Panther football team embracing challenge

August 23, 2020

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs players accepted a challenge from first-year head coach Todd Wood at the beginning of preseason football practice.

Exercising prevention measures against the threat of corona virus remains a priority, but Wood asked his players to take advantage of every day in becoming better football players.

“Our motto has been not how we start, but how we finish,” Wood said. “Every time we go onto the field, it could be the last time. I told the players you must live the moment and understand tomorrow is not a guarantee.”

Wood said his players quickly accepted a new philosophy. COVID-19 changed some aspects of practices, but Wood said he was pleased overall how his players responded.

“Everything has been a challenge {COVID-19},” Wood said. “Everyone was happy when we started conditioning work and now in practice. We do have some limitations at practice, but the players have been learning a new offense and defense.”

Coaches and players began the catch-up work in June when the Arkansas Activities Association authorized schools to conduct conditioning workouts. Preseason practice began on time.

Wood talked with players about the importance of progressing every day and stressed that hard work would help in closing the gap of no spring practice.

“I told the players that we were behind because of COVID-19,” he said. “We knew the hand dealt to us with few returning players. I have no problem with that, and building a foundation for a successful program.”

Wood liked how the high school and the junior high teams improved throughout August.

“We have the beginning of good things, but we have a long way to go,” he said. “I’ve been pleased with the junior high team. We have taken the first steps of building a program, and it starts with the current players.”

The Panthers will host Johnson County West Side in a benefit game starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Wood said COVID-19 could force a change in schedule, but he said the game is important for the development of players heading into the regular season.

“We are working on putting players in the right positions,” Wood said. “The players are ready to go against players who are not their teammates. I hope we can play the benefit game because we need that experience going into the first game.”

After the benefit game, the Panthers will focus on the season opener at home against Newport on Sept. 4.

“We continue working for the first game,” Wood said. “The players are hungry to play football again and look at this as an opportunity. They understand what we must do and what is necessary to get back on the field.”

Bramlett ready to take over Heber Springs hoops

April 28, 2020

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Scott Bramlett remains ready to take the reins of the Heber Springs High School boys’ basketball program.

Scott Bramlett

The Corona 19 virus prevents Bramlett from meeting his players in person or conducting workouts, but he’s excited about the opportunity of returning to basketball.

Bramlett, who recently completed his third year with the district, was named head coach at a recent Heber Springs school board meeting. He had been an assistant football coach and the head baseball coach. Before coming to Heber Springs, Bramlett coached basketball two years at Augusta.

“I always hope to get back in coaching basketball and baseball,” he said. “I was glad to become head baseball coach last year. I never thought the opportunity to coach basketball would come this soon.”

Bramlett replaces Chad Johnson, who coached the past two seasons when the Panthers were 9-43. Johnson remains a classroom teacher at the high school.

“When they offered the job to me, I took a weekend to think about,” Bramlett said. “I didn’t want to jump right into the job. “I didn’t take the job lightly. I wrote down the pros and cons before making my decision.”

Bramlett will assist Dusty West with the junior high school boys’ basketball program and coached the seventh grade team. West will be Bramlett’s assistant for the high school team and also remains head softball coach.

“I worked with a lot of good coaches and talked with them before making the decision,” Bramlett said. “I want to become more a part in the community, along with the program. I want the players to become not just good basketball players, but learn how to become good men.”

Bramlett said it will be a clean slate for all players. He plans to take a similar apporach to the basketball program as he did with the baseball. The Panthers were 2-1 under Bramlett before the season was cancelled by Covid 19.

“I don’t know of any specific changes for next year, but every change will be to help the program become more successful,” he said. “I know some kids are walking the halls at the school who need to play basketball. “They make not have played basketball in the past, but I want to give them an opportunity to play.”

Bramlett is looking forward to coaching the players in person.

“I talked with some of the returning players on the phone and got a good response,” he said. “I coached a lot of those players in other sports and we know each other. They know they my passion for athletics and that I want the best for them.”

Bramlett said he will decide once the players get on the court of what style of player is best for the players.

“I want to put the players in the best position to win,” he said. “I prefer playing man-to-man defense, but we will play some zone. I like playing with patience on offense, but the players will dictate that.”

Bramlett said he hopes to increase the number of players on the roster and put a competitive team on the court.

“We will work as hard as any team,” he said. “The players will become more involve with the community and create an atmosphere that people want to be a part of. I believe we can cause the same excitement like the fans do for  football.”

Bramlett said he also agrees with other coaches that athletes should participate in more than one sport.

“All of the coaches are in agreement with that,” he said. “We want the best for our athletes and our teams.”