Junior Panthers open with win over Clinton

Heber Springs ninth-grader Liam Buffalo looks for an open receiver in the junior Panthers, 34-32, win over Clinton Thursday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

HEBER SPRINGS – Heber Springs Liam Buffalo rushed for 143 and a pair of touchdowns, and passed for another, as the junior Panthers opened their season with a 32-28 nonconference victory over Clinton.

The two teams will meet again on Oct. 28 in Clinton in a conference contest.

On Thursday, the Panthers were limited to eight offensive possessions and 23 plays from scrimmage, but made the most of them. Heber Springs scored four times, punted once, had a drive stall at midfield and had drives ended by the half and game.

On the Panthers first play from scrimmage, Weston Warden took a pitch from Buffalo and raced 68 yards to put Heber Springs on top with less than 15 seconds gone in the game. Buffalo ran in the 2-point conversion.

The two teams traded punts before the Panther defense forced another Yellowjacket punt as Warden returned the Brodie Dufrene punt 19 yards to the Clinton 33 with 1:41 left in the first quarter.

On the next play, Buffalo kept the ball and rambled 33 yards for the score. Buffalo connected with Carter Julian for the 2-point conversion and the Panthers led 16-0 with 1:31 to play in the quarter.

After another Clinton punt, Heber Springs took over on their own 39, but a penalty pushed the Panthers back 15 yards and killed the drive at the 41.

From there, Clinton moved the ball 41 yards on a six-play drive that Dufrene capped off with a 1-yard run. Dufrene connected Sam Standridge for the 2-point conversion with 4:24 to play in the half.

The Yellowjackets onside-kick failed and Heber Springs took over at the Clinton 49. After an 11-yard run by Buffalo, the ninth-grader connected with Julian for a 38-yard touchdown pass. Buffalo ran in the 2-point conversion and Heber Springs led 24-8 with 4:03 left in the half.

Clinton then killed all but 10 seconds of the second quarter with a 13-play, 60-yard drive that Rope Williams capped with a 1-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion failed as Heber Springs led 24-14 at the break.

The Yellowjackets took the second-half kickoff and then proceeded with an 18-play, 70-yard drive that ate all of the third-quarter clock and two minutes of the fourth quarter as Zack Hunt-Gonzalez scored from seven yards. Joshua Fultz scored the 2-point conversion on a pass from Dufrene.

Just over 30 seconds later, Heber Springs answered as Buffalo hit Seth Dudeck for a 42-yard completion and then ran the ball in from the 16 on the next play. Buffalo connected with Warden for the 2-point conversion and Heber Springs led 32-22 with 5:20 to play.

Clinton would not go quietly scoring another touchdown less than three minutes when Hunt-Gonzalez scored on a 2-yard run. The 2-point conversion failed.

Buffalo ran for 18 yards and connected with Warden for another 18 yards as the Panthers were able to kill the clock and earn the win.

Heber Springs finished the night with almost 300 yards of total offense despite missing several starters due to Covid protocols.

Heber Springs will return to action on Sept. 9 at Harding Academy in a nonconference contest.

HEBER SPRINGS/CLINTON GAME STATS

FIRST DOWNS: HS 10, C 15
PENALITIES: HS 3/35, C 5/25
RUSHING: HS 14/194/13.9, C 42/90/2.1
FUMBLES: HS 0, C 0
PASSING (C/A-YARDS) HS 4/9-98, C 9/15-87
INTERCEPTIONS: HS 0, C 0
SACKED-YARDS LOST: HS 0, C 1-8
TOTAL OFFENSE: HS 292, C 177
TURNOVERS: HS 0, C 0
ONSIDE KICKS: HS 0/0, C 0/3
2-PT CONVERSIONS: HS 4/4, C 2/4
PUNTS/AVG: HS 1/48, C 3/29.3

RUSHING (ATT/YARDS/TDS): HS, Liam Buffalo 8/143/2, Weston Warden 3/65/1, Logan Rutledge 1/(-2), Team 2/(-12). Clinton, Rope Williams 12/37/1, Rylan Jones 11/40, Zack Hunt-Gonzalez 10/45/2, Brodie Dufrene 5/3/1, Sam Standridge 3/4, Brayson Littell 1/1. 
PASSING (COMP/ATT-YARDS-TDS/INTS): HS, Buffalo 4/9-98-1/0. Clinton, Dufrene 9/14-87-0/0, Littell 0/1-0-0/0
RECEIVING: HS, Seth Dudeck 1/42, Carter Julian 1/38/1, Warden 1/12, Rutledge 1/10. Clinton, Standridge 3/29, Jones 3/20, Liam Hudson 2/25, Williams 1/13.

HEBER SPRINGS JUNIOR HIGH SCHEDULE

(All Games Start at 7 p.m.)

Aug. 26 – Heber Springs 32, Clinton 28

Sep. 09 – at Harding Academy

Sep. 16 – Dover

Sep. 23 – at Lonoke *

Sep. 28 – Stuttgart *

Oct. 07 – at Central Arkansas Christian *

Oct. 14 – Bald Knob *

Oct. 21 – at Southside Batesville *

Oct. 28 – at Clinton *

(* – Denotes conference contest)

HEBER SPRINGS JUNIOR HIGH ROSTER

(Alphabetical and listed with grade)

8TH- Eli Buffalo

9TH – Liam Buffalo

8TH- Caleb Carr

9TH – Axley Davis

8TH- Seth Dudeck

8TH- Jack Duvall

8TH- Emitt Dwyer

9TH- Tyler Dye

8TH- Nate Eaton

9TH – Luke Elliott

8TH – Nash Farmer

8TH- Lucas Garcia

8TH – Britt Grice

8TH- Cooper Holmes

8TH- Cade James

8TH- Tripp Johnston

8TH – Elijah Jones

9TH – Carter Julian

9TH – Jacob McMullin

9TH – Justin Newton

9TH – Braidyn Ogle

9TH – Gauge Owens

8TH – Casey Pearce

9TH – Crimson Pettigrew

9TH – Logan Rutledge

8TH- Jeremiah Sanders

8TH- Seth Smith

9TH – Damien Standridge

9TH- Weston Warden

9TH- Ty West

8TH – John Wilson

Panther 7th-graders fall in opener

Heber Springs’ Samuel Bush attempts to get a pass over a trio of Clinton defenders Thursday night at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

HEBER SPRINGS – The Heber Springs seventh-grade Panthers came up short as Clinton defeated the Cubs, 16-14.

Heber Springs struck first with Samuel Bush touchdown, but Clinton responded on a Dereck Infante touchdown run and a Keegan Rose 2-point conversion to lead 8-6 with just over seven minutes to play in the first half.

The Panthers moved the ball deep into Clinton territory before halftime after a long run by Landon Brown, a Lachlan Tubbs to Rhett Herring pass and a nice run by Bush, but Heber Springs couldn’t push the ball in the end zone and turned the ball over on downs. The Panthers trailed 8-6 at the break.

Clinton took a a 16-6 advantage after another Infante touchdown run and successful 2-point conversion.

Heber Springs pulled to within two late in the contest when Tubbs connected with Josiah Riggs for the score. Bush added the 2-point conversion to make it 16-14 in favor of Clinton.

The Panthers wouldn’t get the ball back as Clinton ran out the clock to end the game and earn the win. The two teams will meet again in Clinton in the season finalee.

Heber Springs will return to action on Sept. 9 at Harding Academy.

HEBER SPRINGS 7TH-GRADE SCHEDULE

(All Game Times are 5:30 p.m.)

Aug. 26 – Clinton 16, Heber Springs 14

Sep. 09 – at Harding Academy (Searcy)

Sep. 16 – Dover

Sep. 23 – at Lonoke

Sep. 30 – Stuttgart

Oct. 07 – at Central Arkansas Christian

Oct. 14 – Bald Knob

Oct. 21 – at Southside Batesville

Oct. 28 – at Clinton

HEBER SPRINGS 7TH-GRADE ROSTER

Coaches: Drew Lawrence, Jeff Bise and Hunter Davis

Players (in jersey number order)

Conner Underwood

Cade Burger

Jayden James

Tanner Graham

Samuel Bush

Lachlan Tubbs

Kayden Rimmer

Hayden Williams

Tripp Johnston

Rhett Herring

Landon Brown

Brayden Inman

Josiah Riggs

Walker Robinson

Carson Robitaille

Kayd Williams

Casey Pearce

Brody Loethen

Gavin Willis

Hayden Andrews

UPDATED: Former HSHS football players needed to vote for all-decade teams

(UPDATE: I appreciate everyone that is taking the time to respond and vote. I have received a lot of ballots back, but I am going to extend the deadline for at least a week to Sept. 10 in order to reach more former players. So please spread the word to all of your former teammates, especially those that may not be on social media. Would love to have everyone that wants to vote, have a chance.)

When the Heber Springs Panthers kick off their 2021 season at Newport on Sept. 3, it will mark the 100th season of football at Heber Springs High School.

Heber Springs played one season in 1913, then started again in 1921 and played continuously until the 1947 season, when the program was halted for two years because of financial reasons. The program resumed in 1949 and has played since.

In honor of the 100th season, Heber Springs coach Todd Wood has put “100” stickers on the helmets this season.

Here at MarkedTime.com, we are going to be doing several things in honor of the 100th season. One of those is picking all-decade teams and we need your help.

The Publisher of MarkedTime.com, Philip Seaton, has been researching the history of the program, whether it be from local or statewide sources. He has compiled a ballot for each decade, due to limited print coverage in the early decades, the all-decade teams prior to 1950s will chosen by a committee. But for the other decades, it will be done by a panel and vote by former senior high players.

This is where we need your help as a former Panther football player. Starting between now and midnight Sept. 1, will be sending out ballots and accepting votes on the top players from each of the following decades 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s. Players are eligible according to the last game the played, for example if you were part of the class of 1990, your class would be part of the 1980s.

Players were put on the ballot if they were named All-State, All-Conference, Honorable Mention All-Conference or received a team award for best offensive, defensive or special teams player. Some players were also added based upon recommendations of former players and coaches. If you do not see a player listed who feel is deserving, you can write them in.

If you would like to help us out, all you have to do is comment to this story below with the following information (your name), (your email address), (your graduation year), (the years you played senior high football), (a yes or no if you want to be contacted by other voters who want to make a case for a particular player(s)), and (the decades you want to vote on – you did not have to play in the decade you want to vote on, so you can vote for them if you choose). Please note, comments have to be approved before posting and none of them will be approved or posted for the public to see. Your email address will not be sold or shared (unless you okay it to be shared with former players who want to solicit votes for a particular player). Also note, if you vote in multiple decades, you will get multiple emails. Each decade will be emailed individually.

Please share with all your former teammates and players that you know.

The deadline to vote is midnight Sept. 1.

Panthers tangle with Badgers in scrimmage

Heber Springs quarterback John McBroome throws a touchdown pass to Easton Cusick during Tuesday’s nights scrimmage at Beebe. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

(Editor’s Note: The story was amended to remove reference on who threw the Panthers second interception)

BEEBE – Heber Springs and Class 5A Beebe tangled Tuesday night at Bro Erwin Stadium in a benefit scrimmage contest.

Beebe came out on top on the scoreboard, 34-7, in the controlled scrimmage.

Two of the Badgers touchdowns came on interceptions returned for touchdowns — one on a deflected pass off a Panther receiver, and two fumble recoveries for touchdowns — including one in the end zone on a blocked punt.

Outside the turnovers turned into points, the two teams managed to only a score each off the opposing defense.

The two teams starters began the contest with a 10-play series (regardless of turnovers). The Panthers were driving before Braden Sanders stepped in front of a John McBroome pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. No extra points were attempted in the series.

The Heber Springs defense stopped Beebe’s starters just short of the goal line on the 10th play.

The second 10-play set saw the second-teamers tangle with each other. Heber Springs drove deep into Badger territory after a couple of Xander Lindley pass completions and a run by Gideon Tate. However, Tate was stopped just inches short on the 10th play of the drive.

Heber Springs’ second-team defense stopped Beebe after a holding penalty against the Badgers cost them a 60-yard touchdown run. Tate came up with two fumble recoveries during the 10-play set.

After a short break, the teams played normal quarters. Heber Springs’ first series ended with a punt just short of the end zone and McBroome’s punt was blocked into the end zone where a Badger fell on the ball for the score.

Lindley connected with Easton Cusick with a pass to the Panther 49 before the drive stalled.

The Badgers turned the ball over on their next possession after Tate recovered his third fumble on the night.

The two teams traded possessions before the Panthers moved deep into Badger territory at the 14. On a first-and-10, Heber Springs had two open receivers in the end zone, but the pair both went for the ball at the same negating that scoring opportunity. A penalty pushed the Panthers back and the drive stalled.

Heber Springs got the ball back near the end of the quarter after Kenan Sneed intercepted a pass and returned to the Badger 15, but time expired before the Panthers could mount a serious scoring threat on the drive.

Beebe took the opening drive of the final stanza and moved down field thanks in part to a pair of long passes. The Badgers capped off the drive with a quarterback sneak.

The Panthers next possession ended with points for the Badgers after Sanders picked off his second pass of the night after the pass attempt hit the receivers hands bounced into the air and into Sanders arms, who returned 20 yards for the score.

It was the same story on Heber Springs’ next possession after a sack and a fumble that was returned for a score.

On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore Parker Brown took the ball at the Panther 5, ran up the middle and then cut the outside in front the Panther bench. Beebe’s kicker nearly got Brown at the 50, but did enough to momentarily slow him as the Badgers finally brought him down at the 7.

Two plays later, McBroome connected with Cusick for a 10-yard scoring strike. Tate connected on the PAT.

The Panthers will be off until Sept. 3 when they travel to Newport for their season-opener.

The junior high team will scrimmage Beebe Thursday night at Panther Stadium.

Panthers continue to work toward opener

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By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY


Heber Springs coach Todd Wood and his staff hopes to learn answers after the Panthers tangle in a benefit football scrimmage at Beebe on Tuesday.
Action will start at 6 p.m. with the teams participating in sets of plays on offense and defense. The scrimmage will conclude with the two teams playing for two quarters.

Wood, who was 2-9 in his first year as head coach, and the staff is optimistic that the team will enjoy success during the 2021 season.

“One of the big changes has been a spring camp and summer workouts going into fall practice,” Wood said when asked about the team’s progress. “We are more advanced at this point than last year. .”

Wood said the addition of one coach to the staff helps to spread teaching responsibility among coaches with players at all positions. Ryan Bridges, who previously coached at White Hall, is working primarily with the defensive line. He also is the school’s new baseball coach.

One of the big questions on offense going into the season is determining a starting quarterback. Wood said senior John McBroome, who started two games last season, and sophomore Xander Lindley have emerged as the top two candidates. Wood hopes for a starter to emerge from the scrimmage.

“John has a little more experience with the offense,” Wood said. “Xander was a receiver on last year’s successful junior high team, but he has prior quarterbacking experience. Xander has a good arm and a lot of speed. We plan to give them equal reps at Tuesday’s scrimmage. We also will take at look at Wyatt Winchester.”

Jackson West and sophomore Parker Brown are battling for the starting role at running back. West and Brown also are in the plans at receiver.

“Jackson is slightly ahead at running back,” Wood said. “We also plan to look at Gideon Tate at running back.”

The receiving corps may be the most experience group of players. With a year in the system, Wood believes they will have a bigger impact this season

“Gus Hannah is one of our fastest players on the team and runs excellent routes,” Wood said. “Easton Cusick gained speed and size during the offseason. Dalton Yancey played well for the junior high team last year. Austin Winchester can play a role and will get playing time. Chris Edwards may play at receiver and also start at cornerback. We need to figure out how to use all of the players.”

Three starters return on the offensive line — center Zach Thomas, left guard Peyton Owens and left tackle Thad Bray. Tristan Thissen is the leading candidate at right guard and Corbin Jones at right tackle.

Wood said Lucas Langster, who will start at defensive end, is the backup behind Owens. Blaze Emerson is the likely backup at right guard.

“Thad is our anchor on the line,” Wood said. “Zach can make the calls for the line. We are thin in numbers on the line, but we have players to fill all positions.”

Wood expects the defense will be improved and trying to limit the number of players playing both ways.

“We are looking for effort from the defense,” said Wood when asked about objectives of Tuesday’s scrimmage. “We want to play more physical than last year and tackle well.”

Langster and Jones will play the ends on defense with Emerson at nose guard. Owens and Joenah Cordell will provide depth.

Kenan Sneed, the leading tackler for the Panthers last season, leads the linebacking corps. Thissen is the likely starter at the other inside linebacker with Thomas also expected to play. Chris Roberts, Hayden Johnson, Hayden Davis and Tate rotating at the outside linebackers.

Except for Edwards, the secondary lacks varsity experience, but Wood is confident of the players to play well.

Zane Lozeau, a transfer from Dover, and Zack Parker are battling for the starting job at the cornerback opposite Edwards. Chandler Webber will also play at cornerback. Gage Buford and Colton Turley are the likely starters at the safeties.

“Edwards is one of the strongest players on the team,” Wood said. “We have the players and just need to put them in the right spots.”

After Tuesday’s scrimmage, the Panthers will have a three-week wait until the season opener at Newport on Sept. 3.

“The best thing about the time from the scrimmage to the season opener is the team can make the necessary adjustments,” Wood said. “We will not show everything against Beebe during the scrimmage.”

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