Panthers fall to Comets, head to playoffs

Heber Springs’ Jackson West, Preston Roberson and Nathan McKee celebrate after teammate Chris Edwards recovers an onside kick to start the second half. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Entrance of a new quarterback helped Little Rock Mills University Studies to turn the tide during the third  quarter against the Heber Springs Panthers at Panther Stadium on Friday.

Freshman Achilles Ringo completed 8-of-10 passes for 105 yards and one touchdown and led the Comets to a 34-24 win against the Panthers in a 2-4A Conference game. Mills earned a No. 5 seed for the Class 4A football playoffs.

Ringo replaced sophomore starter Q.J. King, who completed 4-of-5 passes for 84 yards and rushed for 44 yards on eight attempts during the first half. King moved to receiver during the second half and caught four passes for 58 yards and one touchdown.

“He (Ringo) is Mills’ all-everything quarterback,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “He has a better arm than the other quarterback (King) and was more accurate. We knew when he came into the game, Mills was going to throw the ball more, take advantage of its speed and try and spread the field. That was the difference in the game.”

Wood said Ringo forced the Heber Springs defense to alter its game plan during the second half.

“Mills put us in a situation of defending the entire field and tackling in open spaces,” Wood said. “That made it difficult on us.”

The running game also was another difference in the game. Heber Springs had 25 yards to 185 yards for Mills. The Panthers reached the red zone six times, scoring a touchdown and kicking a field goal.

Keilon Dais rushed for 94 of his 117 yards during the second half for the Comets. Heber Springs quarterback Matthew Cook was held to 13 yards rushing, including three quarterback sacks. Mills converted 6-of-11 third-down plays, 5-of-7 in the first half. The Panthers were 2-of-10 on third down. Mills held a 374-309 advantage in total offense.

The loss ended Heber Springs’ bid to qualify for the playoffs.  However, the Panthers will participate because of the Arkansas Activities Association allowing all teams into the playoffs because of COVID-19.

Heber Springs (1-6 conference, 2-8 overall) will play a play-in game at Trumann (3-4 3-4A Conference, 5-5 overall) starting at 7 p.m. Friday. The winner will advance to play Malvern in the first round.

Heber Springs controlled the first half thanks to quarterback Matthew Cook’s pin-point passing. Cook completed 15-of-21 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns during the first half and 23-of-37 for 211 yards with one interception. Nathan McKee completed 2-of-2 passes for 71 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to Gus Hannah in the first half.

McKee was the leading receiver with nine catches for 69 yards, followed by Easton Cusick, who caught five passes for 49 yards. Hannah had four receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson West caught four passes for 28 yards and one touchdown.

Heber Springs received the opening kickoff and drove 62 yards on seven plays to take the initial lead. On the second play of the game, Hannah caught a pass from Cook and ran for a 26-yard gain and a first down at the Mills 20-yard line. Cook rushed for 16 yards for a first-and-goal at the 4-yard line.

The Panthers netted a minus four yards on the next three plays, but they decided to go for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal at the 8-yard line.

Cook passed to West for the touchdown with 9:51 left in the first quarter. Heber Springs failed on a 2-point conversion and led, 6-0.

Heber Springs scored again before the end of the quarter. After holding on downs at the Mills 29-yard line, the Panthers increased their lead when McKee passed to Hannah with 1:17 remaining. Diego Rubio ran for a 2-point conversion and the 14-0 lead.

Mills reduced the Heber Springs lead in half on a five-play,  52-yard drive. King connected with freshman Kylon Deadman on a 49-yard touchdown pass with 9:48 left in the first half. The Comets’ 2-point conversion attempt failed.

Heber Springs responded with a four-play, 40-yard drive. Cook passed 37 yards to Hannah for the score with 8:12 left in the first half. Hannah kicked the extra point for the 21-6 lead.

Mills scored before halftime on Keilon Davis’ 2-yard run with 4:12 remaining. The 2-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful as the Panthers led 21-12 at halftime.

“It felt good going into halftime leading by nine points,” Wood said. “We were scoreboard watching because we needed Clinton to lose and win by eight points against Mills. We led by 12 points later and felt good about everything. Unfortunately, we stalled on a couple of drives and then came the turnovers.”

Heber Springs increased its lead to 24-12 on Hannah’s 22-yard field goal with 7:26 left in the third quarter.

A shift of momentum began on the next series when Mills needed eight plays during a 60-yard drive. Ringo finished by scoring on a 3-yard run with 4:27 left in the third quarter. The Comets’ 2-point conversion failed as the Panthers’ lead was reduced to 24-18.

Mills took the lead with 1:14 to go in the third quarter. Davis broke free at the line of scrimmage and scored on a 64-yard run. He also ran for the 2-point conversion, giving Mills a 26-24 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Comets scored an insurance touchdown with 11:26 left in the game when Ringo passed 33 yards to King. Davis ran for a 2-point conversion.

“The players showed a lot of fight, like that they did in previous games,” Wood said. “Since Aug. 3, I watched the players improve every day in practice and in games. That is a tribute to the players. I could not ask any more from them.”

GAME STATS

SCORING   
Little Rock Mills (3-4, 4-6)   0 12 14  8 - 34
Heber Springs (1-6, 2-8)      14  7  3  0 - 24 
FIRST QUARTER   
Heber Springs, Matthew Cook to Jackson West 8-yard pass (run failed), 9:51
Heber Springs, Nathan McKee to Gus Hannah 29-yard pass (Diego Rubio run), 1:17
SECOND QUARTER
Mills, Q.J. King to Kylan Deadmon 49-yard pass (run failed), 9:47
Heber Springs, Cook to Hannah 37-yard pass (Hannah kick), 8:12
Mills, Keilon Davis 2-yard (run failed), 4:12
THIRD QUARTER   
Heber Springs, Hannah 22-yard kick, 7:26
Mills, Achilles Ringo 3-yard pass (pass failed), 4:27
Mills, Davis 64-yard run (Davis run), 1:14
FOURTH QUARTER 
Mills, Ringo to King 33-yard pass (Davis run), 11:36

TEAM STATS   
First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 3, Mills 5
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 7, Mills 8
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 3, Mills 0
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 13, Mills 13
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 2/10, Mills 6/11
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 2/6, Mills 2/4
Red-Zone Conversions: Heber Springs 7/3, Mills 3/2
Time of Possession: Heber Springs 23:26, Mills 24:34
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 3/2, Mills 5/3
Turnovers: Heber Springs 3, Mills 3     
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 0, Mills 8
Penalties: Heber Springs 8/59, Mills 14/119
Rushing: Heber Springs 15/25/1.7, Mills 37/185/5
Passing: Heber Springs 25/39-283-3/1, Mills 12/16-189-2/0
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 54/308/5.7, Mills 53/374/7.1
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 0/0, Mills 3/24
Punts: Heber Springs 1/36, Mills 0
Inside 20: Heber Springs 1

INDIVIDUAL STATS   
OFFENSE     
RUSHING: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 10/18, Diego Rubio 4/11, Nathan McKee 1/(-4). Mills, Keilon Davis 18/117/2, Q.J. King 9/62, Achilles Ringo 3/(-2), Nikolas Watson 2/12, Team 2/(-4), Carlos Deadmon 1/(-2).
PASSING: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 23/37-211-2/1, Nathan McKee 2/2-71-1/0. Mills, Achilles Ringo 8/10-105-1/0, Q.J. King 4/6-84-1/0.
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 9/69, Easton Cusick 5/49, Gus Hannah 4/120/2, Jackson West 4/28/1, Diego Rubio 2/9, Austin Winchester 1/7. Mills, Keilon Davis 6/66, Q.J. King 4/58/1, Kylan Deadmon 1/49/1, Jalon Davis 1/16.
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 229, Nathan McKee 77, Diego Rubio 11. Mills, Q.J. King 142, Keilon Davis 117, Achilles Ringo 103, Nikolas Watson 12.
PUNT RETURNS: Clinton, none
KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Jackson West 2/3, Nathan McKee 1/23, Diego Rubio 1/6. Mills, none.
FUMBLE RETURNS: Mills, Wesley Guy 1/8
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Mills, Dylan Parks 1/15
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Gus Hannah 120, Nathan McKee 88, Easton Cusick 49, Jackson West 31, Diego Rubio 26, Matthew Cook 18, Austin Winchester 7. Mills, Keilon Davis 183, Q.J. King 120, Kylan Deadmon 49, Jalon Davis 16, Dylan Parks 15, Nikolas Watson 12, Wesley Guy 8, Achilles Ringo (-2), 
SCORING: Heber Springs, Gus Hannah 16 (1/1 XP/XPA, 1/1 FGA. Made: 22-yards), Jackson West 6, Diego Rubio 2. Mills, Keilon Davis 16, Kylan Deadmon 6, Achilles Ringo 6, Q.J. King 6.
DEFENSE    
PUNTS/YARDS/AVERAGE/INSIDE THE 20/BLOCKED: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook  1/36/36/1/0.
SACKS/YARDS LOST: Mills, Wesley Guy 1/11, Hunter Lowery 1/8, Nikolas Watson 1/4.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Heber Springs, Kenan Sneed, Diego Rubio (onside kick), Chris Edwards (onside kick). Mills, Wesley Guy.
INTERCEPTIONS: Mills, Carlos Deadmon

Panther GameDay: Comets soar into Heber Springs

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs, like other Arkansas high schools, didn’t know in August if Friday night football would happen in 2020.

COVID-19 changed the game, but teams received the go–ahead in early September to start the season.

The Panthers accomplished a goal of completing the regular season by hosting Little Rock Mills in a 2-4A Conference game at 7 p.m. Friday.
Heber Springs (1-5 conference, 2-7 overall) will seek to rebound from last week’s 32-26 loss at Clinton. Mills (2-4 conference, 3-6 overall) is coming off a 14-6 win against Southside Batesville at home.

“We were looking in the beginning to get three nonconference games in,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “After that, we wanted to make it through the conference season. We are ready to finish the conference season.”

Under normal circumstances, Heber Springs would be fighting for a playoff berth. The Arkansas Activities Association is allowing all teams an option of playing in the postseason because of games statewide being canceled during the season because of COVID-19.

Wood said the plan is to participate in the new postseason format with a win against the Comets. He said if the Panthers lose, the decision to continue playing would be re-evaluated

Schools will have until 8 a.m. Saturday to notify the AAA if they want to opt out of the playoffs. The AAA is expected to announce the complete postseason field by late Saturday.

“It was a tough situation this week for the players, but they understand they need to come back and play well,” Wood said.  “Our focus has been to fix our mistakes from the Clinton game and prepare for Mills. It’s probably the final home game for the seniors. They want to leave something good for their teammates and can do that by playing well against Mills.”

The Panthers can earn a No. 5 seed with a win and if Clinton loses at Lonoke and Southside defeats Bald Knob. If that occurs, it would come down to the point system.

Wood explained to his players not to worry about any playoff game, just focus on defeating Mills.

“Mills will be big and physical with a fast quarterback and speedy running backs,” he said. “We need to get every guy to the ball and make tackles. Mills wants to run the ball first, but they will pass. We are preparing to stop the running game.”
Heber Springs and the Comets have wins against a common opponent — Southside. Mills’ other conference win was against Clinton.

Wood said consistency on offense will be one of the keys for a victory. Nathan McKee, the Panthers’ leading receiver on the season, left with an ankle injury during the third quarter of the Clinton game. Wood said McKee returned to practice Wednesday and expected to play on Friday. McKee has caught 42 catches for 546 yards and three touchdowns.

Senior quarterback Matthew Cook will be one of the players to watch. Cook has completed 107-of-194 passes for 1,265 yards and nine touchdowns. He also is a threat in the running game with 415 yards on 105 carries and scored four touchdowns.

Senior Diego Rubio has rushed for 383 yards on 81 attempts and scored eight touchdowns.

“We hope Nathan will be ready to go on Friday,” Wood said. “It is important that we execute well in all areas on offense. We need to get into a good rhythm and do a good job of holding onto the ball.”

Wood said it’s important for the running game to become more productive against Mills, which plays a four-man front.

“Our running game will be important,” Wood said. “Mills will play a four-man front and the players are strong. We need to execute the little things better and put them in bad situations. We plan to spread out Mills’ defense and take advantage of its weaknesses.

“We want to end the regular season with a win.”

2A-4 CONFERENCE STANDINGS

                            W L CP  W L PS  PA 
Stuttgart                   6 0 78  8 0 323  47 
Central Arkansas Christian  5 1 51  8 1 266 194
Lonoke                      4 2 44  6 3 310 252
Bald Knob                   3 3 32  5 4 226 186  
Little Rock Mills           2 4 19  3 6 178 237  
Clinton                     2 4 12  2 7 197 356 
Heber Springs               1 5  5  2 7 176 304
Southside Batesville        1 5 13  2 7 157 255   
 
 
Friday, October 30
Clinton 32, Heber Springs 26
Bald Knob 35, Central Arkansas Christian 14
Little Rock Mills 14, Southside Batesville 6
Stuttgart 53, Lonoke 14

Friday, November 6
Little Rock Mills at Heber Springs
Clinton at Lonoke
Stuttgart at Central Arkansas Christian
Bald Knob at Southside Batesville
  • Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Panther Stadium
  • Admission: $5
  • Radio/Streaming: Billy Morgan will handle the play-by-play while Lance Hamilton with handle the color on KSUG 101.9 The Lake. Panther Pregame begins at 6:45 p.m. followed by the game.  Listen Live Link

GAME NOTES

THE SERIES: Heber Springs leads the series 2-0.

SERIES HISTORY: Though this is the third time the Panthers have faced Little Rock Mills, Heber Springs did play the two of the schools that consolidated to form Mills University Studies. The Panthers went 0-4 from 1955 through 1959 against Little Rock Fuller, and 0-3-1 against Mabelvale from 1955 through 1958. Heber Springs won last season, 28-14 at Mills, and 47-6 in 2018 at Panther Stadium.

CONFERENCE SEEDING: Stuttgart has clinched at least the No. 2 seed, a win gives the Ricebirds the No. 2 seed. CAC gets the No. 1 seed with a win and the No. 2 seed with a loss. Lonoke and Bald Knob have clinched the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds regardless of tonight’s outcomes. The No. 5 seed goes to Mills with a win tonight in Panther Stadium otherwise the No. 5 seed will go to conference points with either Clinton, Mills or Heber Springs getting the fifth seed. Heber Springs would get the No. 5 seed with a win by at least 8 points and a Clinton loss. Clinton would get the No. 5 seed with a win and a Mills loss. Mills could still get the No. 5 seed with a loss if Clinton losses to Lonoke and the Panthers win by 7 or less. The sixth- through eighth-seeded teams can opt-in into the playoffs (because of Covid) this season, but have to declare their intentions tomorrow to the Arkansas Activities Association.

Panther PostGame

Heber Springs tops Mills, heads to playoffs

Heber Springs’ Hunter Kent (21) and Nathan McKee (22) celebrate a touchdown against Mills Friday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

November 8, 2019

By PHILIP SEATON

LITTLE ROCK – With a playoff berth and seeding secured for Heber Springs, the Panthers took care of business Friday night with a 28-14 victory over Little Rock Mills.

Earlier in the week the drama had been taken out of Friday’s night game when the Arkansas Activities Association ruled that the Comets had used an ineligible player forcing the Mills to forfeit all four of their wins, including all three conference contests. That ruling assured that the Panthers would be in the playoffs regardless of the outcome of Friday’s game.

Friday night Adam Martin passed for two touchdowns and ran for another while Nathan McKee caught one of those touchdown passes and also had an interception in the win.

The two teams traded possessions to open the contest before the Panthers took over on their own 47 driving to the Mills 13 before the drive stalled on fourth down.

The Comets took over and drove to the Heber Springs 47 after converting on a fourth-and-3 play. On the next play, Lavell Carnell connected with Zack Smith for a 47-yard scoring strike to make it 6-0 after the PAT kick failed with 11:01 to play in the half.

The Panthers responded with an 11-play, 60-yard drive that Martin capped with a 5-yard touchdown run with 6:51 to play in the first half. Jackson Harrod kicked the PAT and Heber Springs led, 7-6

The Panther defense got a stop on the Comets next possession stopping Mills on a fourth-and-3 own their own 40 for a two-yard loss. On the next play, Martin found Hunter Kent in stride for a 38-yard touchdown pass with 3:31 to play in the second quarter.

Mills had a response with a 55-yard drive that Carnell finished off with a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 9 seconds left in the half. Carnell added the two-point conversion to make it 14-all at the break.

Nicholas Hitchcock recovered the onside-kick attempt for Heber Springs to start the second half, and the Panthers appeared to be marching in for a score after Martin connected with Landon Johnson for a 29-yard gain on third-and-10 to move the ball to the Mills 15. But Martin was sacked for a 6-yard loss by Shon Moore forcing a third-and-14, Heber Springs was unable to convert turning the ball over on downs at the Comet 10.

The Panther defense came up big keeping Mills pinned inside the 10, including almost recording a safety on back-to-back to plays. Punting from his own end zone, Carnell shanked the punt giving Heber Springs a short field at the Comet 13.

Four plays later Julio Rubio punched the ball in from the 2 to make it 21-14 with 6:10 left in the third quarter.

Mills’ next drive stalled the Panther 38 when McKee stepped in front of the Carnell pass attempt at the 20 returning to the 36. But Heber Springs went backwards on the ensuing drive thanks in part to holding and false start penalties.

The Panthers got another turnover as junior Diego Rubio pounced on a loose football at the Heber Springs 46, the third straight week Rubio has recovered a fumble. Back-t0-back unsportsmanlike penalties against the Comets after the fumble, which led to the ejection of Carnell, gave the Panthers the ball on the 24.

On the ensuing play, Martin connected with McKee to put Heber Springs up 28-14 with 53 seconds left in the third.

Mills threatened again with 9:06 left after Julius Graves intercepted a Martin pass attempt at the Panther 21, but the Panther defense stiffened in the red zone forcing the Comets to turn the ball over on downs at the 9.

After a three-and-out, Mills got the ball back with 4:37 left at the Panther 40 and reached the Panther 7 with 1:02 to play but an incomplete pass on fourth down sealed the win for Heber Springs.

COACH WILL COX POSTGAME COMMENTS

Heber Springs’ Matthew Cook

SCORING

Heber Springs (4-3, 4-6)                 0  14   0   0  - 14    
Little Rock Mills (0-7, 0-10             0  14  14   0  - 28    

SECOND QUARTER    
Mills - Lavell Carnell to Zack Smith 47-yard pass (kick failed), 11:01 
Heber Springs - Adam Martin 5-yard run (Jackson Harrod kick), 6:51
Heber Springs - Adam Martin to Hunter Kent 38-yard pass (Harrod kick), 3:31
Mills - Carnell 1-yard run (Carnell run), :09
THIRD QUARTER    
Heber Springs - Julio Rubio 2-yard run (Harrod Kick), 6:10
Heber Springs - Martin to Nathan McKee 24-yard pass (Harrod kick), :53
Heber Springs’ Adam Martin

TEAM STATS

First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 6, Mills 8
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 9, Mills 3
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 0, Mills 1
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 15, Mills 12
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 4/11, Mills 4/16
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 0/2, Mills 5/8
Red-Zone Conversions: Heber Springs 2/4, Mills 1/3
Time of Possession: Heber Springs 23:23, Mill 24:37
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 0/0, Mills 2/2
Turnovers: Heber Springs 1, Mills 3   
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 7, Mills 0
Penalties: Heber Springs 8/53, Mills 11/90
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 57/246/4.3, Mills 64/224/3.5
Rushing: Heber Springs 28/70/2.5, Mills 41/121/2.9
Passing: Heber Springs 19/29-176-2/1, Mills 9/23-103-1/1 
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 1/0, Mills 2/15
Punts: Heber Springs 3/94/31.3, Mills 3/82/27.3
Punts Inside 20: Heber Springs 1, Mills 0
Heber Springs’ Nathan McKee with a second-half interception return. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

INDIVIDUAL STATS

OFFENSE 
RUSHING: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio 12/39/3.3/1, Adam Martin 10/29/2.9/1, Team 4/(-10)/(-2.5), Landon Johnson 2/12/6. Mills, Lavell Carnell 16/45/2.8, Reggie Swinton II 13/41/3.2, Keilon Davis 7/34/8.0, G'Kyson Wright 5/1.
RUSHING RUNS OF 20+: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio (1) 
RUSHING RUNS OF 10+: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio (2), Adam Martin (1). Mills, Lavell Carnell (2), Reggie Swinton II (1)
PASSING: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 19/29-176-2/1. Mills, Lavell Carnell 7/14-77-1/1, G'Kyson Wright 2/9-26-0/0
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 6/62/1, Landon Johnson 5/49, Hunter Kent 3/41/1, Matthew Cook 3/10, Fate Berry 1/12, Julio Rubio 1/2. Mills, Zack Smith 5/90/1, Keilon Davis 2/5, Kammarion Slade 1/6, Eugene Hinton 1/2.
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 205, Julio Rubio 39, Landon Johnson 12, Team (-10). Mills, Lavell Carnell 122, Reggie Swinton II 41, Keilon Davis 34, G'Kyson Wright 27.
PUNT RETURNS: Mills, Keilon Davis 1/11.
KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 1/14, Hunter Kent 1/6. Mills, Keilon Davis 2/25, Tamarion Hunter 2/12.
FUMBLE RETURNS: None 
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 1/16. Mills, Julius Graves 1/14
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 92, Landon Johnson 61, Hunter Kent 47, Julio Rubio 41, Adam Martin 29, Fate Berry 12, Matthew Cook 10. Mills, Zack Smith 90, Keilon Davis 75, Lavell Carnall 45, Reggie Swinton II 41, Tamarion Hunter 12, Kammarion Slade 6, Eugene Hinton 2, G'Kyson Wright 1.  
DEFENSE 
TACKLES (Shared/Solo/Total): Heber Springs, Landon Johnson 14/1/15, Lawrence Baureis 9/1/10, Fate Berry 7/2/9, Nathan McKee 7/2/9, Nicholas Hitchcock 6/2/8, Julio Rubio 4/3/7, Diego Rubio 7/0/7, Kaden Hughes 4/1/5, Matthew Cook 2/2/4, Dalton McCollum 3/0/3, Levy Phillips 2/0/2, Hunter Kent 2/0/2, Trevor Weathers 1/0/1, Jackson Harrod 1/0/1 
TACKLES FOR LOSS: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio 6, Lawrence Baureis 4, Kaden Hughes 2, Nicholas Hitchcock 2, Landon Johnson 1, Nathan McKee 1
SACKS: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio .5, Landon Johnson .5. Mills, Eddie Brown 1/9, Shon Moore 1/6.
INTERCEPTIONS: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee. Mills, Julius Graves
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Heber Springs, Nicholas Hitchcock, Diego Rubio
PUNTING: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 3/94/31.3. Mills, Lavell Carnall 2/33/22, G'Kyson Wright 1/38
PUNTS INSIDE 20: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (1).

ALMA MATER

FINAL 4A-2 STANDINGS

                            W L CP  W L  PS  PA   
Riverview                   5 2 52  7 3  337 278 
Southside Batesville        5 2 54  7 3  340 246
Central Arkansas Christian  5 2 59  7 3  296 220       
Lonoke                      5 2 47  6 4  293 297
Heber Springs               4 3 41  4 6  274 300        
Bald Knob                   3 4 13  3 7  160 310                 
Stuttgart                   1 7 13  1 9  238 341
Little Rock Mills           0 8  0  0 10 202 264    

Friday, November 1
Central Arkansas Christian 34, Bald Knob 6
Heber Springs 49, Riverview 35
Lonoke 35, Stuttgart 28
Southside Batesville 50, Little Rock Mills 23

Thursday, November 7
Lonoke 26, Riverview 14
Central Arkansas Christian 28, Stuttgart 6

Friday, November 8
Bald Knob 27, Southside Batesville 22
Heber Springs 28, Little Rock Mills 14

CORRECTION FROM LAST WEEK: In preparing the playoff scenarios for the 4A-2 in Friday’s game preview, the conference point was incorrect for Riverview. With the forfeits by Mills, every team that played them in conference received 13 conference points. Riverview had defeated Mills by 10, 37-27, October 11 but those adjusted points were inadvertently left out of the conference totals in Friday’s preview.

CONFERENCE CHAMPS: With Bald Knob’s win over Southside Batesville Friday night, it created a four-way tie at the top of the conference standings. As a result, Lonoke, Riverview, Southside Batesville and CAC all claim a share of the conference crown. It is the first conference title for Riverview. The fifth for CAC. The second for Southside Batesville and the 13th for Lonoke.

PLAYOFFS: No. 1 Riverview hosts Bauxite, No. 2 Southside Batesville hosts Star City, No. 3 CAC hosts Gentry, No. 4 Lonoke travels to Pea Ridge and No. 5 Heber Springs travels to Shiloh Christian.

VIDEO CLIPS

By BILLY SMALLWOOD

Panther GameDay

Panthers head to Mills, playoffs guaranteed

LAST WEEK

Panthers clinch berth with Senior Night win

LAST YEAR

Panthers crush Comets, head to playoffs

4A-2 STANDINGS

                            W L CP  W L PS  PA   
Southside Batesville        5 1 54  7 2 318 219
Central Arkansas Christian  5 2 59  7 3 296 220  
Riverview                   5 2 49  7 3 337 278        
Lonoke                      5 2 47  6 4 293 297
Heber Springs               3 3 28  3 6 246 286        
Bald Knob                   2 4  8  2 7 133 288                 
Stuttgart                   1 6 13  1 9 238 341
Little Rock Mills           0 6  0  0 9 188 236    

Friday, November 1
Central Arkansas Christian 34, Bald Knob 6
Heber Springs 49, Riverview 35
Lonoke 35, Stuttgart 28
Southside Batesville 50, Little Rock Mills 23

Thursday, November 7
Lonoke 26, Riverview 14
Central Arkansas Christian 28, Stuttgart 6

Friday, November 8
Bald Knob at Southside Batesville
Heber Springs at Little Rock Mills

PLAYOFFS

Due to Little Rock Mills forfeiting four wins due to the use of an ineligible player on Monday and Thursday’s results, Heber Springs is locked in the No. 5 seed regardless of the outcome of tonight’s contest with Little Rock Mills. The rest of the conference seeding is set as well, the seeding will be: No. 1 Southside Batesville, No. 2 Riverview, No. 3 Central Arkansas Christian, No. 4 Lonoke and No. 5 Heber Springs.

The only thing left to be determined is if Southside Batesville clinches the outright conference title or has to share it with Riverview, CAC and Lonoke. The seeding will not change regardless of the outcomes.

Playoff Match-Ups for 2A-4

DeWitt at Southside Batesville, Star City at Riverview, Gentry/Gravette/Prairie Grove at Central Arkansas Christian, Lonoke at Pea Ridge/Shiloh Christian loser, and Heber Springs at Pea Ridge/Shiloh Christian winner.

CONSECUTIVE STREAK: Heber Springs has qualified for the playoffs for six straight seasons, and 13 out of the last 14 years.

HEBER SPRINGS COACH WILL COX

GAME NOTES

THE SERIES: Heber Springs leads the series 1-0.

SERIES HISTORY: Though this is the second time the Panthers have faced Little Rock Mills, Heber Springs did play the two of the schools that consolidated to form Mills University Studies. The Panthers went 0-4 from 1955 through 1959 against Little Rock Fuller, and 0-3-1 against Mabelvale from 1955 through 1958.

CLOSE TO A THOUSAND: Julio Rubio needs 43 yards rushing tonight against Little Rock Mills to top the 1,000-yard mark this season. The senior has carried the ball 164 times this season for 957 yards with 14 touchdowns.

WINS, BUT NOT REALLY: Mills had won four games before the forfeiting those contests because of the use of an ineligible player earlier this week. The Comets, under first-year coach Cortez Lee — the former Pine Bluff Dollarway head coach, had defeated Jacksonville in nonconference play, before beating Central Arkansas Christian, Lonoke and Stuttgart.

MISTAKES: Heber Springs is 2-1 on the season when committing 5 or less infractions, and 1-5 when being flagged more than five times. The lone loss was at Greenbrier when Heber Springs was flagged only four times, but turned the ball over three times in that contest.

SON OF FORMER NFL PLAYER: Mills’ Reggie Swinton II is the son of former Dallas Cowboy Reggie Swinton.

SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: NATE DEARMOND

SEASON STATS

Heber Springs 54 76 40 76 - 246 (27.3)  
Opponent      46 83 90 67 - 286 (31.8)  

TEAM  
First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 94, Opponent 102  
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 55, Opponent 51  
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 7, Opponent 10  
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 156, Opponent 162  
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 52/110 (47.3), Opponent 38/97 (39.2)  
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 12/29 (41.4), Opponent 13/25 (52)  
Red-Zone Conversions: Heber Springs 23/30 (76.7) (23 tds), Opponent 28/36 (77.8) (26 tds, 2 FG)  
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 16/8, Opponent 15/7  
Turnovers: Heber Springs 15, Opponent 10  
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 41, Opponent 28 
Penalties/Yards: Heber Springs 73/545, Opponent 60/609 
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 555/3281/5.9, Opponent 540/3046/5.6  
Rushing: Heber Springs 367/1914/5.2, Opponent 393/1876/4.8 
Rushing Per Game: Heber Springs 212.7, Opponent 208.4  
Passing: Heber Springs 107/182-1366-10/7, Opponent 100/167-1208-16/3 
Completion Percentage: Heber Springs 58.8, Opponent 59.9
Passing Per Game: Heber Springs 151.8, Opponent 134.2 
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 19/107, Opponent 10/49  
Punts: Heber Springs 26/1026/39.5, Opponent 26/893/34.4
Blocked Punts: Heber Springs 1 
 
INDIVIDUAL  
OFFENSE  
RUSHING (ATT/YARDS/PER ATTEMPT/PER GAME/TDS): Julio Rubio 164/957/5.8/106.3/14, Adam Martin 151/698/4.6/77.6/7, Landon Johnson 50/227/4.5/25.2/5, Levy Phillips 4/21, Nathan McKee 1/6, Diego Rubio 1/2, Tri Johnson 1/(-2), Team 2/(-41)  
RUNS OF 50+: Julio Rubio 2, Adam, Martin 1 
RUNS OF 40+: Julio Rubio 3  Adam Martin 1
RUNS OF 30+: Julio Rubio 5, Adam Martin 2  
RUNS OF 20+: Julio Rubio 9, Adam Martin 7, Landon Johnson 1 
RUNS OF 10+: Adam Martin 23, Julio Rubio 23, Landon Johnson 4, Levy Phillips 1 
100-YARD RUSHING GAMES: Julio Rubio 5, Adam Martin 3   
PASSING (ATT/COMP-YARDS-TDS/INT): Adam Martin 107/182-1366-10/7     
250-YARD PASSING GAMES: Adam Martin 1  
RECEIVING (REC/YARDS/PER CATCH/TDS): Matthew Cook 19/188/9.9/1, Nathan McKee 18/212/11.8/2, Landon Johnson 16/212/13.3/2, Fate Berry 13/182/14/1, Hunter Kent 13/170/13.1/2, Tri Johnson 12/208/17.3/2, Julio Rubio 12/143/11.9, Jackson West 1/18, Dalton McCollum 1/9, Diego Rubio 1/8  
100-YARD RECEIVING GAMES: Hunter Kent 1, Tri Johnson 1, Julio Rubio 1  
TOTAL OFFENSE (OFFENSE/PER GAME): Adam Martin 2064/229.3, Julio Rubio 957/106.3, Landon Johnson 227/25.2, Levy Phillips 21, Nathan McKee 6, Diego Rubio 2, Tri Johnson (-2), Team (-41)  
KICKOFF RETURNS: Tri Johnson 8/170/21.3, Matthew Cook 4/62/15.5, Hunter Kent 5/46/9.2, Julio Rubio 3/44/14.7, Levy Phillips 4/37/9.3, Jackson West 4/39/9.8, Diego Rubio 2/37/18.5, Nathan McKee 5/65/13, Lawrence Baureis 1/10, Harley Bresnahan 1/ 6, Tristan  Thissen 1/0.  
PUNT RETURNS: Nathan McKee 3/12, Tri Johnson 1/(-3) 
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Nathan McKee 1/10, Dalton McCollum 1/4, Fate Berry 1/2  
FUMBLE RETURNS: Matthew Cook 1/4 
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS (YARDS/PER GAME): Julio Rubio 1037/129.6, Adam Martin 698/77.6, Tri Johnson 373/53.3, Landon Johnson 438/48.7, Nathan McKee 305/33.9, Matthew Cook 254/28.2, Fate Berry 184/23, Hunter Kent 216/24, Diego Rubio 47/5.9, Jackson West 57/6.3, Levy Phillips 58/7.3,  Lawrence Baureis 10/1.7, Harley Bresnahan 6/1, Dalton McCollum 13/1.6,   
DEFENSE  
TACKLES (ASST/SOLO/TOTAL): Fate Berry 66/24/90, Landon Johnson 56/25/81, Diego Rubio 40/13/53, Kaden Hughes 27/13/40, Hunter Kent 27/11/38,  Nathan McKee 26/11/37,  Levy Phillips 22/11/33, Lawrence Baureis 21/9/30, Matthew Cook 25/5/30, Nicholas Hitchcock 21/6/27, Jackson West 22/4/26, Tri Johnson 9/5/14, Dalton McCollum 8/5/13, Julio Rubio 9/3/12,  Harley Bresnhan 6/4/10,  Trevor Weathers 7/1/8, Preston Jones 2/2/5, Harley Hannah 3/2/5, Hunter Griffin 3/1/4, Devon Doxey 3/1/4, Tristan Thissen 1/2/3, Trent Barnes 2/1/3, Jackson Harrod 2/1/3, Nate Dearmond 0/1/1, Spencer Evans 1/0/1, Gus Hannah 1/0/1.  
TACKLES FOR LOSS:  Fate Berry 15, Landon Johnson 14.5, Kaden Hughes 9.5, Diego Rubio 7, Nicholas Hitchcock 4.5, Julio Rubio 3, Lawrence Baureis 3, Levy Phillips 2, Jackson West 2, Tri Johnson 1.5,  Hunter Griffin 1, Harley Bresnahan 1, Devon Doxey 1.  
SACKS/YARDS LOST:  Fate Berry 4/28, Kaden Hughes 4/24,  Tri Johnson 2.5/22, Levy Phillips 1/ 5, Harley Bresnahan 1/ 4,  Diego Rubio 1/5, Julio Rubio .5/9, Landon Johnson .5/3, Matthew Cook .5/3, Nicholas Hitchcock .5/4. 
INTERCEPTIONS: Dalton McCollum 1, Nathan McKee 1, Fate Berry 1  
DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Hunter Kent 2, Diego Rubio 2, Nicholas Hitchcock 1,  Nathan McKee 1, Landon Johnson 1,    
BLOCKED PUNTS: Kaden Hughes 1
PUNTING (No./Yards/Avg./Inside20): Adam Martin  25/993/39.7/6, Matthew Cook 1/33/33
SCORING: Julio Rubio 84 (14 tds),  Adam Martin 48 (8 td), Landon Johnson 36 (6 tds), Jackson Harrod 30 (30-33 PAT, 0-1 FG), Hunter Kent 12 (2 td), Nathan McKee 12 (2 td), Tri Johnson 12 (2 td), Fate Berry 6 (1 td), Matthew Cook 6 (1 td) 

SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: BRANDON TATE

MARKEDTIME.COM PLAYERS OF WEEK

WEEK 9 vs RIVERVIEW

OFFENSE – Hunter Kent. DEFENSE – Diego Rubio

WEEK 8 vs SOUTHSIDE BATESVILLE

OFFENSE – Julio Rubio. DEFENSE – Diego Rubio

WEEK 7 vs. BALD KNOB

OFFENSE – Landon Johnson. DEFENSE – Fate Berry

WEEK 6 vs. CAC

OFFENSE – Julio Rubio. DEFENSE – Kaden Hughes

WEEK 5 vs. STUTTGART

OFFENSE – Adam Martin. DEFENSE – Nathan McKee

WEEK 4 vs. LONOKE

OFFENSE – Fate Berry. DEFENSE – Landon Johnson

WEEK 3 vs. HARDING ACADEMY

OFFENSE – Tri Johnson. DEFENSE – Dalton McCollum

WEEK 2 vs. GREENBRIER

OFFENSE – Harley Hannah. DEFENSE – Levy Phillips

WEEK 1 vs. CLINTON

OFFENSE – Adam Martin and Julio Rubio. DEFENSE – Fate Berry

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Panthers crush the Comets, head to playoffs

November 2, 2018

By PHILIP SEATON

HEBER SPRINGS – The Heber Springs Panthers accomplished what they needed too in a 47-6 4A-2 victory over Little Rock Mills, and even left with a couple of records.

Coming into Friday night’s contest at Panther Stadium against winless Little Rock Mills, Heber Springs coach Darren Gowen had said he was more concerned about his team, how they played and more importantly, that his team just had fun.

It would be easy to say that happened on a night that seniors were honored before the game.

Senior running back Blaze Nelson rushed eight times for 198 yards and four touchdowns while the defense held Mills to 80 yards of total offense in the first half as the Panthers built up a 40-0 lead at the break and emptied the bench in the second half.

“We got everybody in there, even the foreign exchange students,” Gowen said. “It was great to take care of business like we needed to, get everybody on the field, stay healthy and get ready for the playoffs.”

Heber Springs (6-4, 6-1 in 4A-2) almost got a gift from the Central Arkansas Christian Mustangs on Friday night, but a last second field goal that would have sent that game into overtime fell short as Stuttgart claimed a 30-27 victory and the overall conference crown — a Ricebird loss would have given the Panthers a share of the 4A-2 title. 

Heber Springs will head into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed and host Pocahontas (4-6) Friday night at 7 p.m. at Panther Stadium.

Against the Comets, it didn’t take long for the Panthers to strike. After a 15-yard run by senior Dalton Hall on the games first play from scrimmage, Nelson raced past the Mills defenders for a 65-yard score. The Julian Cameron PAT kick made it 7-0 with 11:27 to play in the first quarter.

Mills followed with a nine-play drive that netted only seven yards but ate more than three minutes off the clock before Heber Springs would take over on Comet 44. After a pair of Nelson runs, Adam Martin connected with senior Rocky Finney for a 19-yard completion that put the ball on the 2. From there, Nelson would run up the middle to make 14-0 with 5:52 left in the first quarter.

Mills (0-10, 0-7) then put together a 14-play, 61-yard drive that netted nearly all of its first-half offense and pushed the ball to the Panther 18. But the Heber Springs first-team defense, which has allowed only four touchdowns during the Panther’s five-game winning streak to close the regular season, stopped the Comets a yard short on fourth-and-2.

Nelson took over from the carrying twice before finally breaking free on his third carry of the drive for a 76-yard touchdown run to make it 21-0 with 10:07 left to play in the first half.

Sophomore Matthew Cook got the ball right back for Heber Springs when he stepped in front of Braelon Adams pass attempt on the Comets first play from scrimmage on the drive and returned it 27 yards. 

The Panthers didn’t waste any time as Martin hit Finney in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-0 with 9:28 left in the second quarter.

After a three-and-out, Hall tackled the Mills punter in the end zone for a safety to make it 30-0 at the 7:38 mark.

On the ensuing possession after the Comet free kick, Nelson raced 23 yards to score his 26th rushing touchdown of the season to make it 37-0 Heber Springs with 5:17 left in the half. The 26 rushing touchdowns by Nelson ties a school record set by Braylon Mitchell in 2009.

Heber Springs would add one more score in the first half when Cameron connected on a 35-yard field goal attempt with 11 seconds left on the clock.

With the Arkansas Activities Association Mercy Rule in effect in the second half, Heber Springs added one more score when sophomore Diego Rubio scored on a 17-yard run. Seth Dickeson hit the PAT kick to make 47-0 with 8:38 left in the third.

Mills’ Demetrius Abernathy set the final score with a six-yard run with 43 seconds to play in the third quarter.

TEAM STATS

First Downs: Heber Springs 10, Mills 10

Third-Downs: Heber Springs 2-5, Mills 2-8

Fourth-Downs: Heber Springs 0-0, Mills 2-4

Rushing Att.-Yards-Avg: Heber Springs 25-296-11.8, Mills 32-143-4.5

Passing Comp.-Att-Yards-Int: Heber Springs 4-5 67 0, Mills 5-11 54 2

Total Offense: Heber Springs 363, Mills 197

Sacks-Yards: Heber Springs 1-0, Mills 0-0

Penalties-Yards: Heber Springs 7-55, Mills 2-15

Fumbles-Lost: Heber Springs 0-0, Mills 4-1

Punts-Avg.: Heber Springs 1-53, Mills 2-26.5

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Rushing: Heber Springs, Blaze Nelson 8-198-4, Jackson West 5-17, Diego Rubio 4-31-1, Levy Phillips 4-31, Adam Martin 3-4, Dalton Hall 1-15. Mills, Braelon Adams 14-84, Terryn Withers 9-20, Malik Bean 4-33, Demetrius Abernathy 2-14, Favionne Bell 1-4, Logan Archer 1-(-2), Landen Epps 1-(-10).

Passing: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 4-5 67 1-0. Mills, Braleon Adams 5-11 54 0-2.

Receiving: Heber Springs, Rocky Finney 2-51-1, Seth Dickeson 1-9, Landon Johnson 1-7. Mills, Jaden Withers 4-42, Malik Bean 1-12.