Clinton downs Heber Springs in junior high action

Landon Brown.Clinton
Heber Springs’ Landon Brown punches his way into the endzone for the Panthers lone score in junior high football. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


CLINTON – Clinton took advantage of three Panther turnovers, raced out to a 28-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 35-7 victory over Heber Springs in junior high action.

Clinton struck quickly scoring on its first possession on a three-play, 53-yard drive. Ayden Hayes capped off the series with a 43-yard scoring run. Dereck Infante added the kick to make it 7-0 Yellowjackets with 6:46 left in the first quarter.

Heber Springs (0-2) started its first possession with back-to-back penalties and on third-and-21 Clinton’s Hayden Jones picked off a Lachlan Tubbs pass at the Panther 34 and returned to the 8. Three plays later Armando Infante would score from the 7 to make 13-0 after the PAT kick failed with 3:58 to play in the first.

The score would remain that way until late in the first half.

The Panthers were threatening to make it a one touchdown game after Hayden Williams recovered a Clinton fumble at the Panther 22 with eight seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Heber Springs would then go on a time-consuming 11-play, 70-yard drive that would take 5:33 off the clock. Aiden Isom would highlight the drive with 16- and 18-yard runs. A fumble would stop the Panthers at the Clinton 8.

Two plays later, Hays would race 89 yards to make it 19-0 with 1:43 left in the half. Armando Infante would run in the 2-point conversion.

The Panthers would fumble on their first offensive play from scrimmage at the 40. David Larkins would return the fumble 10 yards for the Yellowjackets. After Heber Springs stopped Harold McNabb for no gain, Armando Infante ran 40 yards with 60 seconds left in the second quarter to make it 28-0 at the half.

Heber Springs took the second-half ball and failed to gain a first-down turning the ball over after being stopped short on fourth down at the Panther 33.

Conner Bonds hauled in a Dyllin VanHoak 27-yard pass two plays later to make 34-0 with 5:03 left in the third quarter. The Dereck Infante PAT made it 35-0 allowing the mercy-rule continuous running clock to kick in.

Rhett Herring returned the ensuing kickoff 72 yards before being brought down at the Clinton 13. Back-to-back carries by Landon Brown pushed the ball into th endzone. Golden Tate’s kick made it 35-7 with 2:35 to play in the third quarter as neither team threatened again with the running clock.

August 31, 2023
TIME OF POSSESSION: Heber Springs 17:22, Clinton 24:38
TOTAL FIRST DOWNS: Heber Springs 8, Clinton 7
BY RUSH: Heber Springs 8, Clinton 6
BY PASS: Heber Springs 0, Clinton 1
BY PENALTY: Heber Springs 0, Clinton 0
TEAM RUSHING: Heber Springs 31/131/4.2/1, Clinton 19/238/12.5/4
TEAM PASSING: Heber Springs 1/5-7-0/1, Clinton 1/1-27-1/0
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs 36/138/3.8, Clinton 20/265/13.3
3RD CONVERSION: Heber Springs 1/5, Clinton 1/3
4TH CONVERSION: Heber Springs 1/3, Clinton 0/1
TURNOVERS: Heber Springs 3, Clinton 1
FUMBLES/LOST: Heber Springs 5/2, Clinton 3/1
PENALTIES: Heber Springs 4/30, Clinton 3/15
RETURNS: Heber Springs 5/93, Clinton 3/58
PUNTS: Heber Springs 0/0, Clinton 0/0
SACKS: Heber Springs 0/0, Clinton 0/0
TACKLES FOR LOSS: Heber Springs 0/0, Clinton 2/5
RUSHING: Heber Springs, Landon Brown 11/54/1/4.9, Lachlan Tubbs 8/23, Brody Loethen 5/3, Aiden Isom 4/37, Tanner Graham 2/14. Clinton, Ayden Hayes 3/134/2, Armando Infante 5/67/2.
PASSING: Heber Springs, Lachlan Tubbs 1/5-7-0/1.
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Tanner Graham 1/7
KICKOFF RETURNS: Heber Springs, Rhett Herring 3/87/29.0, Landen Peterson 2/6. Clinton 2/32

Junior Panthers tripped up in home-opener

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Heber Springs’ Josiah Riggs fights for extra yards against Southside Batesville Thursday night at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Two big plays in a just over four-minute span cost the Heber Springs Junior Panthers a chance of a season-opening victory Thursday night at Panther Stadium.

Southside Batesville broke a 6-all halftime tie with a pair of late third-quarter and early fourth-quarters touchdowns to claim an 18-6 victory.

Heber Springs took the opening kick-off but couldn’t move the chains as Aiden Isom was stopped for a no gain on a fourth-and-4 play from the Panther 37.

The Panther defense appeared to have stiffened forcing a pair of short runs after Rhett Herring threw Southside’s Karsen McSpadden for a four-yard loss on first down. But with the Southerners facing a fourth-and-8 from the Heber Springs 35, Hanlee Cartmill got behind the Panther secondary and McSpadden connected with him for a 35-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion failed after Southside picked up three penalties on the attempt with 3:28 left in the first quarter.

Five straight fullback runs up the middle by Brody Loethen killed the rest of the first quarter and gave the Panthers a pair of first downs at the Southerner 42. But Heber Springs lost three yards over the next four plays forcing a turnover on downs.

The Southerners then drove to the Panther 17, before a high snap was recovered by Heber Springs’ Landon Brown.

The Panthers managed a first down on a seven-yard run by Landen Peterson, but a fourth-down run by Tanner Graham was stopped two-yards short with 2:03 left before the half.

Heber Springs got another chance before the break on the next play as another snap by Southerner was recovered by Cade Williams at the Southerner 30.

After a loss of a yard on first down, Isom broke free for a 31-yard touchdown run diving for the corner pylon to get the Panthers on the board with 1:07 left in the half. The 2-point conversion leaving the score at 6-all at the break.

The Southerners finished with 13 penalties on the night and on their first possession of the second half four flags frustrated a six-play drive that took 4:43 off the third-quarter clock. That drive only netted two yards and after a 13-yard punt, Heber Springs had the ball at the Southerner 30.

But on the first play of the drive, a Panther fumble was scooped up by Southside’s Cole Vaughn and returned 67 yards for a score with 3:01 left in the stanza. The 2-point conversion was again stopped by the Heber Springs defense.

The Panthers managed a pair of first downs pushing into Southerner territory, but Josiah Riggs was stopped a yard short on fourth down on the first play of the fourth quarter.

On second down, Bryson VanWinkle broke free for a 64-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion was again stopped with 6:48 left.

Isom paced Heber Springs with 51 yards on nine carries and his 10-yard carry gave the Panthers their final first down of the night at the Southerner 33. Two plays later an interception ended Heber Springs’ hope of comeback as Southside killed the clock to end the game.

The start time of the game was pushed back due to an excessive heat warning and a seventh-grade game was changed to intra-squad scrimmage. The game was the first one on the new artificial playing surface that was installed this summer replacing the old turf.

Heber Springs will travel to Clinton Thursday night with a scheduled 6:30 p.m. kick-off. The Panther seventh-grade team will open their season at 5:30 p.m. against Clinton.

August 25, 2023

TIME OF POSSESSION: Heber Springs 16:25, Southside 15:35
TOTAL FIRST DOWNS: Heber Springs 7, Southside 7
BY RUSH: Heber Springs 6, Southside 6
BY PASS: Heber Springs 0, Southside 1
BY PENALTY: Heber Springs 1, Southside 0
TEAM RUSHING: Heber Springs 32/101/3.2, Southside 29/115/4.0
TEAM PASSING: Heber Springs 0/2-0-0/1, Southside 1/3-35-1/0
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs 34/101/3.0, Southside 32/150/4.7
3RD CONVERSION: Heber Springs 1/6, Southside 0/4
4TH CONVERSION: Heber Springs 0/4, Southside 1/2
TURNOVERS: Heber Springs 2, Southside 2
FUMBLES/LOST: Heber Springs 1/1, Southside 2/2
PENALTIES: Heber Springs 2/10, Southside 13/81
RETURNS: Heber Springs 2/10, Southside 3/93
PUNTS: Heber Springs 0/0, Southside 1/13
SACKS: Heber Springs 1/14, Southside 0/0
TACKLES FOR LOSS: Heber Springs 9/66, Southside 8/20
RUSHING: Heber Springs, Brody Loethen 11/27, Aiden Isom 9/51/1, Landen Peterson 4/2, Landon Brown 3/9, Josiah Riggs 3/13, Tanner Graham 2/(-1). Southside, Karsen McSpadden 10/49, Bryson VanWinkle 9/91/1, Jake Roberts 5/16, Korbin Foster 3/(-8), Team 2/(-33).
PASSING: Heber Springs, Landen Peterson 0/2-0-0/1. Southside, Karsen McSpadden 1/1-35-1/0, Korbin Foster 0/2-0-0/0
RECEIVING: Southside, Hanlee Cartmill 1/35/1.
KICKOFF RETURNS: Heber Springs, Rhett Herring 2/10. Southside, Juju Brooks 1/6.
FUMBLE RETURNS: Southside, Cole Vaughn 1/67/1.
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Southside, Karsen McSpadden 1/20

Panthers tangle with Badgers in scrimmage contest

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Heber Springs linebacker Brodie Basford brings down Beebe’s Ty McCormick in first-half action Tuesday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


BEEBE – The Van Paschal era at Heber Springs kicked off Tuesday night.

Paschal, the winningest active coach in Arkansas with 240 career wins, was hired in May after spending the last six seasons at Wynne.

His Panthers traveled to White County to tangle with the Beebe in an Arkansas Activities Association Benefit scrimmage game, with proceeds going toward the catastrophic insurance fund.

The two teams played an untimed first half with first-, second- and third-teams facing off against each other for a set number of plays at the teams own 40. After each play, the ball was brought back to the line of scrimmage. In the second half, the teams played in near normal game conditions with a running clock.

Though no score was officially kept in the first half, both teams scored a touchdown. Parker Brown recovered a fumble and returned it for a score for the first-team Panther defense, while the Badgers added a score right before the break with the third-team on a 60-yard run.

Heber Springs was efficient out the teams new offense, the Flexbone, in the first half moving the ball consistently for four or more yards on each play.

Paschal was pleased with his team’s first half efforts telling them after the game, “that would have been a 21-0 game at the half.”

“I thought we played pretty well up front,” he said. “We were fresh. We ran the ball hard. We were sound and didn’t turn the ball over.”

The second half was different story. Beebe scored a pair of touchdowns, both coming off big plays in the passing game. On the Badgers first possession of the third quarter, a 33-yard pass set up a short touchdown. Beebe added a 68-yard touchdown pass on its final possession of the game.

“We came out sluggish, flat, can’t do that,” Paschal said. “We put the football on the ground.”

For the first time since the 2007 season, the Panthers offense will feature the quarterback calling plays under the center. That unfamiliarity led to several botched snaps and fumbles for Heber Springs, including one that killed the Panthers best drive of the second half that reached inside the Badger 20.

“That’s fixable,” Paschal said. “We were missing snaps. That’s fatigue, that’s what that is.”

Senior Xander Lindley and junior Liam Buffalo, who set out last season after an injury in the spring of 2022 both took first-team snaps under center while junior transfer Brodie Basford getting a bulk of the first-team carries at fullback in the new offense.

“You know the way this thing works is you take what they give,” Paschal said. “If we don’t put the ball on the ground, we have a lot of chewing up yards tonight. That just kills momentum.”

The game also marked the first under new defensive coordinator Kevin Youngblood, who came to Heber Springs after spending last season at Melbourne.

“I thought our defense fought hard all night long and played pretty well,” Paschal said. “We talk about being hard-nosed, physical team.

“You can’t be soft and beat anybody unless you are just really, really good at seven-on-seven. That’s my mentality. That’s coach Youngblood’s mentality. That’s what we are selling.”

Participation numbers were down for the football team when Paschal took over in May with around 20 out for the team. Tuesday night, Heber Springs had 40 on its roster — the most to start a season for the Panthers since the 2019 season.

“It’s a young football team,” Paschal said. “We have fought hard to get numbers up and get the kids out. We are young and fragile right now. We just have to stay together, and we have to fight.”

The Panthers will now get ready for the season-opener against Clinton on Sept. 1 at Panther Stadium. Heber Springs will be looking at breaking a seven-game losing streak to the Yellowjackets.

“We’ll watch film and they’ll be able to see things we have been preaching for three months,” Paschal said. “It’s like my wife said, ‘Are you worried about Beebe? No, not at all. I am worried about us.’

“We have to fix us first. The defense, they kind of have to worry about what the other team does a little bit, but offensively, we practice what they (Clinton) do anyway. We just have to get better at what we are doing.”