Leader Blues

Monday, May 21, 2007

SPORTS >>Cabot enjoys early success from offense

IN SHORT: Good size on the offensive line and quarterback play has led to a productive spring session for the Panther offense.

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

Little changed with personnel for the Cabot Panthers from day one to day four of spring football practice. The Panthers took Friday off and will finish their last day of practice in full pads on Monday. While the players leading the way on day one are still doing so, the coaching staff has seen improvement from the whole team in the way of execution.

As coaches always hope is the case, the team has steadily progressed since day one.

“The players are all about where we were Monday, but they’re learning and doing all right,” Cabot head coach Mike Malham said. “I think they look pretty good and getting a lot done, so we’re pretty pleased with that aspect. We’re going to be young and we’ve still got a long way to go, but they’re learning.”

While little changed with personnel, a little did change. Most changes were due to minor injuries. Sophomore Seth Bloomberg got all the repetitions at quarterback on Thursday. Junior Nathan Byrnes tweaked his knee on Wednesday and was kept out of practice Thursday.

Junior Chris Bayles took over some reps at halfback. ?? James, who started spring drills at halfback, also suffered a minor sting and sat out.

“Bayles looked pretty good running the ball,” Malham said. “He’s not very big. He’s about the same as Carlisle, but they both have decent speed, so I think we’re going to be all right there. We’ve got a little depth at halfback.”

Bloomberg broke some long runs and went the distance a couple of times in scrimmage. The sophomore made good reads and drew praise from the coach, and so did the line that opened the holes.

“Bloomberg looked pretty good,” Malham said. “He made good reads and broke some plays. Burns looked pretty good when he was in there too. Of course our offensive line has got some big guys up there for a change and that sure has helped. It’s a young group and they’ve got a lot to learn, but they’re pretty hard-nosed. The ones up front are pretty good, but there’s not much depth right now. We need some guys to step up and be ready to go in case we get anybody hurt because one injury messes up a lot of things.”

If the offense is dominating the scrimmages, that of course means the defense is struggling, but some of that has to do with injuries and inexperience.

Neither of last year’s starting defensive ends played Thursday. Daniel Hillenburg is nursing an injury. His counterpart at the other end last year moved to Tennessee.

Size also was part of the equation in the offense’s success.

“We’ve got the defense out-sized by far,” Malham said. They’ve got 200-pounders going up against 280-pounders. They’re going to see a lot of that this year, but not really anybody doing what we do. We’re going to see a lot more wide spread stuff, but they’ve still got their work cut out for them. I see some good things on defense. They are getting some things done and making progress. There’s just a lot of sophomores that have all the tools that are just going to have to get ready.”