Friday, May 29, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot expects good team

Leader sports editor

The Cabot football team closed spring football practice with a lively intrasquad scrimmage Thursday afternoon at Panther Stadium. After nine workouts, Cabot coach Mike Malham has high hopes for the 2015 season.

“We got a lot accomplished,” said Malham. “You got 14 starters back and three or four more with substantial playing time, there’s 17 with experience. That leaves us three or four holes to fill and we should have a good group. If we don’t contend next year and have a really good season, I’ll be disappointed. Injuries of course will kill us because the depth isn’t there. But if we stay healthy I think this team has the potential to be pretty good.”

Nine starters returning on defense proved the strongest in the early going of Thursday’s scrimmage. The offense couldn’t get into the end zone until the third drive of starters versus starters. The first drive looked good until stalling at around the 20-yard line on a fourth-down attempt. The second drive lasted just a few plays before a tackle in the backfield led to a fumble and a defensive recovery.

Some of the offensive struggles likely resulted from the absence of starting quarterback Jarrod Barnes, but Cabot coach Mike Malham is comfortable with backup Jess Reed.

“Reed played quarterback for us the last three games and he did a pretty good job,” Malham said. Jarrod, he’s all right. He just bruised his shoulder and we held him out. No sense in chancing it. He’s looked really good. Only time will tell, but he has the potential to be the best one we’ve ever had here.”

Still, Malham likes his defense and is excited about its potential as well.

“We replace two really good ones,” Malham said. “Losing guys like (Tristan) Bulice and (Jake) Ferguson, that’s a loss right there. And we had (Logan) Melder back there and he was pretty good. But we’ve got about nine back with experience and I’m expecting big things from this defense.”

Two full-time starters in Chris and Austin Jones return on the defensive line. Lino Garcia also earned varsity-starting time in the latter half of the season. Freshman Dayonte Roberts is one of two sophomores who will figure heavily into the system as a sophomore next season.

“He’s a puppy but he’s going to be a good one,” Malham said of Roberts. “He got a little tired today. We’d been working him in slow, playing them six plays and off six. Today we left him in there for about 25 in a row and it wore him out, I think. But he’s talented – about 6-foot-1, 255, so he’s got good size. He’s a strong kid and moves pretty good.

“But we’re working four guys in those three spots and we feel pretty good about all of them.”

One full-time inside linebacker, Easton Seidl, returns after starting his sophomore year. Connor Daigle started at the other inside spot later in the season after departed senior Jack Whisker moved to safety. This spring, Daigle moved to strong safety while Cody Nabors and Trenton Erickson worked at the other ILB.

When the offense did get into the end zone, it was returning starting fullback Kolton Eads who went up the middle for about 12 yards and the score. He ran for more than 1,200 yards last season and has added a little size and strength, according to Malham.

“He’s strong and runs hard. He’s not as fast as some of them we’ve had, but he’s a good runner.”

Reed will work at halfback along with David Morse and Braxton Burton. The other freshman that worked with the first string in spring was Adam Flores, and he has played halfback and fullback.

“We brought him up at the end last year,” Malham said. “He’s another little (Zach) Launius type guy. He’s small but he’s fast and he’s tough to bring down. He’s going to be a good one.”

Four offensive linemen return from last year. Cameron Eide is back at center. Hunter Wood returns at right tackle and Antonio Polacios returns at left guard.

“We got Eide back, all 5-7, 160 pounds of him,” Malham said. “And we got all of Woods’ 5-6, 200 back. Polacios is the big one at about 5-11, 250. It’s not going to be a very big line but they look pretty good.”

Jack Teague played tight end last year when they went two tight. Brock Bottorf figures in as the other tight end. Luke Ferguson and Jessie George are working at the other tackle position while Peyton Glisson is working at guard and tackle. When lining up one tight and one wide, Sawyer Stalnaker has been the split end.

“Stalnaker is a basketball player who came out this year,” Malham said. “He’s not real fast but he’s got good hands. Right now that’s who we’re working out there, but we can always bring over a D-back if we have to.”