Leader Blues

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SPORTS >> Panthers, Wolves get in tune

Leader sportswriter

Cabot and Lake Hamilton got the benefits from Monday’s benefit game.

But they also got a scare.

The teams scrimmaged for close to two hours and 30 minutes at Panther Stadium, but at least 20 minutes were spent tending to injured Lake Hamilton senior safety Cab Sanders.

Sanders reportedly suffered a concussion, but the injury looked for a time to be more serious as he lay still on the field while trainers, emergency personnel and paramedics treated him. He was eventually taken away in an ambulance.

Sanders, 5-9, 160 pounds, was hurt attempting a tackle early in Cabot’s third offensive possession. He remained on his back while trainers gave him immediate treatment, followed by Cabot Fire and Rescue personnel and then the paramedics who arrived with the ambulance that took Sanders to Baptist Medical Center in North Little Rock.

Sanders’ face mask was removed while his helmet was left on, and his body was immobilized for transport. But Sanders was moving his hands and feet and was expected to stay at the hospital overnight for observation.

“They’re pretty sure it was a head injury or a concussion which is always scary,” Lake Hamilton coach Jerry Clay said. “I don’t think there was any spinal thing. It’s always a precaution. Anytime you have a head injury these days they’re going to immobilize him.”

In a game set up to help both teams, the coaches agreed the injury was unfortunate and expressed their relief Sanders wasn’t hurt worse.

“You can’t live life wondering if you’re going to get hurt every day,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “That’s part of life. I didn’t really see it. They said that he got his head down a little bit and a knee caught him. But he was moving everything and I think he just had a concussion so, hopefully, there’s nothing wrong there.”

“It’s part of football, I guess. The chance you take,” Clay said.

Outside of Sanders’ injury, both coaches considered the game a success.

The event gave Lake Hamilton, which plays in the 6A-South Conference and has fewer numbers than 7A-Central member
Cabot, a chance to test and evaluate its first team. The game gave Cabot what will probably be its last, in-depth tune-up before Tuesday’s season-opener with Jacksonville.

Cabot has a Red-White game scheduled for Friday, but Malham is expected to hold out or limit his starters because of the televised Tuesday game.

“We got a lot of plays and maybe they grew up a little bit,” Malham said of his players.

Clay said it was good to see offense and defense in a game situation. Lake Hamilton doesn’t have a Cabot-sized roster, and that sometimes makes it hard to gauge progress during practice scrimmages, Clay said.

“As you can see our second team could never give our first team any kind of look,” Clay said. “Just like we weren’t giving Cabot’s second team a look. It was a complete mismatch when our second team went against their second team. We haven’t been able to run defense because our second team offense is so weak. We couldn’t put in a scout team.”

The teams alternated 15-play possessions but the count did not include punts and field goals.

The scoreboard was used to keep tack of each team’s plays, but if it had counted points it would have shown a 44-36 Cabot victory thanks to the final Red Zone segment in which Spencer Smith, Spencer Neumann and Hunter Sales all scored on short runs.

Lake Hamilton opened the game with a drive capped by Jordan Brown’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Rains. The Wolves added an 18-yard field goal by Brett Miller before using up their first 15-play allotment.

Cabot scored when Seth Bloomberg hit Matt Sayles for a 39-yard catch and run. Lake Hamilton used all of its next 15 plays to get a 1-yard touchdown run out of Chris Jones, then Cabot came back with a 4-yard scoring run by Jeremy Berry.

Perhaps the most impressive play of the night was the 46-yard field goal Cabot’s Logan Spry kicked with distance to spare at the end of Cabot’s second segment. Spry added 27- and 18-yard field goals on the Panthers’ next two possessions and made all of his extra-point attempts.

“And he’s playing D-back,” Malham said. “I don’t know. I hope we don’t get him hurt at D-back, then we lose a great kicker.

But he runs a 4.5 40 and we kid of like him back in the secondary.”

Rains had a 3-yard touchdown run for Lake Hamilton to wrap up the main body of the scrimmage. Brown ran for one touchdown and passed for another during the Wolves’ Red Zone segment, while both extra-point kicks failed.

Malham was pleased with the Panthers’ overall performance but concerned about some of the big plays made against his defense, like the 36- and 40-yard completions that set up Lake Hamilton touchdowns.

“I just though we’d be sharper, I really did,” Malham said. “We’ve just got a lot of work to do. They do a lot of formations and different looks and we didn’t really practice for this. This was more or less a practice. That’s why I like playing in these, you see a lot of formations so we’ve got to get used to lining up right.”