Leader Blues

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

SPORTS>>Panthers not looking past winless Central

Leader sportswriter

The fact that Little Rock Central is winless through the first six weeks of the season doesn’t provide much comfort for Mike Malham this week. The head Cabot Panther is still leery about the Tigers.

Cabot (5-1, 2-1 in the 7A Central) will travel to historic Quigley Stadium this week to face a surprisingly 0-6 Little Rock Central. The Tigers were picked as high as second in the league in some preseason polls, but are so far 0-3 in league play.

The Tigers, though, have lost those games by a total of only 25 points. Last week’s 16-0 shutout at the hands of Conway was their biggest loss since beginning their Central Conference schedule.

The Central offense has struggled for the most part with only 39 points to show six weeks into the season. But the defense concerns Malham — that and a recent history lesson from a year ago.

“They’re playing pretty good defense,” Malham said. “They’ve got some good athletes. And if you want to talk about a team not winning a game, I remember a 0-7-1 Pine Bluff team that came in here and beat us last year. So if you think you’re going to get a win just because someone hasn’t won yet, you may be in trouble. You better get ready.”

As far as the Panther defense, last week’s 34-21 score against North Little Rock is actually somewhat misleading. Two of the Wildcats’ scores came in the final two minutes against a prevent defense that Malham admitted may have been a little bit too aggressive.

“They got two quick ones on us,” Malhamsaid. “But I thought that overall we did a pretty good job on defense. They defended the pass well, which is something we’re going to have to do well if we get to the playoffs. The more good athletes we go up against, the better we’re going to be down the stretch.”

The Wildcats amassed over 400 yards of total offense. However, 155 of those yards came in the final minute-and-a-half frenzy. The Panther ‘D’ also allowed 323 yards passing by NLR quarterback David Hope. Two weeks ago, the Panthers gave up 35 points to Little Rock Catholic in their lone loss.

“We were pleased, but we didn’t do a good job in the last minute,” Malham said.

The Dead-T offensive attack has been on cue the past two weeks. The Panthers had more success on the ground last week, amassing 349 yards of offense, all but eight of which came on rushing plays.

“Our offensive line did a real good job of controlling things,” Malham said. “They (NLR) had only given up four touchdowns in the last five games. They posted a shutout on Texarkana and held Sylvan Hills under a touchdown, so our line did good to control the line of scrimmage the way it did.”

The Rockets stayed on top of the league standings last week with a 47-21 win over Van Buren, but with four more games left, Malham said every point counts.

“If it came down to a three-way tie, it could be important,” Malham said. “You just have to take it one game at a time and put yourself in the best position you can. But if we could win all of the games left by 13 or more, it would definitely help us.”