Cabot coach Scott Reed had nothing but praise for El Dorado after watching its 40-36 win over Camden Fairview last week. He said the Wildcats pose match-up issues for his Panthers, primarily in the area of speed.
“We didn’t run as well as Jonesboro and they’re not as fast as (El Dorado),” said Reed. “We’ll have to do a lot of things right.”
Cabot enters the game averaging 41 points in its wins over Searcy and Jonesboro. The Panthers have shown a much improved running game, keyed by the offensive line.
“We have been productive the first two games and we’ve been more balanced. We’ve run the ball better than we did a year ago,” said Reed. “We have a lot of up front guys returning. I would say our strength is up front and that would be on both sides of the ball.
“One thing that has surprised me. We have had some explosive plays. Last year we had a couple real good wide receivers. One graduated and one returned. He’s explosive and then our tailback is. He had about an 85-yard run against Jonesboro.
“We are capable of scoring points. The good thing offensively is, we’re more balanced. Last year, we had a hard time running the ball. I think we’re better up front.”
The Wildcats surrendered points in a 40-36 win over the Cardinals last week. But, they helped their opponents with 23 penalties.
“El Dorado has the best group of linebackers we will have seen. They will have the best linebackers and the best secondary, overall, that we have seen,” said Reed, who compared El Dorado’s defense to last year’s.
“To me, they’re more disciplined. I think last year they had to rely on bringing pressure all the time. That allowed people to hit ‘em with some big plays. Just watching on film, it looks like it’s harder to get those. They do some different things with coverage. They’ll change coverages more. Last year you saw a lot of the same coverage. To me, what they’re doing fits their personnel better than a year ago.”
The Panthers average 274.6 pounds on the offensive line, tackle-to-tackle.
Last week, Fairview found some success moving the ball with a ground-oriented heavy set. Reed noticed.
“I’ve always got some kind of goal line set I tinker with or whatever. We hadn’t done much of that this year,” he said. “When it came down to it, though, El Dorado stopped them. The thing that I see with El Dorado’s team, they run really well and they play really hard.”
Defensively, Cabot held Jonesboro to less than 100 yards rushing last week. Reed said the Wildcats present different challenges, however.
“They have the best offense we’ve seen and, the best skilled guys offensively, too. We’ll have to play really well, I know that,” he said. “They got some explosive plays throwing it. We don’t match up real well with teams like that, that can throw it over the top of you or are good in the passing game.”
While Reed was complimentary of El Dorado’s talent, he admitted the cupboard isn’t bare in Cabot.
“We actually have four kids committed to Harding. We have another kid that’s been offered by Arkansas Tech. We have some talented kids,” he said. “We have a defensive end that’s about 6-6, 240. He’s a very good player. We have two (defensive) tackles committed to Harding. Our slot receiver is committed to Harding. We do have some good players. I like our group, I really do.”
Reed said the final score to the Jonesboro game was misleading. The Hurricane muffed a punt, which led to a Panthers’ touchdown. He said Cabot’s kickoff return touchdown was also, “fluke-ish” after a bobbled catch. Likewise, El Dorado’s final margin against the Cardinals didn’t tell the whole tale, either.
“That Camden game, they played a lot of snaps and they showed a lot to win it. They had a lot of penalties and they overcame it. They kept playing,” he said. “I remember when I was there, this group was the group everybody was waiting on. I think they have a very good football team. There aren’t any holes.”
Reed’s key to the game?
“We need to out-rush them for sure,” he answered. “And then, I know they’re going to get some explosive plays. I know that. But we need to limit those. We need to get ‘em on the ground. When they do hit ‘em, we need to get them on the ground and make them go play again. Those are the concerns for me.”