Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SPORTS >> Cabot faces talented, erratic Rockets

Leader sports editor

Sometimes an unpredictable opponent is harder to prepare for than one you know will be good. The Cabot Panthers try to get things back on track when they travel to War Memorial Stadium to take on a Catholic High team that has looked like world beaters at times, and inexplicably bad at other times. The Panthers haven’t enjoyed a win since week one, and faces a Rocket team that has had its own ups and downs so far this year.

The Rockets are 2-2 and like Cabot, 0-1 in conference play. They opened the season with a 38-10 win over Springdale, then lost a non-conference game against North Little Rock 20-13.

Next was a 62-31 win over Fort Smith Northside, then a loss last week in the conference opener 35-25 to Bryant.

Despite the erratic season, Cabot coach Mike Malham sees a team full of weapons when he looks at film of Catholic High.

He starts with quarterback Zach Conque when talking about the Rockets.

“He runs that spread and he does a good job of putting the ball in the air,” Malham said. “He’s got those big, tall receivers and they’ve been very efficient offensively this year. They can score.”

Defensively Cabot hasn’t been able to stop the passing game so far this season. Malhan goes back to the youth in his team’s secondary.

“Right now we don’t match up,” Malham said. “We’re playing so many young kids and certainly shows.”

On offense Cabot continued to move the ball last week despite only scoring seven points. Just like in the previous week, mistakes cost the team a bundle of potential points. Just like against Har-Ber, a pitchback went awry inside the red zone.

On another drive inside the Conway 20 there was an interception. Later, there was a 4-yard loss from inside the 1-yard line that thwarted a scoring opportunity.

“We’re just not doing the little things right right now,” Malham said. “We’ve moved the ball every week. We’ve had first downs, lots of yardage, just not any points. We’re not capitalizing when we have the opportunity. You get down to the one-foot line and then turn somebody loose and get a big loss. We just have stop making those mistakes.”

It’s not just the defensive secondary where the sophomores are prevalent. There are four starting on the offensive line, and five playing considerable minutes.

Defensively and offensively though, Malham likes the class of 2014.

“These kids are going to grow up,” Malham said. It’s a good class. We’re playing about 10 of them right now and that’s because they’re the best we have. When they get older they’re going to be really good.”