Tuesday, October 02, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers battling injuries, Bombers

Leader sports editor

An injury depleted Cabot football team got out of Marion with a 26-12 victory, and comes home to face the Mountain Home Bombers this week for homecoming. The Bombers are just 1-4 this season, but is near the top of the league in points scored per game. They are averaging over 31 points per game and that kind of offensive efficiency is enough to concern head Panther Mike Malham, especially given the injuries that has plagued his secondary this year.

The Panthers have lost four defensive backs this season, but could have two of them back for homecoming if everything goes well.

Colby Ferguson is able to play but is still slowed a bit by a bad ankle. Chris Luna, who was a projected starter before breaking his ankle just before the start of the season, could be back by next week.

“We’re getting healthier,” Malham said. “We could get Luna back, but we’re not going to rush it. Colby played a little for us last week on that bad ankle, but he’s not 100 percent.”

Cabot played last week without starting quarterback Kason Kimbrell, who suffered a broken bone in his foot. His backup Grant Bell, was injured getting some repetitions at cornerback in a JV game due to the other injuries at that position. That left starting tight end Brandon Boatright to take over at quarterback. Boatright played quarterback as a sophomore and filled in well.

“Boatright did a really good job at quarterback,” Malham said. “He ran the option really well. He went 4 for 4 passing so you can’t beat that. And he had about 80 yards rushing. We ran the option a lot. He probably kept for about 10 carries. He was making good decisions and running pretty well.”

Starting fullback Zach Launius went out with an elbow injury in the first quarter. Kyle Edgar moved from halfback to fullback, where he had also played this season. Starting halfback Russ Rankin also went down with a back and hip injury. Max Carroll and Chris Henry stepped in to play halfback.

“All those guys have played all year and could be called starters,” Malham said. “We had pretty good depth there so we’re not hurt that bad at running back. We just can’t get any more hurt or then we’ll be in trouble.”

Blake Gibson filled in at tight end for Boatright. That was another case of a starter taking over for a starter.

“Gibson had been playing every position on the line, giving somebody a break every series,” Malham said. “He just stepped right in and started at tight end for us so we didn’t miss a beat there either.”

Kimbrell is in a similar situation as Ferguson. He could play this week if needed, but the plan for now is to stick with Boatright.

“Kimbrell is not quite full speed and it’s hard to run the option if you’re not full speed,” Malham said.

With the depth chart figured out, Malham turns his attention to Mountain Home.

“You can’t take anybody for granted,” Malham said. “They’ve had some trouble stopping people, but they’re scoring a bunch of points. They scored 40-something on Harrison. They just scored 41 on Searcy, 31 on Parkview. Their quarterback is a real good runner. The defense is going to have to play well. Plus we have homecoming this week so there are going to be those distractions. I’m not expecting an easy game.”

Mountain Home has only beaten Cabot once in school history, but it was the last time the two teams met in 2004.

“They beat us here the last time we played in the old five-classification format,” Malham said. “Of course we went 1-9 that year so there were a lot of teams that got a little revenge that last time around.”