Tuesday, August 11, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers don pads

Leader sports editor

A good first week of practice was followed by a good first day in pads for the Cabot football team. The Panthers went full contact for the first time Saturday morning, and closed practice with a lengthy and lively session of blood alley. That upbeat practice didn’t carry over on Monday after a day off.

“Oh it was hot and some of them were feeling sorry for themselves,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “I was kind of disappointed in their work ethic this summer, in some of the seniors. But we’re back on the road now. We’ve got three weeks to get them ready. I think we’re headed in the right direction, though. I think we got their attention today.”

The Panthers scrimmaged for the first time on Monday, ending practice with a 25-minute session of first offense against first defense. The defense dominated most of it, with the offense breaking a couple of plays, but the offense only ran its most basic plays.

Defensive coordinator Randall Black liked what he saw from his group, for the most part.

“I think we looked really good early, but then it looked like we got a little tired,” said Black. “They broke a few on us later on. That’s when you find out how good you are, when everybody’s tired. So that’s something we’re going to have to work on.”

The Panthers aren’t very deep on the lines and has already lost one returning starter. Defensive end Bryce Crockom suffered a knee injury during offensive practice when he ran into the field house wall while attempting to catch a wayward pass.

“It was just a freak accident,” Malham said. “We’ve never seen that happen before.”

Crockom is expected to miss four to six weeks, but should be back by the time conference play begins in week four of the season.

Crockom’s absence caused a shakeup in Cabot’s lineup. Returning starting fullback Kolton Eads moved to defense for Monday’s scrimmage, while newcomer Alex Roberts handled most of the work at fullback.

“We lost Crockam so Eads might have to play defense,” Malham said. “And he looks pretty good over there. He can run and he’ll hit you. And this new kid, (Roberts) he’s a lot like (2013 2,000-yard rusher Zach) Launius. He sees it. At first he wanted to dance around back there, but he’s got to where he’s hitting it up in there. We ran some blood alley on Saturday and he was hard to bring down. I think he could end up being really good. So we got Kolton and we got him. They’re two different kinds of backs so we feel pretty good about fullback.”

Most of the big plays the offense broke on Monday were carries by Roberts. David Morse had a few good carries on the halfback dive. The middle trap to the fullback and the dive were about the only plays the offense ran, so the defense had the advantage of having a good idea of what’s coming. Still, other than those few plays, it stuffed nearly every play.

“We didn’t run anything fancy, just base block and didn’t run anything outside,” Malham said. “We broke a few. They stuffed a few. We’re just trying to get that senior offensive line in gear. We really don’t have a lot of choices there. We don’t have much depth. Most of our backups are defensive linemen and we don’t want that happening. We’re just thin. We’re thin everywhere. But if we can avoid injuries, we’ve got some football players out here. And I think we’re going to have a chance to be pretty good.”