Stuttgart dominates Heber Springs

Heber Springs’ Easton Cusick and Stuttgart’s Arlie Lee battle at the line of the scrimmage during Friday’s contest at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Heber Springs quickly learned at Panther Stadium Friday night that Stuttgart deserved all of the preseason hype and the favorite’ roles to win the 2-4A Conference football championship.

The Ricebirds (2-0 conference, 4-0 overall) scored touchdowns on all six first-half possessions and defeated the Panthers (0-2 in conference, 1-4 overall), 42-6.

Stuttgart remained in a tie for the conference lead with Lonoke and Central Arkansas Christian. Heber Springs played Lonoke early this season and will play at CAC on Friday.

“Stuttgart is the best team in the conference, and I expect them to make it to War Memorial Stadium (state championship game),” Heber Springs head coach Todd Wood said. “They are one of the top teams in the state. Stuttgart did the same thing to other teams this year that it did to us.”

Heber Springs’ Jackson West

The Ricebirds had 394 yards of offense and held the Panthers to 180 yards. Stuttgart did most of its damage through the air and in the first half. Quarterbacks Pate Kleinbeck and Jaden Strange combined to complete 11-of-16 passes for 322 yards and six touchdowns.

Arlie Lee continues to be a thorn in the side of the Heber Springs defense. Lee caught six passes for 175 yards and four touchdowns.  He caught 12 passes for 125 yards and one touchdown last season when Stuttgart lost 28-27 to the Panthers.

“I told our players after the game if you want to be one of the big and bad like Stuttgart, you need to get in the weightroom now and in the offseason,” Wood said.

Running back Diego Rubio provided most of the Panthers’ offense. Rubio rushed 11 times for 31 yards and had 84 yards in kickoff returns for 115 all-purpose yards. Matthew Cook completed 11-of-23 passes for 100 yards with one interception. Cook also ran for 39 yards on eight attempts. Jackson West caught three passes for 45 yards.

Two Heber Springs senior two-way starters — Nathan McKee and Hunter Kent — left the game in the first half because of injuries. Wood said Jackson West, who started on defense, stepped in at receiver and played well.

“Jackson is one of the guys we challenged to become more involved on the offense,” Wood said. “He is learning the receiver position. I expect him to show improvement every game.”

Wood said it was encouraging that the players keep a “no quit attitude.”

“They keep fighting,” he said. “I didn’t see any quit and that is good. When you are being physically dominated, it’s easy to give up. We kept fighting and that is what I like to see.”

Stuttgart scored two touchdowns during the first quarter. Lee caught a 58-yard scoring pass from Strange on the third play of the game. Kleinbeck connected on a 4-yard toss to Lee at the end of a 10-play, 88-yard drive.

The Ricebirds reached the end zone four times in the second quarter.

Kleinbeck passed 45 yards to Strange and Lee caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Strange. Kleinbeck connected on a 22-yard scoring pass to Strange and Strange concluded the scoring on a 33-yard touchdown run.
Jack Hosman kicked the extra points as Stuttgart led 42-0 at halftime.

Heber Springs avoided a shutout by driving 94 yards on 11 plays. Rubio and Cook had runs of 15 and 28 yards, respectively, early in the drive. West’s 21-yard pass reception from Cook put the Panthers in position. Rubio finished the drive by scoring on a 3-yard run with 8:13 left in the game.

“We wanted to score and had two big plays on the drive,” Wood said. “It was good to get the ball into the end zone.”

Heber Springs’ Matthew Cook


Stuttgart (4-0, 2-0)         14  28  0  0 - 42 
Heber Springs (1-4, 0-2)      0   0  0  6 -  6 
Stuttgart, Jaden Strange to Arlie Lee 58-yard pass (Jack Hosman kick), 10:26
Stuttgart, Pate Kleinbeck to Lee 4-yard pass (Hosman kick), 1:52
Stuttgart, Kleinbeck to Strange 45-yard pass (Pass failed), 10:02
Stuttgart, Strange to Lee 37-yard pass (Strange run), 4:49
Stuttgart, Kleinbeck to Strange 22-yard pass (Hosman kick), 3:04
Stuttgart, Kleinbeck to Strange 33-yard pass (Hosman kick), 1:17
Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 3-yard run (Kick failed), 8:21

First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 5, Stuttgart 3
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 4, Stuttgart 8 
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 3, Stuttgart 0
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 12, Stuttgart 11 
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 1/7, Stuttgart 6/8
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 1/3, Stuttgart 0/0
Red-Zone Conversions: Heber Springs 1/2, Stuttgart 2/2
Time of Possession: Heber Springs 26:52, Stuttgart 21:08
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 0/0, Stuttgart 2/0
Turnovers: Heber Springs 1, Stuttgart 0       
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 0, Stuttgart 7  
Penalties: Heber Springs 4/22, Stuttgart 13/120 
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 47/180/3.8, Stuttgart 36/394/10.9
Rushing: Heber Springs 24/80/3.3, Stuttgart 20/72/3.6
Passing: Heber Springs 11/23-100-0/1, Stuttgart 11/16-322-6/0
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 0/0, Stuttgart 2/18
Punts: Heber Springs 3/69/23, Stuttgart 2/88/44
Inside 20: Heber Springs 0, Stuttgart 2

RUSHING: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 8/39, Diego Rubio 11/31, Kenan Sneed 3/16, Isaac King 2/(-6). Stuttgart, Daniel Poole 6/38, AJ Higgins 4/21, Jaxson Robinson 3/10, Tymir Coppins 1/5, Xavier Hobbs 2/5, Jack Hosman 1/2
PASSING: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 11/23-100-0/1. Stuttgart, Pate Kleinbeck 7/11-186-4/0, Jaden Strange 4/5-136-2/0.
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Jackson West 3/45, Kenan Sneed 3/25, Isaac King 2/14, Nathan McKee 2/8, Easton Cusick 1/8. Stuttgart, Arlie Lee 6/175/3, Jaden Strange 3/100/3, Jaxson Robinson 1/27, Tymir Coppins 1/20.  
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 139, Diego Rubio 31, Kenan Sneed 16, Isaac King (-6). Stuttgart, Pate Kleinbeck 186, Jaden Strange 136, Daniel Poole 38, AJ Higgins 21, Jaxson Robinson 10, Tymir Coppins 5, Xavier Hobbs 5, Jack Hosman 2.
PUNT RETURNS: Suttgart, Tymir Coppins 1/(-1) 
KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 5/84. Stuttgart, Kendrick Hawkins 1/7, Deontre Starks 1/0.
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Stuttgart, Bryer West 1/21
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 115, Jackson West 45, Kenan Sneed 41, Matthew Cook 39, Isaac King 8, Nathan McKee 8, Easton Cusick 8. Stuttgart, Arlie Lee 175, Jaden Strange 100, Daniel Poole 38, Jaxson Robinson 37, Tymir Coppins 24, AJ Higgins 21, Bryer West 21, Kendrick Hawkins 7, Xavier Hobbs 5, Jack Hosman 2. 
SCORING: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 6, Chandler Webber (0/1 XPA). Lonoke, Jaden Strange 20, Arlie Lee 18, Jack Hosman 4 (4/4 XPA).
PUNTS/YARDS/AVERAGE/INSIDE THE 20: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 3/69/23/0. Stuttgart, Jaden Strange 2/88/44/2.
SACKS/YARDS LOST: Stuttgart, Kameron Harper 2/8
Fumble Recoveries: None
Interceptions: Stuttgart, Bryer West

Panther PostGame

Heber Springs claims first win, 28-27, over Stuttgart

Heber Springs senior tackle Harley Hannah battles with Stuttgart’s Collier Bush during 4A-2 conference Friday night at Stuttgart. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

October 4, 2019

STUTTGART – Heber Springs used a fourth-quarter touchdown and a late interception to claim its first win of the season with a 28-27 victory over Stuttgart Friday night.

The win over Stuttgart broke a five-game losing streak — the Panthers longest streak since the 2013, but more importantly kept Heber Springs (1-1, 1-4) in the 4A-2 conference race.

Heber Springs won despite committing 13 penalties for a 103 yards and having the ball for only 18 minutes, but won the turnover battle for the first time all season as Nathan McKee intercepted Stuttgart quarterback Pate Kleinbeck with 1:51 at the Ricebird 43 to seal the win.

It was McKee that also played in a part in the Panthers first score as Adam Martin connected with the junior for a 39-yard scoring strike with 4:44 to play in the opening quarter. Jackson Harrod added the PAT kick.

Heber Springs’ Nathan McKee goes down after intercepting Stuttgart quarterback Pate Kleinback to seal a Panther win. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

On the Ricebirds’ ensuing possession, Heber Springs got the first turnover of the game as Fate Berry picked off Kleinbeck near midfield. But on the next play, Martin was intercepted giving Stuttgart the ball at the Panther 48.

The Ricebirds used an 11-play drive to tie things up at 7-all with 10:50 to play before the half as Kleinbeck sneaked in from the 1. Stuttgart was aided on the drive by a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Heber Springs, but the big play came on fourth-and-8 from the Panther 34 when Kleinbeck connected with Rhett Bohanan for a 19-yard completion.

It didn’t take long for the Panthers to answer as Tri Johnson took the ensuing kickoff and raced 62 yards to put the ball on the Stuttgart 12. Three plays later Julio Rubio, who led the Panthers on the ground with 81 yards on 15 carries, raced into the end zone from the 7 with 9:28 to play in the half.

Stuttgart appeared to answer the score three plays later but Arlie Lee, who had 12 receptions for 125 yards, fumbled as he was getting ready to cross the goal line and Landon Johnson pounced on the football to end the threat.

Taking over the 20, Heber Springs went backwards thanks in part to three penalties and a one-yard loss on a first-down rush by Martin, forcing a punt from the Panther 14.

After a short punt, Kleinbeck raced 31 yards to the Panther 6. But the penalty bug bit the Ricebirds as a pair of infractions pushed the ball back to the 20 before Kleinbeck found Lee on third down for the tying touchdown with 4:28 left in the second quarter.

The two teams traded possessions before Heber Springs got the ball back with 1:10 left in the half at the Panther 41. Martin found McKee for 22 yards, Cook for 11 yards before reeling off an 18-yard run. After a one-yard loss on a pass, Martin scrambled 17 yards to put Heber Springs up 21-14 at the half after the Harrod kick.

(Videos by Billy Smallwood)

Heber Springs took the ball to start the second half but couldn’t muster anything offensively giving the ball back to Stuttgart.

The Ricebirds then consumed almost five minutes of the third-quarter clock with a 13-play, 71-yard drive as Kleinback connected with Blake Book for a 13-yard scoring strike. The big play of the drive came on a third-and-15 from the Stuttgart when the Panthers were called for pass interference to extend the possession.

After a three-and-out by Heber Springs, Stuttgart took over on the Panther 46. Eight plays later, Jaeshawn Williams plunged in from the 1 to give the Ricebirds their first lead of the night with 1:01. On the PAT attempt, Heber Springs was flagged for being offsides but instead of letting the kick continue, which sailed through the uprights, the officials whistled the ball dead. The ensuing kick was short leaving Stuttgart up 27-21.

The two teams traded possessions before the Panthers took possession of the ball on their own 11 with 9:38 to play. A 44-yard pass completion from Martin to Cook put the ball in Ricebird territory at the 43. Two plays later, Martin scrambled and found Landon Johnson, who made the catch at the Stuttgart 5 getting one foot down. Two plays later, Julio Rubio scored from the 1 and Harrod converted the PAT kick to give the Panthers a 28-27 with 7:24 to play.

After the Panther defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing Stuttgart possession, aided by a Kaden Hughes sack for a loss of 10 yards, Heber Springs appeared to be marching downfield to put the game out of reach after Landon Johnson carried the ball 20 and 8 yards to the Ricebird 7, but the drive fizzled on fourth down with 2:10 left setting up Stuttgart’s final attempt to win the game.

Heber Springs’ Landon Johnson is brought down after a 20-yard, fourth-quarter run.

Martin finished the night 9-of-13 passing for 162 yards while rushing for 76 yards.

Heber Springs returns to action Friday night when they host Central Arkansas Christian at 7 p.m. at Panther Stadium. CAC dropped a 38-35 decision to Little Rock Mills last Friday after leading that contest in the fourth quarter.


HOMECOMING: It was Stuttgart’s homecoming contest on Friday with the Ricebird queen and her court honored before the game. Heber Springs will have its homecoming on October 25 when they host Southside Batesville.

SOMETHING ABOUT 28: The win at Stuttgart was the only the second time Heber Springs has won on the Ricebirds home field. Heber Springs’ first win in the series at Stuttgart came in 2011 by a score of 28-21.

CONFERENCE THIRD-DOWN WOES: Since Heber Springs has entered conference play, the Panthers have only converted four out of 25 third-down attempts, including one of nine against Stuttgart.

SHORT PUNTS: Adam Martin is averaging close to 40 yards a punt this season, but both times one his punts has went for fewer than 30 yards the opposing team has scored on ensuing drive including Friday night.

SAME AS LAST YEAR: Heber Springs started the 2018 season with an identical 1-4 record but went on to win six-in-a-row before losing in a second-round playoff contest.


Heber Springs (1-1, 1-4)    7  14   0   7  - 28  
Stuttgart (0-2, 0-5)        0  14   13  0  - 27  
Heber Springs - Adam Martin to Nathan McKee 39-yard pass (Jackson Harrod kick), 4:44  
Stuttgart - Pate Kleinbeck 1-yard run (Paulo Palomino kick), 10:50 
Heber Springs - Julio Rubio 7-yard run (Harrod kick), 9:28
Stuttgart - Kleinbeck to Arlie Lee 20-yard pass (Palomino kick), 4:28
Heber Springs - Martin 17-yard run (Harrod kick), :30  
Stuttgart - Kleinbeck to Blake Book 13-yard pass (Palomino kick), 5:55  
Stuttgart - Jaeshawn Williams 1-yard run (Kick failed), 1:01  
Heber Springs - Rubio 1-yard run (Harrod kick), 7:24 






First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 5, Stuttgart 8 
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 6, Stuttgart 7 
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 0, Stuttgart 2 
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 11, Stuttgart 17 
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 1/9, Stuttgart 6/15 
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 0/2, Stuttgart 2/3 
Red-Zone Possessions: Heber Springs 2/4, Stuttgart 4/5   
Time of Possession: Heber Springs 18:04, Stuttgart 29:56 
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 0/0, Stuttgart 3/1  
Turnovers: Heber Springs 2, Stuttgart 3  
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 0, Stuttgart 7   
Penalties/Yards: Heber Springs 13/103, Stuttgart 5/50  
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 50/339/6.8, Stuttgart 79/323/4.1 
Rushing: Heber Springs 37/177/4.8, Stuttgart 39/128/3.3 
Passing: Heber Springs 9/13-162-1/2, Stuttgart 22/40-195-2/2  
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 2/15, Stuttgart 0/0 
Punts: Heber Springs 3/90/30, Stuttgart 4/128/32  
Punts Inside 20: Heber Springs 1, Stuttgart 1  
Heber Springs’ Adam Martin


OFFENSE RUSHING: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 16/76/4.8, Julio Rubio 15/81/5.4, Team 3/(-6)/(-2), Landon Johnson 2/28/14, Tri Johnson 1/(-2)/(-2). Stuttgart, Jaeshawn Williams 19/84/4.4, Pate Kleinbeck 10/(-6)/(-.6), Jaxson Robinson 6/28/4.7, Mitchell Stovesand 3/19/6.3, Arlie Lee 1/3/3.   
RUSHING RUNS OF 30+: Stuttgart, Pate Kleinbeck (1). 
RUSHING RUNS OF 20+: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio (1), Landon Johnson (1). Stuttgart, Pate Kleinback (1), Jaeshawn Williams (1).
RUSHING RUNS OF 10+: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (3), Julio Rubio (2), Landon Johnson (1). Stuttgart, Jaeshawn Willimas (2), Pate Kleinbeck (1), Jaxson Robinson (1), Mitchell Stovesand (1). 
PASSING: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 9/13-162-1/2. Stuttgart, Pate Kleinbeck 21/39-180-2/2, Blake Book 1/1-15-0/0.
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 3/58/19.3, Matthew Cook 2/55/27.5, Fate Berry 2/15/7.5, Landon Johnson 1/35/35, Julio Rubio 1/(-1)/(-1). Stuttgart, Arlie Lee 12/125/10.4, Mitchell Stovesand 4/24/6, Rhett Bohanan 3/41/13.7, Blake Book 1/9/9, Jaeshawn Williams 1/(-2)/(-2), Tymir Coppins 1/(-2)/(-2).  
RECEPTIONS OF 40+: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook (1). 
RECEPTIONS OF 30+: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook (1), Landon Johnson (1), Nathan McKee
RECEPTIONS OF 20+: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook (1), Landon Johnson (1), Nathan McKee (1). Stuttgart, Arlie Lee (1).
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 238, Julio Rubio 81, Landon Johnson 28, Tri Johnson (-2), Team (-6). Stuttgart, Pate Kleinbeck 174, Jaeshawn Willaims 84, Jaxson Robinson 28, Mitchell Stovesand 19, Blake Book 15, Arlie Lee 3.
PUNT RETURNS: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 1/11.
KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Tri Johnson 2/72/36, Lawrence Baureis 1/10/10, Jackson West 1/10/10. Stuttgart, Merritt Coker 2/19/9.5, Arlie Lee 1/14/14, Mitchell Stovesand 1/9/9, Devon Stigger 1/9.
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 1/10, Fate Berry 1/2. Stuttgart, Merritt Coker 1/8, Rhett Bohanan 1/7.
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio 80, Nathan McKee 79, Adam Martin 76, Tri Johnson 70, Landon Johnson 63, Matthew Cook 55, Fate Berry 17, Lawrence Baureis 10, Jackson West 10, Team (-6). Stuttgart, Arlie Lee 142, Jaeshawn Williams 84, Mitchell Stovesand 52, Rhett Bohanan 48, Jaxson Robinson 28, Merritt Coker 27, Devin Stigger 9, Blake Book 9, Tymir Coppins (-2), Pate Kleinback (-6).   
DEFENSE TACKLES (Shared/Solo/Total): Heber Springs,Landon Johnson 11/3/14, Diego Rubio 11/1/12, Fate Berry 7/4/11, Nathan McKee 5/3/8, Kaden Hughes 3/1/4, Hunter Kent 4/0/4, Lawrence Bauries 3/1/4, Matthew Cook 3/1/4, Dalton McCollum 2/0/2, Jackson West 2/0/2, Nicholas Hitchcock 2/0/2, Tristan Thissen 1/1/2, Julio Rubio 1/0/1, Preston Jones 0/1/1, Spencer Evans 1/0/1, Harley Hannah 1/0/1.
TACKLES FOR LOSS: Heber Springs, Landon Johnson 3, Diego Rubio 2, Kaden Hughes 2, Lawrence Baureis 2, Fate Berry 1, Nicholas Hitchcock 1, Spencer Evans 1, Harley Hannah 1. 
SACKS/YARDS LOST: Heber Springs, Kaden Hughes 1/10, Diego Rubio 1/5, Fate Bery .5/-3, Landon Johnson .5/-3, Matthew Cook .5/-3. 
INTERCEPTIONS: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee, Fate Berry. Stuttgart, Merritt Coker, Rhett Bohanan.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Heber Springs, Landon Johnson.
PUNTING: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 3/90/30. Stuttgart, Rhett Bohanan 4/128/32  
PUNTS INSIDE 20: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (1). Stuttgart, Rhett Bohanan (1).   
Heber Springs’ Fate Berry


                             W L CP  W L PS  PA 
Riverview                   2 0 23  4 1 168 124 
Lonoke                      2 0 15  3 2 176 171  
Southside Batesville        1 1 13  3 2 151 136   
Bald Knob                   1 1  7  1 4  78 151  
Little Rock Mills           1 1  3  2 3 104 126  
Heber Springs               1 1  1  1 4 137 172
Central Arkansas Christian  0 2  0  2 3 163 160  
Stuttgart                   0 2  0  0 5 125 189 

Friday, October 4 
Heber Springs 28, Stuttgart 27
Lonoke 38, Bald Knob 36
Riverview 35, Southside Batesville 7 
Little Rock Mills 38, Central Arkansas Christian 35 
Friday, October 11 
Central Arkansas Christian at Heber Springs 
Stuttgart at Bald Knob
Lonoke at Southside Batesville 
Little Rock Mills at Riverview

Heber Springs’ Julio Rubio


Heber Springs’ Adam Martin gets flipped by a trio of Ricebird defenders.