Leader Blues

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

SPORTS >> Panthers in a must-win situation

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

Cabot is in quite a predicament as it approaches its homecoming game this Friday night against Mountain Home. The Panthers are 1-5 overall, but more importantly are 1-2 in conference play. That record is only good for fifth place in the current AAAAA-East standings. Three teams, including Mountain Home, are tied for first at 3-0, and Jacksonville is 2-1 and in fourth place.

West Memphis and Jacksonville are heavy favorites to win, while Forrest City is slightly less favored to beat Sylvan Hills. That means a Cabot loss would probably put the Panthers two games behind fourth place with only three games remaining.

“It’s tough right now, but there’s still a lot to play for,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “We just need to get it together and win these last four games. If we do that, we’re still looking at a good shot at the three seed at least.”

Cabot suffered a big setback last week when it lost 6-0 to Forrest City. The irony of the loss is that the offense, which has been pretty consistent and productive all season, broke down at key times while the defense, which has struggled mightily against the pass, almost completely shut down Forrest City’s spread offense.
“The defense played well,” Malham said. “When you only give up six points, you should win the ballgame. Just when the defense stepped up, the offense took a break.

“We blew some assignments at key times. We had it down there at the 12 going in and missed an assignment and put it on the ground. We had it again down around the 30 and did the same thing. We didn’t lose them, but we lost a down and it hurt us. We can’t keep doing that.

“We’re still looking to get it all together at the same time.”
It has to happen this week, and Malham and the Panthers know that they can’t afford another loss and a 1-3 league record.

In order to beat the Bombers, Cabot will have to stop Mountain Home’s suddenly potent wishbone attack.
Mountain Home posted the first mercy-rule win in school history last week against Jonesboro.
The Bombers won’t have as much of a speed advantage as some teams have had over the Panthers this year, but they’ve been extremely efficient while winning their last five consecutive games.

“They’re not the fastest team in the world, and they’re not very big,” Malham said.
“Some of the teams we’ve played have really dwarfed us. Mountain Home does have good quickness and they play hard. They’ve found ways to get it done, which is what we’ve got to do.”

Cabot’s injury report is looking a little better than last week. Halfback Raul Gault, who led the team in rushing two previous weeks, is back after missing the Forrest City game with a concussion he suffered in practice.
Fullback Richard Williams is out indefinitely with a knee injury, so Alec Tripp will stay at the fullback spot he filled last week.