Friday, August 17, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Panther transfer good fit for team

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers wrapped up their final week of practice before finally getting on the field with another team. Cabot travels to Pearcy to take on Lake Hamilton in an Arkansas Activities Association benefit game on Monday. The Panthers have a newcomer to the team this year in senior running back Kyle Edgar. Edgar transferred to Cabot from Bitburg Air Force Base in Bitburg, Germany, where he’s spent the last three years playing American football against high school teams from other American military bases in Europe. He projects as one of the starters in the offensive backfield. Cabot coach Mike Malham has used him as a halfback and fullback and he’s looked good at both positions.

“We feel like we’ve got about five pretty good running backs for those three positions,” Malham said. “Edgar is a good player and he’s going to figure into it. Right now we’re using him a little more at halfback but he could spend some time at fullback too, spelling Zach (Launius).”

Edgar arrived in Cabot on May 29, so he’s spent the entire summer with the team. Though he had no foundational experience from last year to draw from, he does believe the offense is ticking better now than when he first arrived.

“I think you can see the progress,” Edgar said. “They seemed pretty good even when I first got here. But it feels like we’re playing together a little better now.”

Even though Cabot’s offense isn’t utilized by very many teams, it wasn’t new to Edgar, who played in a similar offense in Germany.

“It was kind of lucky I guess,” Edgar said. “This offense wasn’t used by very many teams in Europe and I think that was an advantage because none of our opponents got to see it very much. So it worked out pretty good for me that we got here and this team sort of does the same thing. It wasn’t much of a transition. It’s not like I had to learn a totally different system.”

Defense was a shortfall for Cabot through much of last season and this year’s squad doesn’t return much experience. Only one returning defensive lineman started last year, but you could’ve fooled Edgar with those facts.

“I didn’t even know they were all new,” Edgar said. “They seemed pretty good to me all along. All I know is that they’re big and they hit hard, so I expect them to be pretty good.”

Malham and the coaching staff also hopes they’re good, and hopes it shows up on Monday. The first sign that the defense may struggle last season was in this same scrimmage game against the Wolves. Lake Hamilton torched Cabot over the top on numerous occasions, and its first team offense moved the ball pretty well.

“We hope it looks a little better than last year,” Malham said. “They lit us up pretty good. I think the defense is playing a little better right now than they were at this time last year, but it’s hard to tell. When you hadn’t gone against anybody but each other for a month, it’s just really hard to tell.”

Score wasn’t kept in last year’s predominantly situational scrimmage, but Lake Hamilton got the ball in the end zone more frequently than Cabot. Malham still left pleased with the overall performance of his offense.

“The offense moved the ball pretty well,” Malham said. “It just took us a little longer to get going than it did them. I feel pretty good about the offense at the moment. But like I said, it’s hard to tell until you’ve gone against somebody else. Lake Hamilton is usually pretty good, so we hope we get a good test and come out looking pretty good.”