Leader Blues

Thursday, August 18, 2005

SPORTS >> Panthers getting over injury bug

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers continue to suffer through more injuries. The latest casualty comes at the nose-guard position, continuing a saga of soap-opera drama that has plagued the Panthers this preseason.
Cabot has yet to practice at 100-percent full strength, and the Arkansas Activities Association benefit scrimmage game with Lake Hamilton looms this coming Monday.

The Panthers would like to avoid the same result as last year’s trip to Pearcy.
The Wolves dominated every aspect of the practice game.

What that game did was reveal several areas the Panthers needed to improve before the season opener, and it did just that, recovering to dominate Conway in the Diamond Bank Bowl.

This year is different. The Panther coaching staff already has a good working knowledge of strengths and weaknesses, with much of the weakness centered around inexperience.

Lack of depth due to injuries is the main cause of the inexperience on the offensive side of the ball.
If everyone left stays healthy, there will be three brand- new starters on the offensive line. Jason Aist started on defense last year, but has moved to the tight-end position and could play both ways.

Clayton Goshiens’ move to the backfield opened up a spot at left guard, and another of last year’s starters quit the team before two-a-days began.

Sean Trammel got back just in the nick of time at left guard. He’s been out with a back injury and Thomas Hurst has played well in his absence, but Hurst suffered a stinger in his neck and is out for two weeks.

“Trammel is who we penciled in there when we moved Goshien, so it’s good he’s back. That’s where he’s going to play for now, if he moves we have a sophomore that’s looking pretty good if we can’t get Hurst back.”
Other offensive linemen have suffered injuries and missed practice, but came back this week.

The offensive backfield will see a new face at fullback. After Goshien went down with his season-ending knee injury, Richard Williams, who played the position in the spring, stepped back in to the Dead T’s featured position.

On the defensive side, some sophomores that Cabot coach Mike Malham says have been looking good, are stepping up more and more.
Malham said last week that several sophomores have played well early on in the defensive backfield.
The Keddy kid (Shane) and Chris Blundel will probably play some at cornerback,” Malham said.
“Keddy is working with the second team and will probably be on the field, but Blundel is starting. Right now him and Josh Clem will be the starters back there.”

He also mentioned Jacob Hammonds and Trent Rigdon spelling the starters at the safety position.
Malham has been particularly concerned with the injury problems because of the odd time and place of the Panthers’ season opener against rival Conway.

We’re going to have to have 22 players ready for that game,” Malham said.
“You just can’t expect a kid to both ways at 4:30 in afternoon in August at War Memorial Stadium.
“It’s hot enough as it is and that artificial turf makes it even hotter. We’re going to have to find some people that are ready to go.”