Leader Blues

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

SPORTS >> Cabot’s path gets no easier

Leader sports editor

Mike Malham at first sounded a little under the weather.

It turns out the Cabot Panthers coach was just feeling a little under the gun.

“Oh I’m fine,” Malham said by phone on Monday. “I just got North Little Rock now that I got to worry about.”

Fresh off their toughest game to date, a 21-16 victory over Little Rock Catholic, the No. 2 Panthers must now travel to No. 4 North Little Rock in another battle to remain undefeated and stay on pace for a 7A-Central Conference title at Charging Wildcat Stadium.

“There’s a three-way tie at the top; I know that,” Malham said of the snarl that also includes Bryant. “We’re playing one of them. Either us or North Little Rock is going to be in second place after Friday. It’s a big game.”

At War Memorial Stadium last week, Catholic forced Cabot (5-0, 2-0) into three punts, turned in a fourth-down stop, picked off two passes and held the Panthers to Logan Spry field goals twice after Cabot gained good field position.

“I think we punted more times the first half than we had all season,” Malham said. “We had a couple good breaks and we only got three points. The defense set us up on the 20-yard line, three plays and a field goal.”

Malham expects the same kind of trouble with the Charging Wildcats (4-1, 2-0) on Friday.

“They’ve got some of the best athletes in the state,” he said, and singled out returning all-conference receiver Devonta Rich.

“They like to go deep on the long ball and they’ve got a good receiver out there.”

Malham said the keys are to stop the run, avoid giving up the long pass and make the Wildcats earn their way down the field.

“If you make them go that 10- or 15-play drive, sometimes they’re going to make a mistake in there sooner or later,” Malham said.

On offense, Cabot wants to mount some sustained drives of its own to keep North Little Rock’s explosive offense off the field.

“Basically that’s our game plan, game in and game out,” Malham said.

Run-oriented Cabot is coming off its most prolific passing night, with Seth Bloomberg throwing for 129 yards and hitting tight end Rod Quinn with first-down completions of 23 and 29 yards on the scoring drive that made it 18-8 in the second half.