Friday, August 05, 2011

SPORTS>>Malham impressed

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers suited up in full pads for the first time on Thursday and went through some spirited hitting drills. The team didn’t do any full scrimmaging until the Friday afternoon session, but head Panther Mike Malham was pleased with the intensity the team showed when it finally was able to make some contact.

“The kids were hitting pretty good,” Malham said. “You know they always are. If you’re not excited about the first day of pads, you probably don’t need to be out here.”

The Panthers are an extremely young team this year, with only 13 seniors and 41 sophomores, the rest of the 84 being juniors. That can mean some uncertainty for coaches as it pertains to how the team will work, focus and execute. So far, this young Panther squad has done well.

“Everything is going good,” Malham said. “There’s a pretty good attitude out there; they’re willing to work and learn. When you only have three or four back on both sides of the ball, you got a lot of inexperience out there. We still got a lot to learn and a lot of work to do to get there. But things are going about as good as can be expected.”

One of the high points of practice so far is the play of experienced quarterback Zack Craig, who is one of the returning starters. Craig led Cabot’s high-scoring offense all year last year before going down to injury in the final week of the season.

He’s back this year and having a strong preseason.

“Zach is looking good,” Malham said. “We’re counting on him to have a big year for us. He’s executing well and just having an all around good summer.”

Handling fullback duties, the focal point of Cabot’s Dead T offense, is junior Ian Thompson. He’s been at the top of the two-deep since spring and has performed well.

“He came out of spring looking pretty good,” Malham said. “We hadn’t really had any real liveaction for him, so we’re anxious to see how that goes. But he’s looking pretty good.”

Cabot is fairly deep at the position. After the two deep, Malham says there are a couple of good athletes on the defensive side who could step in and perform well if needed.

“We’ve got some athletes over there, but we’re going to leave ‘em there if we can. We really want to two-platoon everybody if at all possible.”

The heat hasn’t had a major negative impact on Cabot practices. There are a couple of starters sitting out practice at the moment with minor injuries, but nothing major enough to affect the depth chart.