Tuesday, May 15, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers enjoying largest senior class

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers have about 65 players out for spring practice, and that doesn’t include most of next season’s sophomore class. Standard practice for Cabot is to go through spring drills with just the upcoming junior and senior class, but three freshmen were brought along for spring drills this season. Once summer two-a-days begin and the sophomore class joins in full, it could be one of the largest teams in Cabot’s history.

“This is the largest senior class we’ve ever had,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “We’ve got 65 or so out here right now so we’ll have quite a few.”

There are 35 juniors on the squad for spring practice, but it’s the sophomores that make up the majority of the offense. Six sophomores started or saw significant time on the offensive line last season. They all project to be starters next year. Zach Launius was the team’s fastest player last year as a sophomore, and will be the starting fullback in the upcoming season.

“He’s pretty quick and pretty strong,” Malham said of Launius.

Kason Kimbrell is getting the first-team repetitions at quarterback with William Bell getting the second team reps.

“Kimbrell’s working with the first team but Bell has looked pretty good,” Malham said.

Zach Thompson, who played in the offensive backfield as a junior last year, has spent most of his time this spring working at linebacker. He’s joined by about six other juniors on the starting defensive rotation, as well as several sophomores and one freshman.

“We’ve got three freshmen we brought over,” Malham said. “Jake Ferguson is one of them who’s working with the secondary and he looks pretty good.

“We played a lot of sophomores last year, especially on offense,” Malham said. “They’re all pretty set in their starting positions. The offensive starters are pretty much set for two years.”

Seniors will lead the way on defense, with seven upperclassmen holding starting positions.

“Defensively I think we’re a lot better right now than we were last year,” Malham said. “And that’s a plus because we were bad on defense last year. It got better. We were playing a lot of young guys there too and hopefully that experience will pay dividends for us this year and next year.

The Panthers have scrimmaged a lot this spring, and will finish up spring practice with scrimmages today and tomorrow. Five players have missed one or more practices due to mostly minor injuries and illnesses.

“It’s been pretty good,” Malham said. “They’ve come out and got after it. Got a few a little banged up because they’re going pretty hard.”