Panthers relying on strength
BY DAN MARSH STAFF WRITER
August 28, 2011
LITTLE ROCK The Cabot Panthers will rely on a strong but fairly inexperienced sophomore class to make it to the playoffs in 2011, head coach Mike Malham said.
“We’ve only got 13 seniors this year;
that’sa low number,” he said. “We will count on several talentedsophomores. They’re working hard and looking good, and they’ll be thrown into the mix, but you never how they’re going to react until game time.” The Panthers’ 2010 record was 9-3, and the team tied for first place in the 7A Central Conference with Bryant and Conway.
“I tell these kids that last year’s seniors won it three years in a row, and this year’s have a chance to do it, too. The playoffs are a long way down the road, but the sophomores and juniors have been exposed to a conference championship, and hopefully, they won’t forget how to do it.” Quarterback Zach Craig “looks to have a great year,” Malham said. “He started last year as a junior but did not play in the playoffs due to an injury.” At 6 feet 2 inches and 185 pounds, Craig is “tough to bring down. He was looking like a seasoned quarterback; he throws well if he’s having a good [game]. We’ll be counting on Zach big time.” The sophomore-laden offensive line will “take some time to develop,” Malham said. “We lost eight on offense to graduation.” In addition to Craig, senior tackles Hayden Studdard and David Boatright and halfback Mason Haley will return, “but we’re green on offense otherwise,” Malham said. “We’ve got some holes to fill.” Defensively, five starters will return, including tackles T.C. Carter and Kyle Sturgeon, ends Bryson Randall and Zach Boyd, and Josh Sorrell.
“We’ve got a lot of inexperience on our defense,” Malham said. “Sophomores aren’t the same as seniors who’ve waited their turn and been through the program, so it’ll be interesting. I am always optimistic.” Looking at the rest of the conference, Malham said it’s “hard to tell” which ones will be the toughest teams to beat.
“I don’t know who has what back from
last year, but probably Conway and North
Little Rock are the two front-runners as far
as talent,” he said. “Little Rock Central is
looking good. Bryant will always be Bry
ant; they do a good job playing hard-nosed
football. Central is sort of an unknown, but
I expect them to be much better this year.
I hope we can figure in there somewhere,
but we are pretty green.” The 83-man roster includes 13 seniors,
31 juniors and 39 sophomores, Malham
said. The Panthers run a 5-2 defense and
a T offense.
“Hopefully we’ll have a good season,”
Malham said. “For the last three years,
we’ve won or shared all-conference champ.
We want to win it outright. It is a tough,
tough conference, but these kids have
been exposed to it, and they expect to win.
Hopefully, we’ll be in the mix.”
AUG. 30 ................... JACKSONVILLE
SEPT. 9 ..............PULASKI ACADEMY
SEPT. 16 ...................... @ HAR-BER
SEPT. 23 ........................ CONWAY*
SEPT. 30 .. @ LITTLE ROCK CATHOLIC*
OCT. 7 ....... @ NORTH LITTLE ROCK*
OCT. 14 ....... LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL*
OCT. 21 ....................... @ BRYANT*
OCT. 28 ...................... VAN BUREN*
NOV. 3 ................ @ RUSSELLVILLE*
Three Rivers, Pages 16 on 08/28/2011
Three Rivers 16