Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

SPORTS>>Panthers out in record numbers for first day

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

More Cabot Panthers turned out for the first day of two-a-days than ever before Monday morning. A total of 87 were dressed out and on the practice field, with about 82 of those going full speed. Four Panthers sat out the first few days and another, Ethan Coffee, hobbled his way through practice with an injured foot.

One of the best things about the 87 on day one was that all of them returned for day two.

Cabot head coach Mike Malham likes the numbers he sees, and doesn’t see much turnover in the future.

“I think we’ll have over 80 when it’s all said and done,” Malham said. “That’ll be the most we’ve ever had. Eighty-seven is the most we’ve had on the first day, and they came in here and gave a pretty good effort.”

A vast majority of the group is underclassmen. Only 17 seniors are on the preseason roster. That small group is leading the way and setting the example for 30 juniors and 40 sophomores. The junior class will dominate the starting lineup, along with a handful of seniors and a couple of sophomores filling roles.

“We’re going to be young, but athletically I think we’re going to be alright,” Malham said. “We’ve got some pretty good speed this year, average anyway. We’ve been downright slow the last few years, we’re back up to at least average speed now.”

Just off the top of his head, Malham named four Panthers than ran better than a 4.7 40-yard dash. The fastest Cabot player is Chris Bayless, who timed about 4.5 in the spring. Casey Carlisle, Michael James and Joseph Bryant came in around 4.6. Returning starting fullback Vince Aguilar timed in around 4.7, but he’s one of the few that hasn’t participated in practice. Aguilar is still nursing a knee injury he suffered in the spring, but could be ready to go before the season starts.

“He was looking really good in the spring,” Malham said of Aguilar. “He’s lost a little weight and gotten stronger and was running it pretty good.”

The team has been on its toes for the first two days, but that has been in shorts instead of pads. Malham has liked the effort he’s seen so far, but is withholding his evaluation in that area for the end of the week. Teams will begin full pad practice on Thursday.

“We’ve looked good for a day-and-a-half in shorts,” Malham said after Tuesday morning’s practice. “We’ll see how they look at the end of the week when they’re tired and carrying the pads.”