Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

SPORTS >>Panthers shocked, making changes

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

Cabot was a little “shocked” walking off the field last Friday night at Conway. That was the word used by head coach Mike Malham. The Panthers had just suffered their first loss of the season, but it was the conference opener and left the team 3-1, but 0-1 in league play.

The next six games are just as important as that first one, and it starts when Little Rock Catholic visits Panther Stadium this Friday for week two of 7A-Central play.

Cabot is planning to make some changes in the near future in hopes of righting the wrongs that were committed last week.
The first line of business is a decision no coaching staff wants to make, but one that Malham and staff feels is necessary.
“We’re probably going to have to make some changes,” Malham said. “We’re going to have to go back to playing some kids both ways to get some athletes back there in the secondary. They made us look slow.”

The most obvious move is that of halfback Colin Fuller. Fuller played both ways last year and started this season expecting to be on offense and defense. Cabot went with two platoons for Sylvan Hills, Searcy and Conway, but Fuller and a few teammates on offense will join him on defense this week against Catholic.

Quarterback Cory Wade and tight end Josh Clem will also play several downs on defense. Those changes are certain, others could follow. “We’ve got to stop giving up the big plays,” Malham said. “That’s what killed us the most. That fullback had a good game, but it was the long passes that burned us most of the time. They’ve got some good athletes out there, and the guys we had covering them couldn’t keep up some of the time.”

The Rockets don’t possess the same athleticism as the Wampus Cats, but they have some good runners. The best weapon in the Rocket offensive arsenal is running back LaNorris Dukes. Cabot’s defensive plan for this week starts with him.

“He’s a good back, and we he gets loose he can motor,” Malham said. “I don’t think he’s as quick as that No. 3 (Isaiah Jackson of Conway) but he can break tackles and run away from you if you let him.”

Catholic has a pair of reliable receivers and solid quarterback in ??. TheRockets run multiple formations and are equally dangerous in each. But Malham expects a lot of LaNorris Dukes.

“They’re getting back to running it more than anything else,” Malham said. “The Dukes kid is good, and that quarterback is a good hand. He can throw it too, but he’s pretty fast. They’ve got a few kids that can run a little bit, just like we do.”
An important factor for any team coming off its first loss in week four is its ability to regroup. After one day of practice, Malham said Tuesday morning that he feels the team will be fine.

“I think it shocked ‘em a little bit, but I think the kids are going to bounce back,” Malham said. “We just didn’t play as well as we could I thought. I don’t really know what the problem was, but they didn’t like it. They should bounce back.”