Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot faces biggest test against Conway

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers are still unbeaten after two weeks of football, and are 2-0 since all games that at least got started are considered official. The Panthers were ahead of Catholic High 28-7 with seven seconds left in the first half when the game was stopped because of lightning.

They face their toughest test to date this Friday, according to head coach Mike Malham, when they face rival Conway at Panther Stadium.

“I thought Catholic was a little better than Jacksonville and I think Conway is going to be better than Catholic,” Malham said. “Conway scrimmaged North Little Rock and played them pretty even, and everybody knows how talented North Little Rock is. These next two weeks, we’ll really find out if we’re a contender.”

The Panthers’ offense struggled for much of the game against Jacksonville, but the defense shut down the Red Devils’ offense.

It was the opposite against the Rockets. Catholic could not stop Cabot’s offense. The Panthers had four possessions and scored four touchdowns. The Rockets’ offense moved the ball with ease after their first possession.

Turnovers thwarted two Catholic drives; one was an interception in the end zone.

On the final possession of the game, the Rockets were on the Cabot 8-yard line when play was stopped. They did it almost entirely through the air.

“That’s always our big concern – don’t give up the big play and covering the pass,” Malham said. “Catholic did a good job in the second quarter of moving the ball on us. Conway gets guys out in open spaces too and tries to let their athletes make plays. So we’re going to find out how good our defense is.”

Cabot’s offense was nearly perfect. The Panthers gained 283 in one half of play, all on the ground. Junior halfback Max Carroll led the way with three carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

“The offense looked pretty good,” Malham said. “When you score every time you get the ball that’s pretty good. We didn’t have as many missed assignments as we did against Jacksonville. Hopefully we can continue to progress because it just gets tougher. If we can I think we have a chance to be pretty good.”

Jeff Anderson is Conway’s leading rusher. Anderson is a big back with good speed. Anderson is 6-feet, 220 pounds. He’s offset by Duron Brown, who is only 5-6, 170, but has 4.5 speed.

Brandon Cox is the team’s fastest player with a hand-held 40-yard dash time of 4.35 seconds. He’s listed as a receiver, but will frequently take the ball in the backfield.

“They’ve got some speed that gave us trouble last year and they have those guys back,” Malham said. “Like I said, we’ll find out how good our defense is real soon.”

Cabot’s matchup with Conway has also become a big rivalry in recent years, the significance of which Malham does not downplay.

“I think it’s pretty big,” Malham said. “The kids know that and they like to play Conway. Every time Cabot and Conway play, wherever it’s at, the crowd is loud and the stadium is pretty packed. I think both towns kind of enjoy this thing.”