Tuesday, August 06, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot D could be good

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers officially got football practice underway on Monday, but like most other teams, they had worked out all summer.

The days of players showing up for the first time in two months in early August are over. The defense was particularly busy this summer, adding a series of 7-on-7 meets to its mandatory 10 workouts. Cabot defensive coordinator Randy Black enters two-a-days with a good idea of who his workhorses will be.

“It’s not like the old days when you get here the first week of August and have to start over with the basics,” Black said. “We’ve worked through the summer and we have a lot of guys coming back with some experience. I think we have a chance to be pretty good.”

The team’s leading tackler is back at linebacker Jake Vaughan, and there are returning starters throughout the secondary. What Black believes could move the 2013 defense from good to great is senior leadership.

“We’ve got players this year and we’ve got experience at almost every position,” Black said. “What I’d really like to see is our seniors stepping up and taking on more of a leadership role. If someone is loafing, I’d like to see the seniors get on them instead of a coach. We’ve got some sophomores who can play, but they don’t necessarily know what it takes. I’d like to see my seniors pick it up and give just a little bit more. I want to see them give everything.”

Nearly every position has at least one solid starter and Black feels good about multiple players in some spots. But there is one position that’s still unsettled on the Panther defense.

“The strong side defensive end is completely wide open,” Black said. “I’ve got three or four fighting for that spot right now. Peyton Barger is one that’s looking pretty good but he doesn’t have it locked up by any means. Pretty much everywhere else, we’ve either got starters back or guys that played quite a bit.”

Even with the summer workouts, Black said there were some players struggling to complete the 200-yard sprints that closed practice on Monday.

“It’s a different kind of workout when we get started in August,” Black said. “The stuff we do during summer is just to maintain where we got through spring. We’re getting in game shape now so it’s a little different. It’s a little harder. Six 200-yard sprints is pretty hard, and that’s where I’m needing those seniors to step up and be that example of giving it 100 percent. I think I’ve got a few that could give a little bit more.”

Black mentioned some of the best leaders he’s coached in his 26-years at CHS.

“John Baker on that championship team is what you want,” Black said. “He wasn’t the best athlete we ever had, but he made people around him better. Steven Owen came in right after him and was the same way. Spencer Neumann was like that too. In fact, Owen had the career tackles record here until Neumann got him. Those guys demanded a lot of themselves and others. And that’s what we’re looking for from these seniors this year.”