Tuesday, September 09, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot hosts Catholic in home game

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers are looking to get their first win of the season in Friday night’s home opener at Panther Stadium, which will be a nonconference matchup against the Little Rock Catholic High Rockets.

Both teams will be looking for their first win as the Panthers and Rockets are each coming off competitive week one games. Cabot lost 24-22 at Conway last Friday and Catholic lost a 17-7 contest to North Little Rock last Thursday.

“They gave North Little Rock all they wanted,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “In fact, they were down 10-7 and North Little Rock scored one late to put it away. They gave them all they wanted. Catholic is always a solid team.

“They’re well-coached. (Catholic coach John) Fogleman does a good job. They’re going to be well-drilled. It’s going to be a tough game.”

Like Cabot, the Rockets return just three starters on offense, but their starting quarterback, Andre Sale (6-2, 205), who was a backup last year, saw some playing time against Cabot in last year’s meeting and had some success against the Panthers’ defense, including a 27-yard touchdown pass.

“Their quarterback threw the ball well,” Malham said. “That first drive against North Little Rock, just precision.”

Catholic will line up in the Spread formation on offense, and a 3-4 on defense. The Rockets, like the Panthers, return six starters on that side of the ball, and they do a good job of swarming to the football.

“They get after it on defense,” Malham said. “They swarm to the ball. They’re well-coached and they just have a lot of kids that look like they like to play football.”

Although disappointed in last week’s loss, Malham said he was pleased with how his youthful team competed against Conway, whom is ranked No. 7 in class 7A.

The Panthers had as many as six sophomores at once in on defense in last Friday’s season opener, and on offense, with nine new starters, Cabot amassed more than 400 yards.

“We’re just going to have to execute and get off the ball,” Malham said. “Get a body on a body and execute. I was pleased with the way we moved the ball. With nine new starters, we had over 400 yards of offense. That’s a great night.

“Getting over 300 is nice and when you get over 350 I feel like you’ve got to win the ball game.”

Not all of Cabot’s yards came on the ground, either. Sophomore quarterback, Jarrod Barnes, completed 13 of 18 passes, and 12 of those passes were caught by senior wideout Jake Ferguson. Malham said they’ll keep throwing it if the opportunity presents itself on Friday.

“Jarrod threw it real well,” Malham said. “Ferguson caught 12 of them. We threw it a little more because we can. I think we had maybe one three-and-out the whole night. The rest of the time we moved it pretty good.”

Even with the success the Panthers had against Conway, the head coach says his team made plenty of mistakes that will need to be corrected in order to give itself a chance to beat Catholic on Friday.

“We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times,” Malham said. “We made some foolish mistakes, but that’s going to happen.

“They kept hustling. They didn’t quit. So I feel like before it’s all said and done, when these kids get a little experience, it’s going to be a good group.”