By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY
Senior offensive-defensive lineman Payton Owens cherishes the opportunity of following the footsteps of his grandfather and play for the Heber Springs Panthers.
Owens, the grandson of Verlon Abram, returns at right guard and playing more of a role as the nose guard on defense in the 100th year of Heber Springs football.
Abram, who was selected to the Markedtime.com 1960s All-Decade team at offensive tackle, played for the Panthers from 1967-69 and was one of the leaders on the offensive and defensive lines. He had 12 tackles against Clinton and 11 against DeValls Bluff during the 1968 season.
Owens welcomes the challenge of keeping the family legacy alive.
“It’s special to be part of the 100th Panther team and play for the same school as my grandfather,” Owens said. “I’m working to stay in good physical condition so I can continue to play both ways. I like playing in the trenches. I want to make sure to block my guy as far away from the play as possible.”
Even with the 1-2 start to the season, Owens and his teammates hope to put more wins on the board by the end of the season.
“I’m trying to play the best I can because we don’t have many linemen,” Owens said. “The mentality of the offensive and defensive linemen is to play hard and make this the best year it can be.”
Heber Springs will play at Stuttgart in a statewide television game on Thursday. Owens likes his team’s chances to be successful.
“I feel good going into the game,” Owens said. “I like the new things (blocking schemes) we’re working on. I feel we have a good chance to win.”