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State finals delayed, Panthers continue preparations

Cabot quarterback Kason Kimbrell runs the option during the Panthers’ win over North Little Rock in the Class 7A state semifinals on Friday, Nov. 29 at Panther Stadium. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)Buy Photo
Cabot quarterback Kason Kimbrell runs the option during the Panthers’ win over North Little Rock in the Class 7A state semifinals on Friday, Nov. 29 at Panther Stadium. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)

The Class 7A state championship game, along with the rest of the Arkansas High School state football playoffs, were postponed a week because of the icy conditions which hit the state Thursday and Friday of last week

Arkansas Activities Association made the decision to delay the games on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 4, at about 3:45 p.m.

This affected the Cabot Panthers, who were getting ready to play the Bentonville Tigers for the Class 7A state championship at War Memorial Stadium on Friday. Instead, the game will be played this Friday at 7 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

This is Cabot’s fifth trip to the state finals, with wins in the Class AAA title game in 1983 over Rivercrest and in the Class AAAAA title game in 2000 over Fort Smith Southside.

On Monday, Cabot coach Mike Malham said his team had finished preparations for the championship game last week before hearing of the postponement.

“Thursday was just kind of a walk through,” Malham said. “Wednesday, when we found out we weren’t going to play, we already had our game plan in and hopefully knew what we were doing.”

Malham said his team got a break for three days before going back to practice Monday afternoon.

“We’ll just go back over everything,” he said. “At this point in the year, the body rest is good. It is more mental than anything, getting yourself ready to play. You ought to know what you are doing by now, so we will rehearse again this week. I don’t see us doing a lot.”

Malham said the field at Panther Stadium is frozen but his team can practice inside the indoor workout facility.

“We’ll probably get a few weights and walk through some things in the indoor workout area, then watch some tape today,” he said. “Then tomorrow and Wednesday, just go back over what we did last week and try not to stay out as long.

“Just get them ready so when Friday comes, we’re ready to play.”

Malham said he thinks he will get senior linebacker Jake Vaughn back this week. Vaughn missed the last few weeks of the regular season as well as the first two playoff games because of illness.

“That will be one big blessing of waiting a week,” Malham said. “That will be a big lift to our defense. I think Jack [Whisker] has done a good job filling in for him. But when you miss a three-year starter, a senior and your signal caller, you miss somebody like that. I think that might give us a little boost if he can come back.”

Malham said both teams are going though the delay of playing the state finals.

“There is nothing you can do about it,” he said. “You might as well relax and not get fired up too quickly. You don’t want to spend your emotions to early in the week. You want to wait until the end of the week before the kids get up to play a ball game. The adrenaline doesn’t last forever.”

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