Big night in Dover for Panthers

Heber Springs sophomore Gideon Tate fights for some yardage in the fourth quarter against Dover Friday night as Dover’s Landon Meador (44) prepares to make the tackle. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

DOVER – Heber Springs bounced back in a big way and will take momentum into next week’s 2-4A Conference football opener.

The Panthers (1-1) scored on four-of-six first-half possessions and the defense reached the end zone one in Friday’s 44-0 win against Dover (0-4) at Jack Berry Field.

Heber Springs added another touchdown and recorded a safety during the second half and held the Pirates to 23 yards of offense and four first downs. The Panthers had their first shutout since a 21-0 win at Southside Batesville on Oct. 19, 2018.

Sophomore quarterback Xander Lindley completed 12-of-18 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns in his second career start. Parker Brown, also a sophomore, caught three passes for 220 yards, all for touchdowns.

“Anytime you can play on the road and get a win  it is good,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “It also is good to finish the nonconference with a win and take momentum into conference play. We had missed assignments, but overall we executed well.”

The Panthers spent all week on the short passing game, and it paid dividends.

“Dover didn’t have a lot of players on that side of the field,” Brown said. “I got good blocks and was able to get to the end zone. The receivers were blocking well.”

Wood said one of the objectives was to get the ball into Brown’s hands in the open field.

Parker is an explosive player,” Wood said. “But we have to get other players involved in the offense. We can’t rely just on him every game.”

Lindley credited the offensive line for giving him time to execute the passing game.

“I felt more comfortable than the first game,” Lindley said. “My linemen did the job. We worked on the short passes over and over all week in practice until we were able to get it right.”

Wood liked the progress of his quarterback.

“Lindley will gain conference every game,” he said. “He is looking more secure, and I expect him to improve every game.”

Despite the big offensive plays, defense had the play that changed the game late in the first quarter. Chris Edwards intercepted a Jon Greathouse pass and returned it 71 yards for a touchdown, when Heber Springs led 7-0.

“I backed up and saw the ball in the air,” Edwards said. “I just followed my teammates and scored the touchdown. I knew it was going to be a pass because of how they lined up before the play. I was afraid they were going to catch me from behind, but my buddies were blocking for me.”

Wood agreed that Edwards’ score was the game’s biggest play on defense.

“We had dropped two touchdown passes on our last offensive series, but the defense gave us a boost,” Wood said. “The interception helped to get us going. The defense played a fantastic game. That’s why it takes a team effort to win. Sometimes you need to score on the other side of the ball.”

Heber Springs needed only two plays before scoring after forcing a Dover punt following the opening kickoff. Lindley threw incomplete on first down before connecting on a short pass to Brown for a 51-yard touchdown with 8:59 left in the first quarter. Gideon Tate kicked the extra point for the 7-0 lead.

Edwards’ interception return late in the first quarter sent the Panthers into the second quarter with a 14-0 lead.

Heber Springs again utilized the big play and increased the lead to 21-0. Brown caught a pass at the 30-yard line and completed the 76-yard play for the touchdown with 8:01 left in the first half. Tate kicked for the conversion.

On the ensuing kickoff, Zane Lozeau recovered a fumble, giving the Panthers a first down at the Dover 14. Austin Winchester caught a touchdown pass on the next play. Tate kicked the extra point for the 28-0 lead.

Heber Springs reached the end zone one more time before halftime. The Panthers were backed up to their 7-yard line before Lindley threw a short pass to Brown, who ran through the Dover defense for a touchdown. Chandler Webber kicked the extra point for the 35-0 halftime lead.

Heber Springs started the second half by driving 72 yards on nine play, ending with a Lozeau’s 20-yard scoring run. Tate kicked the extra point.

A high snap over Greathouse’s head in punt formation resulted into a safety with 9:25 to play.

“It felt amazing to put 44 points on the board,” Lindley said. “I have confidence in my teammates. We have a lot of athleticism on this team; I believe we can go a long way this season.”

Wood reminded his team after the game that everything will start over Friday when the Panthers host Lonoke in the conference opener.

“We are zero and zero right now,” he said. “Anytime you can win, it builds confidence. All that matter is how we do in conference play. That will determine if we go to the playoffs.”

HEBER SPRINGS AT DOVER
SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 
Heber Springs (1-1)   14  21   7   2 - 44 
Dover (0-4)            0   0   0   0 -  0 
FIRST QUARTER 
HS - Xander Lindley to Parker Brown 51-yard pass (Gideon Tate kick), 8:59
HS - Chris Edwards 71-yard Interception return (Tate kick), 1:19
SECOND QUARTER 
HS - Lindley to Brown 76-yard pass (Tate kick), 8:01
HS - Lindley to Austin Winchester (Tate kick), 7:47
HS - Lindley to Brown 93-yard pass (Chandler Webber kick), 1:58
THIRD QUARTER
HS - Zane Lozeau 20-yard run (Tate kick), 2:22
FOURTH QUARTER
HS - Dafety, snap out of end zone, 7:34
TEAM STATISTICS 
FIRST DOWNS: HS 10, Dover 4
RUSHES-YARDS: HS 9/45, Dover 30/(-30)
PASSING YARDS: HS 318, Dover 53
COMP-ATT-INT: HS 12-20-0, Dover 4-5-1
FUMBLES: HS 1, Dover 1
PENALITIES-YARDS: HS 9/62, Dover 6/52
PUNTS-AVERAGE: HS 0, Dover 5/27.2 
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS 
RUSHING: HS, Zane Lozeau 1/20, Xander Lindley 4/17, Gideon Tate 3/6, Parker Brown 1/2. Dover, Kenny Ketcherside 7/12, Jon Greathouse 18/5, Brantley Craig 2/(-7), Team 3/(-40) 
PASSING: HS, Xander Lindley 12/18-318-4/0, Easton Cusick 0/2-0-0/0. Dover, Jon Greathouse 4/5-53-0/1
RECEVING: HS, Easton Cusick 5/44, Parker Brown 3/220, Gus Hannah 2/33, Austin Winchester 2/14, Dalton Yancey 1/7. Dover, Brantley Craig 2/33, Jacob Baggett 1/13, Colton Shuffield 1/5.
KICKOFF RETURNS: Dover, Brantley Craig 3/28, Jeremiah Mercer 2/3 
PUNT RETURNS: None
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: HS, Chris Edwards 1/71
PUNTS: Dover, Jon Greathouse 5/136

Panther GameDay: Pope County bound

Heber Springs’ Corbin Jones (58) and Kenan Sneed (15) run out on the field for the Panthers home opener last week against Harding Academy. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs players and coaches didn’t dwell on the negatives, but focused on the positives during their season-opener in preparation for the Dover Pirates.

The Panthers plan to bounce back from the loss to Harding Academy in Friday’s nonconference game against the Pirates at Jack Berry Field in Dover. Kickoff is scheduled at 7 p.m.

“We showed more positives compared to last year at this time,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “It was little things, like our blocking techniques and the linemen had better blocking angles. Our defensive linemen did a better job of using their hands. The receiver ran better routes.”

Dover will hold an advantage in game experience over the Panthers by playing three games. The Pirates (0-3) dropped their season opener to Hector (28-6) and lost to Atkins (48-28) and Salem (52-8).

Heber Springs will face a challenge against a different style of offense. Dover operates its version of the Wing-T with the quarterback in shotgun formation.

Quarterback Jon Greathouse, efficient not only as a runner but a passer, leads the Pirates. Brantley Craig and Kenny Ketcherside are the other threats in the backfield.

“It will be a change of direction from Harding, which threw the ball all over the place, to Dover will line up and run more than pass,” Wood said. “Dover, which is a running team likes to keep the clock moving. The quarterback is a good runner and passer with two good runners in the backfield.”

Wood plans little change in starters among the defense, except at the two safety positions. Chris Roberts, who was sidelined by illness in the season opener, and Zach Parker will be the new starters.

One of the keys to the game will be to keep the Pirate in long-yardage situations.

“We must win first down and put them into long-yardage situations on second and third down,” Wood said. “We must play strong on the defensive line.”

Heber Springs will stay with the same starting lineup on offense from the first game. Senior Jackson West will see action at running back and receiver

Sophomore running back Parker Brown will be one of the Panthers to watch. Brown rushed 13 times for 108 yards and had a 56-yard touchdown run against Harding Academy.

Heber Springs will face a different Dover defense, which has switched to a four-man front. The Pirates played a three-man front last season.

“Dover is playing more aggressive on defense than last year,” Wood said. “We don’t plan many changes. Xander was thrown into the fire against Harding and learned from that game. We need to provide better protection for him (Lindley).”

Friday’s game will wrap up the nonconference schedule. The Panthers will host Lonoke in the 2-4A Conference opener on Sept. 24.

“Anytime you end the nonconference with a win will give a team confidence going into conference play,” Wood said.

RADIO/VIDEO STREAMING: 101.9 The Lake. Billy Morgan will handle play-by-play with Lance Hamilton providing the color commentary. Streaming is available on "The Lake's" Youtube page (link).

Heber Springs (0-1) vs. Dover (0-3) 
The Series 
Dover leads 6-4
LAST MEETING: 2020 in Heber Springs, Heber Springs 42, Dover 6
LAST WEEK: Heber Springs lost to Harding Academy, 42-7; Dover lost to Salem, 52-8
TONIGHT: This will be the 11th time these two teams have played each other. The first meeting was in 1987, a 20-14 nonconference victory for Heber Springs. The teams would split four nonconference games from 1987-90, with Dover winning in 1988 (13-7) and 1989 (14-6) and the Panthers winning in 1990, 40-0.
OLD CONFERENCE FOES: The next time Dover and Heber Springs would meet on the gridiron would come in the 1993 season when the Panthers and Pirates meet as members of the 4AA-East conference for three seasons, with Dover winning all three. The two teams would remained paired in the new 5AA-North conference for two seasons (1996-1997) with the teams splitting those two games. 
COVID WOES: Former Heber Springs coach Will Cox' first season at the helm at Dover was an 0-6 campaign with four games canceled last season because of Covid protocols.
LOSING STREAK: Dover has lost 22 consecutive games. The Pirates last win came on Nov. 1, 2018, with a 46-42 victory over Waldron.  

-- Notes by Philip Seaton

Senior Spotlight: John McBroome

Heber Springs senior John McBroome

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs senior John McBroome continues to contribute while on the sidelines because of illness.

McBroome started two games at quarterback in 2020 and contended for the starter’s role this season. He currently walks around the practice field and offers support to teammates and coaches.

“It is a very special season being the 100th year of Panther football,” McBroome said. “I’m glad it came during my senior year. We (seniors) are trying to follow the legacy left by the seniors of the other 99 teams.”

McBroome is one of the players who have been with the program since the seventh grade. He remains hopeful that he will return to the field this season.

He plans to contribute to the program in the meantime.

“I’m going back to the doctor next week, and I hope to get the okay to return soon,” McBroome said. “I try to help the team by handing out water bottes during practice or whatever I can do to help players. I still throw the ball around in warmups to help the the other backs and receivers.”

McBroome is confident of a good performance by his teammates at Dover on Friday and hopes for success during the remainder of the season.

“We have 25 guys who play with a lot of heart and wants to be on the field,” he said. “The game against Harding (Academy) didn’t go our way. We were playing a very good team. It will be an 180-degree difference at Dover.”

Panthers fall in opener to Wildcats

Heber Springs sophomore Parker Brown breaks free from a Harding Academy tackle attempt on his way to 57-yard, third-quarter touchdown run Friday night at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Harding Academy scored on 6-of-7 first-half possessions and defeated the Heber Springs Panthers 42-7 at Panther Stadium Friday.

The Wildcats started their first five possessions in Heber Springs territory, a long touchdown on their sixth and took a knee heading into the half.

Harding Academy held the Panthers to 156 yards of offense, with 99 yards coming during the second half.

Heber Springs avoided a shutout on a four-play, 80-yard drive following the second-half kickoff.

“Harding (Academy) was really good and that’s why they are two-time defending (Class 3A) state champions,” Panther coach Todd Wood said. “We knew defense was their strength. The players learned a lot of things that will help during conference play. I’m very proud of this team. I never saw anyone quit, and they kept fighting until the end of the game.”

Heber Springs quarterback Xander Lindley completed 5-of-10 passes for 24 yards and rushed 11 times for six yards, including sacks, in his first start.

“It was Xander’s first game at quarterback since the eighth grade,” Wood said. “He was going against an  experienced defense. A quarterback will face adversity when playing against a defense of that caliber. He kept his head up and had faith in himself while learning.”

Brown rushed 13 times for 108 yards and scored one touchdown in his first start at running back.

“Parker never quit or backed down,” Wood said. “He will have great games in the future. We need to get him the ball more in the open field.”

Harding Academy began the game by driving 48 yards on 10 plays for its first touchdown. Quarterback Kade Smith finished the drive by scoring on an 8-yard keeper with 8:25 left in the first quarter.

The Wildcats held Heber Springs on downs at the Panther 28-yard line and didn’t wait long to put more points on the scoreboard. Landon Koch caught a scoring pass from Smith with 6:24 to go in the first quarter.

Harding Academy concluded the quarter by capitalizing on a Heber Springs fumble at the Panther 26-yard line. Two plays later, Smith ran 20 yards for a touchdown, giving the Wildcats a 21-0 lead going into the second quarter.

Harding Academy increased its lead on a six-play, 28-yard drive. Smith connected on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Fox with 9:59 left in the first half.

Smith and Fox hooked up on the next Wildcat possession. Harding Academy took advantage of a short punt and started its next series at the Heber Springs 32-yard line.

Fox caught an 11-yard scoring pass from Smith for a 35-0 lead with 7:06 to go until halftime.

The Wildcats reached the end zone one more time when Andrew Miller broke away on an 85-yard touchdown run with 2:38 left in the first half.

Kyle Ferrie kicked all of the extra points as Harding Academy led 42-0 at halftime.

“I challenged them before the game to continue fighting regardless of the score,” Wood said. “I told them at halftime that I knew we were down, but we need to keep fighting and learning, and they did that. we were going against backups, but we still had the effort and showed the ability to turn up our game during the second half.”

On the opening series of the second half, Brown rushed twice for 11 yards for a first down at the Harding Academy 31-yard line. Gus Hannah caught a 13-yard pass from Lindley and a first down at the Wildcat 44-yard line.

Brown put the Panthers on the scoreboard on a 56-yard run with 9:21 left in the third quarter. Gideon Tate kicked the extra point.

“We will be looking at Dover immediately and start the process of fixing things,” Wood said.

Heber Springs will conclude the nonconference schedule at Dover on Friday.

HARDING ACADEMY AT HEBER SPRINGS
SEPTEMBER 10, 2021 
Harding Academy (2-1)   21  21   0   0 - 42 
Heber Springs (0-1)      0   0   7   0 -  7 
FIRST QUARTER 
HA - Kade Smith 8-yard run (Kyle Ferrie kick), 8:25
HA - Andrew Miller to Landon Koch 28-yard pass (Ferrie kick), 6:29 
HA - Smith 22-yard run (Ferrie kick), 3:48
SECOND QUARTER 
HA - Smith to Jackson Fox 14-yard pass (Ferrie kick), 9:59
HA - Smith to Fox 11-yard pass (Ferrie kick), 6:50
HA - Miller 85-yard run (Ferrie kick), 2:38
THIRD QUARTER
HS - Parker Brown 57-yard run (Gideon Tate kick), 9:01
TEAM STATISTICS 
FIRST DOWNS: HA 14, HS 8
RUSHES-YARDS: HA 24/202, HS 29/132
PASSING YARDS: HA 132, HS 24
COMP-ATT-INT: HA 8-12-0, HS 6-13-0
FUMBLES: HA 0, HS 1
PENALITIES-YARDS: HA 9/75, HS 2/10
PUNTS-AVERAGE: HA 2/49.5, HS 5/22.4
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS 
RUSHING: HS, Parker Brown 13/108, Gideon Tate 5/18, Xander Lindley 11/6. HA, Andrew Miller 13/161, Kade Smith 5/36, Jadyn White 1/11, Jack Citty 1/7, Lawson Brooks 1/(-1), Team 1/(-5), Jackson Fox 1/(-7). 
PASSING: HS, Xander Lindley 5/10-24-0/0, Easton Cusick 1/3-0-0/0. HA, Kade Smith 7/10-104-2/0, Andrew Miller 1/1-28-1/0, Jackson Fox 0/1-0-0/0.
RECEVING: HS, Gus Hannah 3/16, Kenan Sneed 1/7, Parker Brown 1/1, Dalton Yancey 1/0. HA, Landon Koch 2/55, Andrew Miller 1/29, Jackson Fox 2/25, Ryan Mcgaha 2/18, Luv Patel 1/15.
KICKOFF RETURNS: HA, Jackson Fox 1/12. 
PUNT RETURNS: None
PUNTS: HS, Xander Lindley 5/112/22.4. HA, Kyle Ferrie 2/99/49.5

HSHS All-Decade Football Team: 1910s/1920s

The 2021 season marks the 100th season of Heber Springs High School football. In honor of that feat, we here at MarkedTime.com are recognizing some of the great athletes that have roamed the halls of Heber Springs High School over that span with the naming of all-decade football teams.

The teams were selected by a panel after extensive local, and statewide, research was done. They are listed in alphabetical order with the last season that they played. No positions were listed because in the early days of Panther football, the players would often play different positions. In one game, they may have started on the line and the next in the backfield.

Heber Springs fielded its first football team in 1913, the same year the school district first offered 12 grades. Prior to that, the highest course offering for a student in Heber Springs was an 11th-grade education. For reasons, either not yet discovered or lost to time, the district would not offer a 12th-grade education level until the 1921-22 school year, which would continue to this day.

With the return of a 12th-grade education, the Panthers would return to the gridiron for the 1921 campaign. Neill Reed had the distinction of playing on the first Panther football team in 1913 and coaching the second one in 1921.

Success was limited in the first decade of Panther football, outside of the unbeaten first season of 1913, the Panthers would not win more than three games in a season during the decade. Heber Springs High School was one of the smallest football playing schools in the state at the time and with no conference schedule that the Panther teams enjoy today, Heber Springs played larger teams such as Conway, Searcy, North Little Rock, Batesville, Russellville and the University of Central Arkansas “B” team, among others.

A toughness, no-quit and take on all challengers, developed in those first teams and many members of this first all-decade team would later use lessons learned on the gridiron to help transform the community of Heber Springs into the town that you know today.

The 1910s/1920s HSHS All-Decade Football Team

1928 – Elmo “Shem” Barnett

1922- Odie Barnett

1929 – James Cheek

1927 – Victor Dickson

1928 – Ward Harness

1926 – Theodore Hodges

1923 – Ted Liles

1913 – Cloy Morton

1928 – Gaston Mullens

1922 – Foley Nunnally

1913 – Ralph Olmstead

1913 – Vern Olmstead

1913 – Neill Reed

1923 – Wayne Stark

1928 – Neil Thomason

Senior Spotlight: Thad Bray

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY
(Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of stories about 2021 seniors playing on the 100th edition of the Heber Springs Panthers.)

Senior tackle Thad Bray is ready to become part of Heber Springs Panther football history.

Bray, a two-year starter on the offensive line, and his teammates will step into Panther Stadium for the program’s 100th year of competition when the Panthers host Harding Academy on Friday night.

“Honestly, that is very surprising,” he said. ” I never knew Heber football had been playing football for 100 years. It will be a special year to all of us.”

Players will wear decals on the back of their helmets celebrating the 100th season.

“The players have been talking with coach (E.G. Dew, who played for the Panthers during the 1980s) about players from the past,” Bray said. “We want to be like those players and do well.”

Bray is a longtime Panther, starting in the peewee program. He likes the direction of the program and wants to be a part of the team that helps the program to turn the corner.

“It still feels strange because of Covid,” said Bray while referring to the effect of Covid-19. “The players hope to make this season a good one. It’s good that we finally are playing another team. The scrimmage at Beebe was fun. Our goal is to improve every game together.”

Panther Game Day: Harding Academy comes to town

Heber Springs’ Austin Winchester fights for yardage in a preseason scrimmage last month at Beebe. The Panthers open their 2021 campaign tonight at home against Harding Academy. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs will begin its 100th season of football against one of its oldest rivals.

The Panthers will host two-time defending Class 3A champion Harding Academy at 7 p.m. Friday in the delayed season opener at Panther Stadium.
Newport canceled last week’s scheduled opening game to Heber Springs because of Covid-19 reasons. Nonconference games not played for Covid reasons are counted as non-contests, while conference games will be counted as forfeit wins or losses.

HARDING ACADEMY (1-1) AT HEBER SPRINGS (0-0)
PANTHER STADIUM
KICKOFF: 7 p.m.
LAST WEEK: Heber Springs was off; Harding Academy lost at Valley View 31-30
LAST MEETING: 2019 at Harding Academy, a 45-6 win by the Wildcats
SERIES: Harding Academy leads 36-14

NOTES: With Newport canceling the opener last week, tonight's opener will be the latest first game for Heber Springs since Sept. 11, 1959, when the Panthers beat Clinton, 25-0 ... Heber Springs has not won a season-opener since 2015 (a 35-20 win at Clinton). The Panthers last home-opening win came in 2014 with a 29-16 win over Clinton ... Heber Springs is 0-4 all-time in season-openers against Harding Academy ... Besides being the 100th season of Panther football, the opener tonight begins the 60th year of Panther Stadium. The Stadium opened on Sept. 1, 1962, when the Panthers dropped a 7-6 decision to McCrory ... Heber Springs is 3-16 all-time at Panther Stadium against Harding Academy ... The teams first met in 1951, the first season that Harding Academy had football, as conference foes. The two teams were part of the 2B conference. The two teams would be part of the 2B conference for 17 seasons with the Wildcats winning 11 of the 17 games ... Harding Academy is a 3A school but with a new rule passed by the Arkansas Activities Association this summer based on performance of private schools using a points system, the Wildcats have already accrued enough points that they will be moving up to class 4A next season. Those private schools that move up will be added as the ninth team to any conference they are assigned to. All indications are that the Panthers and Wildcats will be conference foes next season. The AAA will release next season's conference assignments after the completion of this season. 

“It was disappointing when we learned that Newport would be unable to play us, but the players quickly turned their attention to Harding Academy,” Panther coach Todd Wood said. “The extra time gave us an opportunity to let players gain experience at playing different positions, which will help us when starting conference play.”

The Wildcats (1-1) are coming off a 31-30 loss at Class 5A Valley View in Jonesboro.

Harding Academy had major graduation losses on offense, but the Wildcats have been productive through two games.

Junior quarterback Kade Smith, who started at safety during most of last season, leads the offense. Smith has completed 32-of-42 passes for 477 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.

Andrew Miller is the leading rusher for the Wildcats with 23 carries for 96 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson Fox is Smith’s favorite receiver with 11 catches for 241 yards and one touchdown.

“Harding reloads, not rebuilds,” Wood said. “The new guys have not miss a beat. They still play with a lot of discipline and also are very aggressive. Harding will have an advantage with two games under its belt.”

Linebacker Levi Mercer and end Eli Wallis lead the Harding Academy defense with 11 tackles each. The Wildcats, who have allowed 39 points in two games, return nine of 11 starters.

“We know most of Harding’s experience returns was on defense,” Wood said. “But offensively, they have not missed a beat.”

Wood feels more comfortable about his team with an offseason of weight room work, spring practice and summer workouts.

“We are farther ahead than at this time last year,” Wood said. “We understand our roles, plays and assignments better.”

The Panthers will start an all-sophomore backfield with quarterback Xander Lindley and running back Parker Brown. Lindley was a starting receiver for last season’s successful junior high school team, though he did play some at quarterback as an eighth-grader, and Brown started at running back. Gideon Tate, another sophomore, and senior Jackson West also will see action in the backfield.

Two starters return on the offensive line — left guard Peyton Owens and left tackle Thad Bray. Tristan Thissen will start at right guard and Corbin Jones at right tackle. Sophomore Joenah Cordell was named the starting center in the place of Zach Thomas, who is sidelined because of illness for at least two more weeks.

Gus Hannah and Easton Cusick lead an experience receiving corp. Dalton Yancey, another sophomore, Austin Winchester and Chris Edwards will be among other players to watch in the passing game.

“Lindley developed with a strong arm during the summer,” Wood said. “He continues to learn how the offense works. We needed a quarterback with mobility and who can make plays downfield when the pocket breaks down. Bray and Owens are solid players on the line. The players have worked hard and ready for the season to start.”

On defense, Lucas Langster and Jones will start at the ends with Blaze Emerson at nose guard. Chris Benton, who was expected to start on the defensive line, is sidelined indefinitely with a hand injury.

Kenan Sneed, the leading tackler for the Panthers last season, leads the linebacking corps. Thissen will start at the other inside linebacker. Chris Roberts, Hayden Johnson, Hayden Davis and Tate will split time at the two outside linebackers.

Edwards will start at cornerback with Zane Lozeau and Zack Parker splitting time at the other cornerback. Gage Buford and Colton Turley are the starters at the safeties.

“Sneed is the leader of the defense,” Wood said. “Hayden Johnson will start at outside linebacker. He’s small but makes up for it with his speed and aggressive player. Langster returns on the defensive line. I expect Cordell and Emerson to contribute. Owens and Bray also will play on the defensive line. Thissen will play at inside linebacker.”

Wood said the team is ready, and he expects a good performance.

“We need to  get the season going and learn our weaknesses,” he said. “It will help in preparing for the conference season. One of our downfalls last year was quick turnovers. We must execute and move the ball to stay in games.”

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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