Tuesday, August 03, 2010

SPORTS>>Cabot off and running

Leader sports editor

Now that practice has begun, Cabot is back where it has usually done best — on the ground.

The defending 7A-Central Conference champions opened practice Monday with a turnout of 89, counting three team managers, coach Mike Malham said. After a summer of flinging the ball around in the local 7-on-7 league, Cabot got right to work on its bread-and-butter, Dead-T ground game.

“They’ve been doing weights and running workouts all summer long. We just got the ball back,” Malham said. “Even though we’ve done a little 7-on-7 this summer, it was justbasically back doing team stuff with the ball.”

Malham said 44 sophomores and 42 varsity players reported to comprise a roster of 86 who are actually able to dress and play.

Two of the team managers, Malham said, are injured players.

“We didn’t melt today. We got in and out without anybody going down,” Malham said of the triple-digit temperatures hovering over the state this week.

While the Panthers have been able to condition and work on a little passing this summer, they haven’t been able to really open the playbook until now.

“Offensively, of course, we haven’t had a running play since spring ball,” Malham said. “We’re just trying to get our timing back in shorts, working fundamentals and putting back in our running game.”

On defense, Malham said, Cabot worked on its coverages and “technique stuff.”

Like all other programs, Cabot won’t be able to go in full pads until Thursday as it prepares for the season opener, a reprise of the “Backyard Brawl,” with neighbor Jacksonville at War Memorial Stadium on Aug. 31.

Malham said starting the season on a Tuesday, a few days early, won’t dramatically cut into the Panthers’ preparation time.

“It used to be three weeks and game week and now it’s four weeks of practice and game week,” he said. “You can do anything you want in helmets all year long.”

Cabot was 10-2 last season with a 14-10, last-minute home loss to Springdale Har-Ber in the 7A state semifinals.

The Panthers lost 13 starters from that team, including quarterback Seth Bloomberg. While some might think the Dead T requires the quarterback to simply hand the ball to three others, that isn’t the case.

Timing, misdirection and toughness are required, as the Dead-T quarterback gets his share of carries. And Malham likes to point out the Panthers work on the passing game too; they just prefer to be selective about when they break it out.

Malham said the competition for Bloomberg’s replacement is still among juniors Zach Craig and Bryson Morris and senior Zach Brown.

“We’re still working the same three we worked in the spring,” Malham said. “Two of them figure more in the secondary so, all things equal, Craig doesn’t figure in the secondary as much so that might give him the edge.

“There’s not a lot of difference between them.”

Cabot will continue to hold two-a-days until classes begin Aug. 19. Picture/media is scheduled for that day, and the Panthers will scrimmage Lake Hamilton on Aug. 23 at a site to be determined, and will play their Red/White game on Aug. 27.