Tuesday, July 19, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Defensive players stand out in third Cabot 7-on-7 meet

Leader sportswriter

Cabot hosted its third of five 7-on-7 meets Monday afternoon at Panther Stadium, and the hosts continued to make plays on the offensive side of the ball, but some Panther defensive players also stood out.

None of the six teams competing Monday played perfectly, which can be expected this early in the 100 degree summer heat, but plays were made and some players on the Cabot defensive side of the ball have emerged as potential playmakers heading into fall practice next month.

“The kid that’s really sticking out to me is the Nickell kid (Spencer Nickell) at weak-side end,” said Cabot defensive coordinator Randy Black. “He’s doing a pretty good job. It’s a brand new position for him. He was a D-back last year – great kid, does everything you tell him to do, he’s working and he’s learning.”

Nickell had a nice highlight toward the end of the day, snagging an interception on J.A. Fair’s second-to-last offensive drive. Black has also been pleased with what he’s seen from his starting linebackers.

“The starting linebackers are solid,” Black said, “(Justin) Nabors and (Easton) Seidl. They’re real smart and, of course, Seidl is a three-year starter.”

Nabors, who broke his collarbone in the first game of the season last year against Conway, grabbed three interceptions Monday. Since the Panther coaching staff moved some defensive backs from a year ago to the front seven, these 7-on-7 meets are a good way for the Cabot defensive backs to show what they can do in coverage.

“We’ve got Kale Eddington back from last year, which is solid,” Black said. “Of course, we lost (Connor) Daigle during spring ball (to injury). We’re hoping he’ll be back in time for conference play. (Austin) Swackhammer, who played a lot last year, he’s doing good.

“The spot that we’re really trying to fill is our free safety spot. Evan Hooper, we’re really looking at him hard there. He hasn’t played in the last couple of years, but he’s got some skills.

“The 7-on-7 thing is basically where you’re working on fundamentals, because we see so much passing during the year. I’m pleased with the outcome so far.”

Cabot’s offense looked pretty crisp as well. Quarterback Jarrod Barnes continues to look more and more comfortable in what will be his third year as the starter. He made several nice passes, and his receivers, in turn, made several nice catches.

Barnes’ favorite target Monday was senior running back Austin Morse.

Morse was just one of several Cabot skill players, though, that contributed to the Panther offense’s success.

Lonoke coach Doug Bost thought his team showed a lot of progress at last week’s 7-on-7 meet, but the Jackrabbits didn’t have the same effort and energy at Monday’s meet, according to the head Jackrabbit.

“We came out here last week and I thought we looked great,” said Bost, “and today, we were kind of just going through the motions today. So no, I wasn’t happy with the effort.

“Did we do some good things, yeah, we did. But we’re not where we need to be, and we didn’t have the same energy and effort that we had out here last week.”

Most of Lonoke’s highlights Monday were on the offensive side of the ball. The Jackrabbits didn’t score on their first two drives against Cabot, but found the end zone on the third drive with a Logan Dozier pass to Isaac Toney on a 20-yard pass near the left hash mark.

Dozier then found Braidon Bryant in the back corner of the end zone for the 2-point conversion. Against Fair, Dozier connected with Bryant for a 30-yard score on the first Jackrabbit drive, and Bryant again caught the 2-point conversion.

The next big play for Lonoke was a Daniel Seigrist catch and run for a touchdown. Seigrist caught Dozier’s pass near the sideline, and outran the War Eagle secondary about 15 yards to the end zone. Again, Bryant caught the 2-point try.

The fourth of five 7-on-7 meets at Cabot High School will be today at 4 p.m.