Tuesday, September 30, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Struggling Patriots to host Cabot

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers got a lot of bumps and bruises in a very physical game last week, but should have a good opponent in front them for nursing injuries. Last week’s very physical matchup with Class 7A powerhouse North Little Rock left several Panthers with minor bumps and bruises, and the winless Marion Patriots could provide an opportunity to get some of those starters off the field quickly in this week’s 7 p.m. matchup in Crittenden County.

That provided the Cabot starters get the game in hand safely enough to turn it over to the backups.

“You can’t take anybody for granted,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “Hopefully we’ll have a chance to play quite a few people, but we have to go out there and take care of business or we might not have that chance.”

The Patriots are under the direction of first-year coach Jed Davis, a former Beebe assistant under Cam Prock who helped turn the Mayflower program around. But the spread attack hasn’t taken well so far in Marion, which had run the Diamond T for several years under Don Campbell protégé and longtime head coach Mark Uhiren.

Marion has only scored 31 points all season, and 24 came in a week-two loss to Class 5A Nettleton. The Patriots haven’t scored since then, losing 41-0 to Class 7A rival West Memphis and 51-0 to Class 5A Blytheville.

Defensively, they have allowed 53 points per game, with more than two-thirds of that total given up in the first half.

“They haven’t really done a lot but it looks like on film they have some good looking athletes running around out there,” Malham said. “We just need to take care of business and get a conference win.”

Two of the players that have not practiced yet this week are starting quarterback Jarrod Barnes, and his backup Jake Ferguson – who is also the starting safety and split end.

Barnes got banged up in the 41-14 loss to North Little Rock while Ferguson has been sick all week.

Both players are questionable and could be back by Friday, but Malham is getting two other quarterbacks ready this week just in case.

“After Jacob we go to (Logan) Melder and then a sophomore named Braxton Burton,” Malham said.

Melder, 6-0, 160, is also a starting cornerback. Burton, 5-3, 128, played briefly during the Panthers’ week-three rout of J.A. Fair.

“I’m thinking Jake will be alright,” Malham said. “Logan will come in after him and probably get some playing time. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to get a lot of guys some playing time. Defensively we should have everybody there.”