overall, it wasn’t bad,” Malham said. “We’ve still got some strides to make, a lot of mistakes, which is to be expected.”

Malham was satisfied with a key component of the Dead-T offense, his starting running-back rotation of Jeremy Berry, Spencer Smith, Mason James and Mason Haley.

On defense, Malham was happy with the run support and the secondary’s performance, outside of a few big completions.

“We played the run pretty good,” Malham said. “The secondary had, I think, three interceptions, but they hit a couple over the top, just things that shouldn’t happen. They’re going to complete some passes but over the top, that’s inexcusable.”

The biggest defensive miscue came when Lake Hamilton was down to its last play and Cabot gave up a long catch and run for a touchdown.

“Their first offense had 15 plays and they scored in three plays,” Malham said. “And I think they ended up with one play left, two yards to go, we had a D-back bite on an out and up and that’s not really smart when you know they’ve only got one play, and they ended up scoring on their last play.”

Malham has been worried about his team’s depth in a number of areas, but didn’t have much criticism for his second-team offense led by backup quarterback Bryson Morris.

“Our seconds probably beat their seconds,” Malham said. “Firsts, I thought, was pretty even.”

The season opener with 6A Jacksonville is a non-conference game, followed by a non-conference road game at Pulaski Academy and then the home opener against Springdale Har-Ber, which knocked the Panthers out of the 7A state semifinals last season.