Friday, May 17, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Defense controls rough scrimmage

Leader sports editor

Spring football practice took on a decidedly physical tone for the Cabot Panthers on Thursday. In about an hour of indoor scrimmaging, the Panther defense distributed several big blows and left several offensive starters needing respite on three occasions.

“The defense was dishing out some pretty good blows out there today,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “We feel like we have a chance to have a pretty good defense this year, if we can keep everybody healthy. We don’t have a lot of depth, but we’ve got some good size and we’re going to have probably more speed on defense than we’ve had in a long time.”

Junior Jake Ferguson, who was named by one publication as the sophomore of the year last season as a cornerback, has spent the whole spring working on offense. He has put in work at quarterback, halfback and wide receiver.

With last year’s starting quarterback Kason Kimbrell missing the first week of spring practice while playing baseball, Ferguson worked with Grant Bell at quarterback. He has been very impressive at receiver, but Malham says he’ll still be a full-time defensive player.

“He’s just an athlete,” Malham said. “He’s going to be back on defense, but we’re working him at different spots on offense just to have him ready if something happens and we need him. And he’s looked pretty good everywhere we’ve put him.”

While the defense controlled most of the action in scrimmaging, the offense had its moments. The Panthers ended last season with the expectation of having their entire offensive line returning, but they’ve spent much of spring trying to find two new starters after losing one each to injury and discipline problems.

“That’s hurting us right now because we don’t have a lot of depth anywhere really,” Malham said. “We sure don’t have the kind of size we lost with anybody we’re looking at replacing them with. We just got to keep some people ready and keep going.”

Cabot is going through its 10 spring practices with 60 players, including two sophomores. About 45 more sophomores are expected to join the team for summer workouts and preseason two-a-days in August.

“We’re going to have good overall numbers,” Malham said. “We feel pretty good about the starters we have out there right now, but we’ve got to find some depth. Right now there’s a pretty good drop off from our starters to our backups at most positions.”