Cabot Junior High South may not be able to look forward to expecting a conference title this season, but they do look forward to fighting for wins and maybe getting to that championship status again.
This group of South Panthers won four games in seventh and eight grade combined, but made it hard on the winning team in almost every loss.
"This is a good group of kids," said Cabot South coach Lee Melder. "They didn’t win a lot, but they were so close in those games. We’re working on getting that extra gear and making the next step. If they can get over that hump then this could be a real good season."
The hotter weather sapped the South Panthers during the first practices once school began, but they quickly adapted. The team is healthy and ready for that first game with Cabot North.
"We’ve been pretty lucky with our health," Melder said. "One thing that helped being ready for practice is that really came back from the summer in good shape. They work hard and have such a good work ethic. They‘re always encouraging each other and working to make everyone better."
The Panthers don’t have the same kind of size and depth on the offensive line that they’ve enjoyed in recent seasons, but there is a solid starting group in place.
"Like pretty much everybody, we have to stay healthy," said Melder. "We do have a good group of running backs though. We have a lot of guys we can rotate in the game. The offensive line has a chance to be real good, but still needs some work."
In the annual red-white game Friday, the Red team beat the White 20-16.
White scored first on a 5-yard run by Logan Edmondson. Braxton Burton scored the two-point conversion to make the score 8-0.
White pushed its lead to 16-0 when Dylan Smith returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown. Jeremy Marshall scored the two-point conversion.
The Red, led by quarterback Jarrod Barnes, rallied for the win. Barnes scored on runs of 50, 64 and 50 yards. Jacob Howard scored two two-point conversions.
The Cabot Junior High North Panthers are working hard to get ready for that Week One showdown with crosstown rival Cabot South.
"We’re taking it one practice at a time and one day at a time like we do," said Cabot North coach Danny Spencer. "We’re trying to use this practice time as best we can and I think we‘re making the right strides to get better."
The North Panthers are looking forward to what could be a very solid season. This group of freshmen has lost just four games total in their seventh and eighth grade seasons.
"This could be one of my better groups," Spencer said. "But you never know with young guys like this."
The change in weather from mild to hot hasn’t kept the Panthers from working hard each and every practice. The early practices were played with the temperatures in the low 80s. Temperatures rising to the mid 90s and above are making teams sweat just a little more.
"You know, we don’t really have two-a-days anymore, so I’m thinking ‘you guys have it good right now’ during those first practices," said Spencer. "Now it has gotten hot, but they haven’t crumbled or anything. They’ve risen to the occasion and are making those strides."
In North’s red-white game, the White won 26-0.
Easton Seidl scored two touchdowns for the White. Kaleb Schmidt and JeMari Moore each scored touchdowns.