Scott Reed is 2-0 fresh into his third season as head coach of the Cabot Panthers, a place he has connections nearby to the area from decades ago. His father, the late Bill Reed, coached at neighboring Jacksonville from 1972-81 winning state titles in 1976, ’78 (Scott’s senior season), and ’81. Bill also had Cabot legend Mike Malham on his staff at Jacksonville during the time Scott was a player. The Reeds are one of three father-son duos to win state championships in Arkansas high school football history.
Malham retired in 2018 after eclipsing 300 wins and two state titles, his final team finishing with a record of 4-6. Reed took over the following season guiding the Panthers to a 6-5 record and a trip to the playoffs losing in the first round to Fayetteville 44-14.
Cabot began 2020 strong starting 5-0 before hitting a slump towards the back end of the season losing three out of four, rebounded defeating Fort Smith Northside 24-7 in Week 9, and then fell 48-31 to North Little Rock in the final week of the regular season.
The Panthers picked up steam in the playoffs thrashing Rogers 48-14 and upset then-undefeated Bentonville 38-34. This would set up a rematch at North Little Rock against the Wildcats for a spot in the state championship game. Former Cabot quarterback Tyler Gee threw for just shy of 500 yards, but NLR ultimately emerged victorious in a 49-42 thriller.
Hooten’s Arkansas Football preseason-ranked the Panthers as the 2nd-best team in 7A, right behind 3-time defending champion Bryant and through two games they have lived up to the hype. They gave up just 7 points and 248 yards in Week 0 victory against Searcy and the offense put up 28 points in the 1st half last Friday night against Jonesboro winning 47-27.
Landers Award nominee Braden Jay thrived last season wherever he lined up, and he has already taken that to another level in his senior season. The Harding commit has 429 total yards and of his 5 total touchdowns he has at least one rushing, receiving, and took an 85-yard kickoff return to the house last week. Running back Mason Bell, one of the more underrated names in Central Arkansas, has 240 yards and 2 touchdowns averaging 7.2 yard per carry.
The Panthers returned almost all of their interior linemen on both sides of the ball, including three of aforementioned Braden Jay’s fellow Harding commits on defense in Eric Masterson, Jose Lopez, and Justin Sobczak. The fearsome trio has already combined for 7 sacks, Sobzak leading the charge at 3.5.
This week, Cabot welcomes Scott Reed’s previous team the El Dorado Wildcats (1-0). The two teams played last season in El Dorado which the Panthers won 41-23. Reed led the Wildcats from 2007-18 and is the most successful coach in the school’s history winning a record 106 games along with four state championships (’09,’10,11,’13).
El Dorado had to sweat out its win last Thursday over Camden Fairview, a game that came down to the final play and ElDo’s defense stepped up to preserve the 40-36 victory. Head coach Steven Jones is 10-12 in his third season leading the Wildcats and is hoping to take that next step with a talented roster.
Senior Sharmon Rester had a solid first game as the Wildcats’ new quarterback completing 10-16 passes for 247 yards and 5 total touchdowns. He has two Division 1 college prospects at his disposal to throw to in junior DeAndra Burns and senior Jackie Washington, who each had a touchdown against Camden Fairview. Burns has already received an offer from Arkansas and will be one of the most highly-touted recruits in the 2023 class. Washington currently has offers from Middle Tennessee State and Arkansas Baptist College, but his stock is expected to rise with a big season as one of the better slot receivers in the state. Senior R.J. Thomas, also a reliable target, caught two touchdowns last week. Defensively, Jyrin Steward had a fantastic start to the season eclipsing 12 total tackles (11 solo), 1 sack, and 2 tackles for loss.
From a skill position standpoint, many would argue these two squads are pretty close to even. The question is will the Wildcats be able to hang with Cabot on both sides of the trenches for 48 minutes? We will find out Friday at Panther Stadium.
Article published by Kyle Sutherland, @k_sutherlandHTP on Twitter