|Cumby favored in first game of the season|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
AUG. 25, 2005 - CUMBY - The Friday night lights will be shining on the Cumby Trojans in the season opener against the Alba-Golden Panthers at Trojan Field.
"We are looking forward to this game and the kids are ready because we have more offense on them than last year and they are understanding the defense and what we want," said Cumby coach Kent Hawthorne.
The Trojans come into Zero Week action as four-point favorites according to the Harris Rating System after a 20-7 win in the season opener last year in Alba.
"We were really nervous last year and turned the ball over several times," the coach said. "We had some turnovers where we would have some good drives going inside their 20-yard line and also had dropped touchdown passes, which made the game closer than it actually was."
Jake Petty was the leading receiver in last year's contest with three receptions for 64 yards and a TD, but this year he makes the switch to quarterback and has been very impressive according to Hawthorne.
"When we came into the season, we were worried about the quarterback position because we had a player who had taken all of the snaps last year in Matt (Steward), but Jake has studied and threw the ball every day this summer and looks really good," Hawthorne said.
Jake is pretty intense and ready to go to work this week and we are trying to fine tune him and he is going to be excited."
Even with the scorching heat that Hopkins County has experienced this week and temperatures in the mid-to-low 90s on Friday night, Hawthorne said the players have not complained and have impressed the coaching staff.
"They have been flying to the ball and nobody has missed practice this week, and we have had the best two days of practices that we have had since I have been in Cumby," he said.
The Panthers will be looking to break an 0-30 losing streak at the school and will be making some changes on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
The defense will move to a 3-3-5 defense while the offense will run a pro-set I formation and Hawthorne said his offensive and defensive unit will need to be ready for the game.
"I like coach Alan Phillips a lot and he is fighting it tooth-and-nail at Alba and those coaches over there are working hard to get things right," Hawthorne said. "I think this defense that they put on, which is a 3-3-5, where they will be sending somebody from everywhere during a game and we definitely need to be ready."
The Panthers return All-District two-way starters in Rob Thomas at quarterback/defensive back, tight end/defensive end Brandon Bohannan, offensive lineman/linebacker Daniel George, running back/linebacker Matt Silcox, and running back/defensive back Stephan Posey as top prospects by Texas Football magazine.
Hawthorne said with the conditions that the players will be facing tomorrow night in the season opener keeping the players healthy will be a key role for the remainder of the week.
"We are going to make sure that the kids are hydrated and that we take the caffeine away from the kids during the season, or they will be getting extra running if we catch them with it," the coach said.
"We will have the whole team on the sideline since no junior varsity game happens this week so we can rotate players out to give them a breather if they need it during the game."