HSHS All-Decade Team: 2010s

The 2010s era of Heber Springs football was the most successful decade in school history with one perfect regular season, an outright conference title and two more that were shared. The decade also saw the Panthers reach the playoffs nine out of 10 seasons.

The 2010 season saw Steve Janski’s Panthers open with wins over Mountain View and Harding Academy before falling to Bald Knob and, in the conference opener, to Lonoke. A win over Stuttgart would follow with a setback at Marianna-Lee, before the Panthers would win four straight to close the regular season. A loss at Joe T. Robinson ended Heber Springs’ season with a 7-5 mark.

History would be made in 2011 as the Panthers opened the season by dominating defending 4A state champion Shiloh Christian, 36-17, in the opener at Reynolds’ Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. Heber Springs would put 49 on Harding Academy, 55 on Bald Knob and 63 on Lonoke, before winning at Stuttgart 28-21. No team in the regular season would get to less than two touchdowns the rest of the way as the Panthers completed a perfect regular season and the school’s first outright conference title sine 1979. The second-ranked Panthers would defeat Shiloh Christian again in a first-round playoff match-up at Panther Stadium before falling to Farmington to finish at 11-1 on the year. The 11 wins are the most in school history.

The 2012 team, opened with a loss to Pottsville and had a week 2 game at Harding Academy canceled after weather delays in the first half. A win over Gentry would make the Panthers 1-1 heading into conference play. Heber Springs would not repeat as conference champions finishing 2-4A play at 4-3, closing the regular season with a loss to new conference member Pine Bluff Dollarway. The Panthers would rebound in the playoffs downing Star City and Pea Ridge to reach the quarterfinals of the playoffs. Highland ended the Panthers season leaving Heber Springs with a 7-5 mark.

Janski’s last season at Heber Springs, 2013, would see the Panthers claim wins over Marianna-Lee and Southside Batesville but finish with a 2-8 mark.

Assistant coach David Farr was promoted to head coach for the 2014 campaign. The Panthers would down Clinton and Harding Academy in nonconference play before finishing 5-2 in conference play. The Panthers would drop Crossett in first-round playoff contest before seeing their season at Warren the following week to finish 8-4.

The offseason would see Farr take a job at Maumelle and long-time assistant coach Darren Gowen promoted to head coach. Heber Springs would open the 2015 season with a win over Clinton before falling to Greenbrier and Harding Academy in nonconference play. The Panthers would finish conference play at 4-3 to earn a playoff spot, but Star City would end Heber Springs’ season at 5-6.

The 2016 season saw Heber Springs start 0-3 in nonconference play before bouncing back to finish 6-1 in the 2-4A and earning a share of the conference title and the number 1 seed. After a first-round playoff bye, Shiloh Christian would end the Panthers season at 6-5.

In 2017, Heber Springs would open at 1-2 before earning another share of the 2-4A crown with a 6-1 conference mark. The three-way tie left the Panthers as the No. 3 seed where they would win a thrilling playoff contest at Gravette before falling at Gosnell to finish at 8-4. With the Panthers earning a share of the conference title, it was the first time since the 1979-1980 seasons that the Panthers had won at least a share of the conference title in back-to-back seasons. Those two teams joined the 1975-1976 teams as the only ones to accomplish that feat in school history.

The 2018 team attempted to be the first to win at least of share of a conference title in three consecutive seasons. After starting the season 0-3, Heber Springs would finish conference play at 6-1 but Stuttgart would win the crown with a 7-0 conference mark. The Panthers dominated former conference foe Pocahontas in first-round playoff match-up before losing at Rivercrest to finish 7-5.

Gowen would step down as head coach in the spring of 2019 to take a position in northwest Arkansas and Will Cox was promoted for the upcoming season. Heber Springs would fall to Clinton and Harding Academy in the final seconds in nonconference play, as well to Greenbrier, to start 0-3. The Panthers would finish conference play at 4-3 and get the No. 5 seed in the playoffs, after a four-way tie at the top. Shiloh Christian would end the Panthers season in the playoffs.

(Editor’s Note: The teams were selected based upon a vote by former players and coaches. They were asked to fill a ballot based upon positions. Players were allowed to a put a player in multiple positions (i.e. WR/DB). Votes were recorded based upon on the number of ballots a particular player was listed on. If a player was listed a multiple positions, they were still counted as being on one ballot. As with past decades, positions were kept fluid in order to ensure those that were on the most ballots would make the team. In several cases, there were players that received more votes for one position than the person selected for the all-decade team, but were on fewer ballots, and therefore did not make the team. In the previous decades, I was able to create a limit amount of all-purpose positions to cover those that may have been squeezed out of one position but were on more ballots than those who did make it (though not all-purpose positions do not mean those players were on fewer ballots, in many cases it was because a player exceled at so many positions that their votes were scattered). When it came time to do the 2010s, there were more votes cast by former players than any other decade. The votes were more varied than other decade. It created a situation were I was going to have to create a larger number of “all-purpose” positions to get everyone on the team that was going to get squeezed out because of the position that they played. So for this decade only, I created a second team. There are several players on the second team that were on more ballots than those on the first team, but I could not put them at position that did not play (an example would be if someone played WR/DB, I could not put them on the offensive line even though they were on more ballots than someone on first-team offensive line). That is just an example. Also, there is no punter on the second team, because all of those who received votes were already on the team so an extra “all-purpose” position was created in its place. And with ALL of the all-decade teams, there are some very, very good football players that didn’t make it and this decade was no exception. The hardest part of doing this was leaving out those who have contributed so much to the Panther program over the years. Coming in October, all those on any all-decade will be eligible to be voted on the all-time team that will be selected by a vote by the public).

The 2010s HSHS All-Decade Football Team

(Position, Player and Last Season Played)

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

WR – Clint Ligon (2012)

WR – Pierce Mitchum (2016)

OL – Jimbo Bodron (2010)

OL – J.J. Bray (2018)

OL – Andrew Davis (2011)

OL – Derrik Fisher (2012)

OL – Joseph Tharp (2010)

QB – Adam Martin (2019)

RB – Chandler Marquardt (2014)

RB – Markeyvus Mays (2011)

RB – Blaze Nelson (2018)

K – Julian Cameron (2018)

AP – Michael Ludwig (2011)

DEFENSE

DL – Chris Hart (2017)

DL – Zach McCormick (2014)

DL – Luke McGowan (2016)

LB – Geoffrey Anderson (2011)

LB – Ethan Bly (2012)

LB – James Ketchum (2015)

LB – Mason Williams (2010)

DB – Jacob Bremmon (2017)

DB – Micah Dew (2012)

DB – Nate Dew (2016)

DB – Brooks Morgan (2012)

P – Landon Glover (2011)

AP – Hunter Chandler (2015)

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

WR – Andrew Hill (2010)

WR – Rocky Finney (2018)

OL – Austin Childers (2011)

OL – Harley Hannah (2019)

OL – Nate Hills (2013)

OL – Ethan Lee (2012)

OL – Dylan Platt (2015)

QB – Michael Kramer (2013)

RB – Chandler Jones (2014)

RB – Julio Rubio (2019)

RB/WR – Gunner Nelson (2012)

K – Edgar Torres (2015)

AP – Joseph Stacks (2017)

DEFENSE

DL – Dalton Hall (2018)

DL – Harley Hooten (2012)

DL – Kody Youngblood (2014)

LB – Fate Berry (2019)

LB – Dustin Ervin (2012)

LB – Wade Gilbrech (2012)

LB – Landon Johnson (2019)

DB – Caleb Carmikle (2010)

DB – Cooper Lawrence (2013)

DB – Jesse Lawrence (2011)

DB – Dillon Spivey (2017)

AP – Brandon Loethen (2017)

AP – Ian Lowe (2013)

PREVIOUS DECADES

The 2000s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1990s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1980s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1970s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1960s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1950s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1940s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1930s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1910s/20s HSHS All-Decade Team

Senior Spotlight: Jackson West

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs outside linebacker Jackson West is another Panther or who have traveled a long road to his senior season.

West, who joined the program as a seventh-grader, hopes to make an impart in the 100th season of Heber Springs football. He also will provide depth at running back and receiver for the offense.

“We knew this would be a special season because of the 100th season of Panther football,” West said. “The players have a common goal of winning games. Everything is more upbeat.”

Heber Springs hopes the momentum built from the first shutout in almost five years will continue against Lonoke at Panther Stadium on Friday.

“We had a great game on defense,” West said. “We accomplished our team goal of holding Dover under 100 yards. We will set a new goal for the Lonoke game and work to achieve that.”

West said he and his teammates understand Lonoke will be a challenge.

“We have work to do,” he said. “But if we come out prepared to play, it will go all right.”

Panther GameDay: Panthers open 2-4A play against Lonoke

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Celebration of last week’s 44-0 win at Dover quickly became short-lived for the Heber Springs Panthers.

The Panthers (1-1) turned their attention at Monday’s practice to Friday’s 7 p.m. 2-4A Conference football opener against Lonoke (3-0) at Panther Stadium.

“We had good execution for the most part against Dover,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “We accomplished our goal of fixing some areas and discovered other areas that need more work. We were going into situation that we need a win and proved that we could put points on the board, and we could stop the other team.”

Wood told his team during the Dover postgame huddle that the conference race begins the following week.

“I told them we played two nonconference games and now our focus should be on the conference games, starting with Lonoke,” Wood said. “What we do in conference play will determine if we are playing in late November and December. It’s a fresh start for all teams.”

The Jackrabbits rolled past Carlisle (54-12) in their opener and had impressive wins against Beebe (28-21) and Newport (29-20).

Quarterback Braylon Allen is the leader of the offense with multi-talented Spencer Pepper. In 2020, Pepper was the starting quarterback until an injury sidelined him. He will start at running back and occasionally move to receiver. Pepper also has been used as the wildcat quarterback.

“No. 7 (Allen) was a ninth-grader who moved up when Pepper was inured and played well,” Wood said. “He is very athletic and can throw or run. No. 5 (Pepper) is also a threat. We must know where they are at all times.”

Lonoke uses a spread attack on offense, but different than what the Panthers witnessed against Harding Academy.

“They will try and establish the run,” Wood said. “Lonoke has the capability of throwing the ball, but it wants to spread the defense. We must be careful of not just playing the run.”

Wood plans to counter with the Panther dynamic duo of quarterback Xander Lindley and running back Parker Brown. Lindley completed 12-of 18 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns against Dover. Brown caught three passes for 220 yards, all for touchdowns.

“Parker is an athlete who makes big things happen,” Wood said. “If team concentrates just on Parker, it will up open the offense for other players. I was pleased with Parker’s play against Dover. (Easton) Cusick and (Austin) Winchester had good games, too. Austin caught the touchdown pass and ran like a bull for the last 10 yards. He showed his determination to get into the end zone.”

Wood also liked the defense’s performance. The Panthers held Dover to a minus 30 yards rushing and 23 net yards of offense.

“I was pleased with the defense’s pursuit and seeing four or five guys making tackles,” Wood said. “We want a swarming type of defense. The shutout was nice and gives confidence to the defense. One of the defensive keys against Lonoke will be keeping leverage on whoever has the ball. “

Wood said Friday’s game will set the tone for the remainder of the season.

“We want to start conference play with a win,” he said. “Lonoke was our focus this week and then we will move on to Stuttgart and Central Arkansas Christian.”

  • Kickoff: 7 p.m.
  • Radio/Streaming: Billy Morgan with handle the play-by-play with Lance Hamilton providing color on KSUG 101.9 The Lake. Panther Pregame begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by the game.  You can listen live here.

CONFERENCE SCOREBOARD WEEK 3

  • Heber Springs 44, Dover 0
  • Central Arkansas Christian 35, Mayflower 34
  • Lonoke 29, Newport 20
  • Dardanelle 42, Clinton 26
  • Bald Knob bye
  • Little Rock Mills bye
  • Southside Batesville Bye
  • Stuttgart bye

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE WEEK 4

  • Heber Springs (1-1) at Lonoke (2-1)
  • Little Rock Mills (3-0) at Bald Knob (0-3)
  • Clinton (1-2) at Central Arkansas Christian (2-1)
  • Stuttgart (2-1) at Southside Batesville (2-1)

The Series: Lonoke leads the all-time series, 15-10

The two teams first meet in 1931, a 25-0 victory by the Jackrabbits in Lonoke. The schools would play eight times between 1931 and 1942 with the Panthers lone victory coming in 1933, 19-0. The two teams wouldn’t meet again for almost 50 years when the two schools were both part of the 5AA-North conference for the 1991-92 cycle with the Jackrabbits winning both of those conference contests. Fourteen years later in 2006, Heber Springs and Lonoke would again be placed in the same conference (the 4A-2). Since 2006, the Panthers have won nine out of 15 contests, including five straight in the series before Lonoke won in 2019 and 2020.

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Heber Springs tops Lonoke in junior high action

Heber Springs’ Weston Warden looks to get up field after taking a screen pass from Liam Buffalo Thursday night in Lonoke. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

LONOKE – Heber Springs overcame a sluggish start to claim a 34-12 conference-opening victory over Lonoke Thursday night.

Liam Buffalo threw his first interception this season in more than 50 attempts, but that would be the only blemish for the ninth-grader on the night as he was 11 of 14 passing for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 95 yards and three touchdowns on seven attempts.

Weston Warden caught five passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns including a 23-yarder with 7:34 to play in the first half to tie the game at 6-6, and an 85-yarder on a screen pass that he took the distance to give the Panthers (3-1, 1-0) a 12-6 lead with 1:13 left in the half – a lead the Panthers wouldn’t give up.

Lonoke (0-2, 0-1) struck first as Marquez Jackson took the opening kickoff 82 yards for a score to give the Jackrabbits an early 6-0 advantage.

The Panthers first drive was stalled thanks in part to a pair of 10-yard penalties and an interception by Lonoke’s Tanner Starks.

Lonoke appeared to be driving for another score reaching the Heber Springs 28, but on third-and-3, Jacob McMullin threw Lonoke quarterback J.T. Stuart for a seven-yard loss to end the Jackrabbit momentum as a fourth-down pass play came up short.

The Panthers would then drive 74 yards on 10 plays to tie things up on the Buffalo to Warden 23-yard scoring pass.

Heber Springs held Lonoke on their next possession thanks in part to tackles for loss by Luke Elliott and Buffalo.

After a 33-yard punt by Stuart, Buffalo connected with Warden, who did the rest for the 85-yard score.

McMullin, who recovered three onside kick attempts on the night, covered the onside attempt at the Panther 48. Buffalo would race 52 yards for the score with 7:11 left in the third quarter. Buffalo would connect with Logan Rutledge for the 2-point conversion to make it 20-6.

On the ensuing kickoff, Jackson would strike again return the kickoff for 74 yards to make it 20-12.

Heber Springs would use a seven-play, 57-yard drive to respond as Buffalo capped the drive with a 13-yard scoring run to make it 26-12.

The Panthers added a fourth-quarter touchdown on a 5-yard run by Buffalo and a 2-point conversion by Buffalo to set the final score.

Heber Springs returns to action Tuesday night at Panther Stadium against Stuttgart.

HEBER SPRINGS AT LONOKE
SEPTEMBER 23, 2021 
Heber Springs   0  12  14   6 - 32 
Lonoke          6   0   6   0 - 12 
FIRST QUARTER 
L - Marquez Jackson 82-yard kickoff return (run failed), 7:47
SECOND QUARTER 
HS - Liam Buffalo to Weston Warden 23-yard pass (pass failed), 7:34
HS - Buffalo to Warden 85-yard pass (run failed), 1:13
THIRD QUARTER 
HS - Buffalo 52-yard run (Buffalo to Logan Rutledge pass), 7:11
L - Jackson 74-yard kickoff return (run failed), 6:59
HS - Buffalo 13-yard run (run failed), 3:45
FOURTH QUARTER 
HS - Buffalo 5-yard run (Buffalo run), 7:14
TEAM STATISTICS 
FIRST DOWNS: HS 15, L 5
RUSHES-YARDS: HS 21/161, L 21/33
PASSING YARDS: HS 201, L 34
TOTAL OFFENSE: HS 362, L 67
COMP-ATT-INT: HS 11-14-1, L 4-11-1
FUMBLES: HS 0, L 0
PENALITIES-YARDS: HS 6/40, L 0/0
PUNTS-AVERAGE: HS 0, L 1/33
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS 
RUSHING: HS, Liam Buffalo 7/95, Lucas Garcia 6/49, Logan Rutledge 1/13, Carter Julian 1/7, Weston Warden 5/2, Team 1/(-5). Lonoke, D'Mar Eason 4/17, Marquez Jackson 5/14, J.T. Stuart 7/13, Will Payne 1/2, Alex Whiting 2/2, Dexter Rollason 1/(-4), Team 1/(-11).
PASSING: HS, Buffalo 11/14-201-2/1, Stuart 4/11-34-0/1
RECEVING: HS, Warden 5/124, Ty West 2/22, Julian 2/20, Seth Dudeck 1/27, Rutledge 1/8. L, Tanner Starks 1/22, Cameron Hooten 1/9, Jaden Mays 1/5, Payne 1/(-2).
KICKOFF RETURNS: L, Jackson 2/156, T.J. Terry 1/7.
PUNT RETURNS: None
INT RETURNS: HS, Caleb Carr 1/29. L, Starks 1/18
FUMBLE RETURNS: None
PUNTS: L, Stuart 1/33.

HEBER SPRINGS JUNIOR HIGH SCHEDULE

(All Games Start at 7 p.m.)

Aug. 26 – Heber Springs 32, Clinton 28

Sep. 09 – Harding Academy 36, Heber Springs 16

Sep. 16 – Heber Springs 26, Dover 12

Sep. 23 – Heber Springs 34, Lonoke 12 *

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)

Panther Cubs tripped up at Lonoke

Heber Springs’ Lachlan Tubbs looks for running room at Lonoke Thursday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

LONOKE – The Heber Springs Panther Cubs ran into an undefeated Lonoke 7th-Grade squad and came out with a 20-6 setback Thursday night.

Lonoke took a 14-0 lead in the halftime break with touchdown runs at the 12:40 and 1:50 mark of the first half, with a 2-point conversion coming on the latter score.

The Jackrabbits added another touchdown at the 15:04 mark of the second half before the Panthers got on the board with 31 seconds left on a 16-yard Lachlan Tubbs touchdown run. The 2-point conversion failed.

Heber Springs falls to 1-2 on the season with the loss.

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 (Canceled)

Sep. 16 – Heber Springs 16, Dover 6

Sep. 23 – Lonoke 20, Heber Springs 6

Sep. 28 – Stuttgart

Oct. 07 – at Central Arkansas Christian

Oct. 14 – Bald Knob

Oct. 21 – at Southside Batesville

Oct. 28 – at Clinton

HSHS All-Decade Team: 2000s

The 2000s era of Heber Springs football started with a whimper and ended with a bang.

Long-time assistant Todd Thompson would take over for Bill Buckner for the 2000 campaign as the 2AAA conference would see some changes with Hoxie joining the conference. Heber Springs would struggle through the 2000 and 2001 seasons, before breaking into the win column with an 2002 season-opening win over Little Rock Lutheran. After a loss to Clinton, the Panthers would down Lamar before entering conference play. Corning had replaced Bald Knob starting with the 2002 season.

Former Panther standout Dale Cresswell would take over as head coach for the 2003 and 2004 seasons, claiming a win against Lamar in 2004.

Former East Carolina University assistant coach Steve Janski would take over the program starting with the 2005 season and guide the team the rest of the decade.

Opening with a win over Bald Knob, the Panthers would also claim a nonconference win at Lamar. Heber Springs would break at conference losing streak on Oct. 21, 2005, with a win at Mountain View. They would follow that with a win over Yellville-Summit to finish 4-6.

The 2006 campaign saw Heber Springs shifted to the 2-4A conference joining Lonoke, Stuttgart, Marianna-Lee, Bald Knob, Southside Batesville, Mountain View and Newport. The Panthers would start the season 4-0 with wins over Clinton, DeWitt, Yellville-Summit and Lonoke, before falling to Stuttgart and Marianna-Lee in back-to-back weeks. Blowout wins over Bald Knob and Southside Batesville would follow, before Heber Springs would claim its first win over Newport. Mountain View forfeited the reminder of its season on Oct. 23 due to low player numbers giving the Panthers a 13-0 conference win. The Yellowjackets did field a “B” team that traveled to Heber Springs in week 10 so the Panthers could have a “senior night,” heading into the playoffs. The Panthers would claim their first playoff win in 27 years with a 21-12 win over Greenland. Heber Springs would finish out a 10-3 with a loss at Nashville.

The 2007 Panthers would finish the season with a 5-6 record earning the school’s first back-to-back appearance in the playoffs. In week 8, Heber Springs would set a school record with 76 points in win over Southside Batesville.

The 2008 Heber Springs would start the season 1-4 and the postseason definitely seemed in doubt as the Panthers trailed at Marianna-Lee 30-0 with 8:10 left in the first half, but Heber Springs would score 32 unanswered to claim a 32-30 win. That victory seem to propel the Panthers as they would win six straight, including playoff wins over Prairie Grove and West Fork reaching the 4A quarterfinals for the third time in school history and the first time since 1979. Heber Springs would end with an 8-5 mark.

Heber Springs’ 2009 season saw a 4-0 start, before falling at Stuttgart, 15-12, in week 4. After a win against Marianna-Lee and a loss at Bald Knob, the Panthers would five-in-a-row to advance to the 4A quarterfinals in back-to-back for the first time in school history. The Panthers would finish with a 10-3 mark.

The 2000s HSHS All-Decade Football Team

(Position, Player and Last Season Played)

OFFENSE

WR – Shane Bryant (2005)

WR – Stuart Tillman (2005)

OL – Frazier Blankenship (2007)

OL – Billy Grammar (2009)

OL – Trevor Reed (2006)

OL – Alex Witkowski (2007)

OL – Alex Wyatt (2006)

QB/P – Devin Tillman (2005)

RB – Curtis Decker (2006)

RB – Ryan Grist (2007)

RB – Braylon Mitchell (2009)

K – Antonio Romero (2008)

AP – Wes McMullen (2009)

AP – Taylor Tubbs (2004)

AP – Jacob Wilson (2004)

DEFENSE

DL – Garrett Davis (2006)

DL – Warren DeBusk (2000)

DL – Matt Fedora (2002)

DL – Ryan Palenske (2009)

LB – Michael Harmon (2005)

LB – Tanner Tubbs (2006)

LB – Jonathan West (2005)

LB – Thomas Wharton (2001)

DB – Hunter Derrick (2009)

DB – Jimmy Head (2001)

DB –Hilton Hoover (2008)

AP – David Darrell (2009)

AP – Jake Logan (2007)

AP – Zach Nelson (2009)

AP – Jacob Smithson (2002)

PREVIOUS DECADES

The 1990s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1980s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1970s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1960s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1950s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1940s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1930s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1910s/20s HSHS All-Decade Team

HSHS All-Decade: 1990s

The 1990s era of Heber Springs football saw the Panthers come close to several playoff berths and claim two spots as the number of playoff teams was expanded to four teams in the decade.

The first Panther team of the decade lost its opener to Harding Academy but won three straight with nonconference wins over Dover and Dardanelle, and a conference-opening win over Yellville-Summit. A loss to Mountain View was the first conference blemish, but the Panthers improved to 4-2 with a victory over Bald Knob. A nonconference loss to Pulaski Academy and conference losses to Vilonia and Greenbrier, left the Panthers playing for pride in week 10, a 31-0 victory over Clinton to finish at 5-5 on the year.

The 1991 season saw Heber Springs shifted away from conference foes that had dominated the schedule for more than 15 years as the Panthers were placed in the 5AA with England, Vilonia, Beebe, Bald Knob, DeWitt, Lonoke and Brinkley. Heber Springs started the season with a narrow setback to Clinton, 22-20, but the Panthers would struggle the rest of the way, finishing at 0-10 (the first winless campaign in school history).

John Richardson switched to classroom duties for the 1992 season and assistant coach Brad Reese was promoted to the top position. His first team won back-to-back games against Mountain View and England, but finished the season 2-8.

The 1993 squad would be placed in the 4AA-East conference along with Perryville, Yellville-Summit, Greenbrier, Mountain View, Clinton, Dover and Atkins. Heber Springs would garner wins over Perryville and Mountain View.

The Panthers rebounded in 1994. Heber Springs started the season 0-3 with close losses to Batesville and Harding Academy, before opening 4AA-East play. The Panthers would win five straight to put themselves in a good position to earn one of the two playoff spots for the conference. But Heber Springs was upset in week 9 at Dover, forcing a must-win game in week 10 at Atkins. The two teams battled but the Red Devils claimed a 6-0 win and a share of the conference title (along with Greenbrier, whose only conference was to the Panthers on Oct. 7).

With the playoffs expanded to four teams from each conference, the 1995 Panthers started the season by winning four straight. After a dropping a pair of 4AA-East contests, Heber Springs got back into playoff contention with wins over Mountain View and Clinton, but losses to Dover in week 9 and Atkins in week 10 left the Panthers in fifth place, but with a winning record at 6-4.

The 1996 Panthers again saw a conference change as Beebe, Dover, Clinton, Mountain View, Bald Knob, Yellville-Summit and Vilonia joined Heber Springs in the 5AA-North. Heber Springs would claim a nonconference win over Greenbrier but would again finish one-game short of a playoff berth with a fifth-place finish in conference play and a 4-6 overall record.

Heber Springs would get over the playoff hump in 1997, earning the schools first playoff berth in 14 seasons. The Panthers opened with wins over Atkins and Greenbrier before dropping a close contest at Highland. In the conference opener, Beebe would pull away late from the Panthers before Heber Springs would score 30 or more points in wins over Dover, Clinton and Mountain View. The Panthers would close out the season with three straight losses and in a three-way with Bald Knob and Clinton for the four-seed. Heber Springs got in based upon a conference tiebreaker and traveled to Ozark, where the Panthers season would end a cold night in Franklin County and a 5-6 record.

With Reese taking a position at Huntsville, former Greenbrier coach Bill Buckner would lead the Panthers for the 1998 campaign. The Panthers would finish the season with two nonconference wins over Greenbrier and Mountainburg, and two conference wins in the new 2AAA conference (Yellville-Summit, Mountain View, Pocahontas, Highland, Bald Knob and Clinton).

The 1999 Panthers would open the season with four-straight losses before dropping Mountain View on the road and winning at home against Pocahontas. After a loss at Highland, Heber Springs would down Mountainburg (in nonconference play), Bald Knob (43-20) and Clinton (57-18) to finish second in the 2AAA and earn the school’s first home playoff game in 20 years. Warren would handle the Panthers in the first round as Heber Springs closed the decade with a 5-6 record.

The 1990s HSHS All-Decade Football Team

(Position, Player and Last Season Played)

OFFENSE

WR – Wesley Smith (1997)

WR – Brad Sneed (1998)

OL – Scott Anderson (1998)

OL – Justin Burlison (1999)

OL – Kory Smith (1993)

OL – Guy Storm (1997)

OL – Stephen Talley (1999)

QB – Chris Lee (1994)

RB – Justin Davidson (1998)

RB – Stacy Poff (1990)

RB – Eric Smith (1993)

AP – Nat Baureis (1995)

AP – Mark Cresswell (1996)

AP – Josh Foster (1999)

AP – Jacob McCormick (1999)

DEFENSE

DL – Barry Brown (1992)

DL – David Butler (1999)

DL – Cliff Derrickson (1997)

DL – Burke Toliver (1995)

DL – Tray Wilson (1994)

LB – Tony Baldwin (1997)

LB/P – Brock Bertrand (1996)

LB – Nathan James (1998)

DB – Billy Baser (1997)

DB/K – Nick James (1998)

DB –Zeke Wilson (1998)

AP – Gil Blevins (1990)

AP – Scott Cresswell (1994)

AP – Randal Hindsley (1991)

AP – Jem Johnson (1990)

PREVIOUS DECADES

The 1980s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1970s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1960s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1950s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1940s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1930s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1910s/20s HSHS All-Decade Team

HSHS All-Decade Team: 1980s

The 1980s era of Heber Springs football was one of consistency at the top with Dennis DeBusk coaching the team through eight seasons of the decade.

The 1980 Panther team finished the season with an 8-2 mark and in a three-way tie for the 1AA-East crown, but missed out on a playoff spot. After opening the season with a 10-7 setback to Joe T. Robinson, Heber Springs would win eight straight setting up a week 10 showdown with Greenbrier for a chance to win back-to-back outright conference crowns. But the Faulkner County Panther squad would come out on top 24-6 to steal the playoff bid from the Panthers.

In 1981, Heber Springs would finished 7-3 and the set-up would be the same as 1980, except with nonconference losses to Beebe and Batesville, with a week 10 showdown with Greenbrier for the 1AA-East crown. Both teams entered the game at 5-0 in the conference, but Greenbrier would claim a 27-0 win, the conference title and the conference’s spot in the playoffs.

The 1982 squad would start the season 0-2 with losses at Beebe and to Harding Academy, but rebounded to win at Bald Knob and at home against Batesville. The Panthers would start conference play with a victories over Clinton and Yellville-Summit, before stumbling at Mountain View on Oct. 15, 20-14. Heber Springs would rebound with wins over Marshall and Vilonia before falling to Greenbrier, 10-6, in week 10. Though the Panthers finished in second place in the conference, Mountain View was the lone representative for the conference in the playoffs.

In 1983, Bald Knob re-joined the newly-named 5AA-North conference and the Panthers would start the season 2-1 in nonconference play. Heber Springs would not leave any doubt about a playoff spot by starting 6-0 and having clinched postseason play by week 10. A week 10 loss to Vilonia meant the Panthers had to share a conference crown with the Eagles. Heber Springs opened the season with a win over Beebe but the Badgers got revenge in the playoffs by knocking off the Panthers, 17-6.

The 1984 Panther team would finish 4-6 and 3-4 in conference play. Heber Springs still had a chance to earn one of the two playoff spots for the conference but those hopes were dashed with losses in weeks 9 and 10 ended those.

The 1985 and 1986 teams each finished at 2-8 with the 1985 squad downing Marshall and Vilonia, and the 1986 team defeating Marshall and Greenbrier.

In 1987, Heber Springs would go 2-3 in nonconference play with wins over Dover and Atkins. The Panthers would open up conference play with a thrilling 19-12 overtime win against Clinton, but would drop their final four contests to finish at 3-7.

Mountain View High School graduate John Richardson would take over as coach for the 1988 season after coming over from Huntsville. Heber Springs would start with nine straight losses before closing the season with a win over Mountain View.

In 1989, Heber Springs would again finished with a 1-9 mark, starting the season with three nonconference losses before downing Yellville-Summit in the conference opener.

The 1980s HSHS All-Decade Football Team

(Position, Player and Last Season Played)

OFFENSE

WR – Lance Perry (1980)

WR – Mark Rezanka (1983)

OL – Jim Bly (1981)

OL – Edward Gleich (1984)

OL – Wayne Hazelwood (1983)

OL – John Hoover (1980)

OL – Aaron Little (1980)

QB – Pat Dudeck (1988)

RB – Bill Mark (1982)

RB – Danny Martin (1980)

RB – Danny Stevenson (1988)

AP – Mark Hoffman (1980)

AP – Reggie Sumpter (1987)

AP – Jonathan Wallace (1984)

AP – Shannon Yates (1987)

DEFENSE

DL – Jeff Garlinghouse (1988)

DL – Brock Loftis (1981)

DL – Peyton Upton (1982)

LB – Dale Cresswell (1984)

LB – Mike Shamburger (1989)

LB – Robert Sparks (1980)

LB/K – Mike Verser (1984)

LB – Paul Reed (1981)

DB – Andy Beam (1981)

DB –Steve Logan (1983)

DB – Bill Wallace (1986)

P – Travis Moss (1984)

AP – Birch Grisso (1983)

AP –Sid Shelton (1982)

AP – Paige Upton (1982)

PREVIOUS DECADES

The 1970s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1960s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1950s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1940s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1930s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1910s/20s HSHS All-Decade Team

Panther Notebook: It was a record night, maybe

Heber Springs assistant coach Hunter Davis reacts to play on the sidelines during the Panthers 44-0 victory over Dover Friday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

In the run-up to the 2021 and 100th Heber Springs high school football season, I had hoped to have the comprehensive record book (top 100 for games, seasons and careers) that I have been working on ready for the season-opener.

The record book, when completed, will rival most college record books (you know those you open and see in the media guides distributed by most college programs). In order to be as accurate and concise as possible, the write-ups published in the local newspaper(s) over the years left a lot gaps that needed to be filled in. Box scores for the games were non-existent until the 1975 season but remained published fairly regularly until the late 1980s. The box scores would appear again in the late 90s and early 2000s, but then fade away. So needless to say, there were some gaps. Newspaper accounts from the opposing were a good source to fill in those gaps, but Covid prevented me from being able to research those until this summer, so that put me behind.

All of that was said, because it was night’s like last Friday for the Panthers, a 44-0 victory at Dover, that I truly lament not having it finished (though I am about 60 years done). When the dust settles and the record book is completed, don’t be surprised to see some of Friday’s numbers be near or at the top of the single game record book.

WOE IS ME: Dover’s losing streak was extended to 23 games. Former Heber Springs coach Will Cox is in his second season at the Pope County school, and judging by the improvement shown by both the 7th-grade and junior high teams over last season, things are getting better for the Pirate program.

SOMETHING ABOUT JACK BERRY STADIUM: Sophomore Parker Brown had a career night receiving catching three passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns. His touchdown receptions were 51-, 76- and 93-yards. Going back to junior high, Brown caught two passes for 99 yards and a 71-yard touchdown last season. In two games in the stadium, Brown has five receptions for 319 yards and four touchdowns.

STICKING WITH PARKER: The 220 receiving yards are the most by Panther since Pierce Mitchum had 203 yards receiving against Southside Batesville on Oct. 23, 2015 and his three touchdown receptions put him near the top of the most touchdown receptions in one game. The last time that happened was when Mitchum had three touchdown grabs against Baptist Prep on Oct. 14, 2016. Dating back to last season, when Brown played in the final two games as a freshman, he now has scored five touchdowns in four games. His 93-yard reception from Xander Lindley will also be in the top five when the smoke settles on the record book, though it won’t top the 99-yard pass play from Adam Martin to Tri Johnson at Harding Academy in 2018.

RARE COMPANY: Brown wasn’t the only one joining rare company Friday, sophomore Xander Lindley, in only his second career start, joined the 300-yard passer club with a 12 of 18 for 318 yards and four-touchdown performance. The total number of 300-yard passers in school history is not many, and Matthew Cook was the last to do it last season.

FORMER PIRATE: Zane Lozeau transferred from Dover to Heber Springs in the offseason and had a big night against his former teammates. Lozeau had five tackles — one for a loss, a fumble recovery and scored on a 20-yard touchdown run in the second half.

BROKE THAT INT STREAK: It had been 12 games since the Panthers had intercepted an opponents pass attempt, but that streak ended in the first quarter when Chris Edwards picked-off a Jon Greathouse pass attempt and raced 71 yards for a score. The Panthers last interception came at Shiloh Christian on Nov. 21, 2019, when Hunter Kent picked off a Saints pass attempt.

WHO SAYS YOU NEED TO RUN THE FOOTBALL TO WIN: The Panthers rushed the ball nine times for 45 and a touchdown Friday. The nine rush attempts is the fewest by Panther squad since rushing eight times against Baptist Prep on Oct. 14, 2016.

RUSH DEFENSE: The Panther defense held the Pirates to minus 30 yards rushing on 30 attempts. It is the fewest rushing yards allowed in a game since 2011 when Heber Springs limited Bald Knob to minus 31 yards rushing.

OKAY THIS PROBABLY WILL BE A RECORD: The 15 combined rushing yards from both teams on Friday probably will be a record. One can’t imagine fewer yards rushing in a game, and right now, the closest combined fewest rushing yards in game is 116, so odds are that will probably stick as a record.

SHUTOUTS: With the shutout win, it was the first time since Oct. 19, 2018 (a 21-0 victory at Southside Batesville), that the defense has not allowed an opponent to score. It was also only the third time in the past 12 seasons the defense has shutout an opponent. The Panthers defeated Marianna-Lee, 54-0, on Oct. 5, 2012. All of these shutouts have occurred on the road. The last home shutout for the Panthers was a 54-0 win over Southside Batesville on Oct. 23, 2009.

MARGIN OF VICTORY: The 44-point margin of victory was the first time the Panthers have won a game by more than 40 points since defeating Marianna-Lee, 54-0, on Oct. 5, 2012.

WATCH OUT JULIAN: Julian Cameron holds both the state and school record for most consecutive extra-point kicks made without a miss at 100. Could Gideon Tate be on his way? Did we just jinx him? The sophomore is a perfect six-of-six on the season so far.

NO RECORDS, BUT: Junior Easton Cusick, who is also the back-up quarterback this season, caught five passes for 44 yards on one drive in the second half. No records are kept on the most receptions in a drive, but if they were, that might be the most.

UP NEXT: Heber Springs hosts Lonoke in the 2-4A conference opener Friday night at Panther Stadium. The Jackrabbits have won the past two meetings between the schools.

HSHS All-Decade Team: 1970s

The 1970s era of Heber Springs football started slowly but ended with a bang as the Panthers won their first outright conference title since 1952 in 1979 and also shared two other conference crowns.

Morgan Outlaw took over the program for the 1970 and 71 seasons. The Panthers went 2-6-1 in 1970 closing out the season with wins over Cotton Plant and Highland. In 1971, it was wins at Bald Knob, Greenbrier and Cotton Plant that put the final mark at 3-6.

Robert Medley led the Panthers during the 1972 and 73 seasons as they competed in the 3A-West conference with Mountain View, Bald Knob, McCrory, Beebe, Cotton Plant and Augusta. Former Panther standout Dennis DeBusk would join the staff as an assistant in 1972 as Heber Springs finished the year with a 3-3-2 mark. The Panthers tied Clinton and Bald Knob and defeated Greenbrier and Cotton Plant, and then closed out the season with a win over Cross County from the 3A-East, as the final week of the season pitted teams from the East and West to determine final District 3 standings. In 1972, the Panthers managed wins over Greenbrier and Cotton Plant to finished 2-8.

Clyde Darrough would take over the program for the 1974 and 1975 seasons. The Panthers would only manage a 2-8 campaign in 1974 with wins over Greenbrier and Marshall in conference play as Heber Springs was in the new 12A conference along with Mountain View, Clinton.

Vilonia would join the 12A conference in 1975 and the Panthers would start the season 5-0 with wins over Concord, DeValls Bluff, Salem, Greenbrier and Clinton before being tripped up in week 6 by Harding Academy. The Panthers would drop Mountain View and Marshall to set at 7-1 but a week 9 loss to Vilonia cost Heber Springs and outright conference title. Following a tough nonconference loss to Bald Knob in week 10, McCrory would end the Panthers season in the first round of the playoffs (the first playoff berth since the 1952 season).

Darrough left following the 1975 season and DeBusk was promoted to head coach. The Panthers would go 8-3 and claim another share of the 12A crown, falling to Don Campbell’s Corning Bodcats in a first round playoff contest.

The 1977 season saw the Panthers keep the same conference foes but with a new conference name, the 1AA-East. Heber Springs would go 8-2 but back-t0-back losses to Greenbrier and Clinton cost the Panthers a chance at postseason play. Heber Springs downed Pulaski Academy, North Pulaski, Bald Knob in nonconference play before closing the season with a win over Augusta.

The 1978 squad would finish at 5-5 overall and 3-3 in conference play (Yellville-Summit joined the conference in 1978) as the Panthers would claim nonconference wins over Bald Knob and Pulaski Academy.

The 1979 season would be an historic one for the Panthers. Heber Springs would win an outright 1AA-East crown with a 6-0 record and earn the school’s first playoff victory. The Panthers started the season 3-0 with wins over Joe T. Robinson, Harding Academy and Bald Knob, before Beebe tripped up Heber Springs in week 4. The Panthers would lose again until McCrory stopped the Panthers in the second round of the playoffs.

The 1970s HSHS All-Decade Football Team

(Position, Player and Last Season Played)

OFFENSE

WR – David Brown (1979)

WR – Mark Duncan (1971)

OL – John Bergin (1975)

OL – Steve Butler (1972)

OL – Steve Crumpler (1976)

OL – John Davis (1976)

OL – Joe Bob Powell (1979)

QB – Louis Lee (1973)

RB – Curtis Henry (1978)

RB – Larry Kennedy (1975)

RB – Layne Tubbs (1977)

K – Russ Olmstead (1976)

AP – Brock Duckworth (1972)

AP – Buster Gaylor (1977)

AP – John Hvasta (1978)

DEFENSE

DL – Donald Elslander (1974)

DL – Mike Greene (1978)

DL – Billy Lindsey (1972)

DL – Roger Logan (1977)

DL – Jackie McPherson (1977)

LB – Terry Bittle (1979)

LB – Ronnie Martin (1977)

LB – Mason Reed (1979)

DB – Steve Plant (1973)

DB – Carl Cox (1975)

DB – Lance Lincoln (1978)

P – Ben Caston (1976)

AP – Thomas Heigle (1970)

AP –Bruce (Barker) Swan (1973)

AP – Bo Verser (1971)

PREVIOUS DECADES

The 1960s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1950s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1940s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1930s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1910s/20s HSHS All-Decade Team