Panthers begin offseason work

IMG_9045_(2)
Heber Springs junior defensive lineman Corbin Jones tangles with a Harding Academy lineman in nonconference action last season. The Wildcats will be a conference beginning this season. PHILIP SEATON FILE PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

An injury will force reshuffling of the backfield for the Heber Springs Panthers football team.

Sophomore Liam Buffalo, who was projected to become the starting quarterback at the conclusion of spring practice, recently suffered a knee injury while playing baseball and underwent surgery Friday. Buffalo, who participated for the junior high school football, basketball and track and field, plus he was a starter on the high school baseball team last year. is expected to miss the 2022 football season.

Buffalo led the Panther Cubs to a 13-5 record during the past two football seasons. He completed 82-of147 passes for 1,160 yards and 15 touchdowns with only one interception last season. He rushed 101 times for 931 yards and scored 15 touchdowns.

“We are disappointed in losing Liam,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said when asked about the team’s reaction. “Liam was looking forward to moving up to high school. He has a bright a future ahead and good things are coming.”

Junior Xander Lindley, last year’s starter before breaking his collarbone against Bald Knob, will assume the quarterback duties fulltime. Lindley had moved to wide receiver during spring practice.

Senior Easton Cusick, a two-year starter at receiver, will be Lindley’s backup. Cusick replaced Lindley when he was injured during the second series of the Bald Knob game.

In 2021, Lindley completed 35-of-62 passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed 58 times for 180 yards and scored two touchdowns. Cusick connected on 51-of-104 passes for 389 yards and two touchdowns.

“If there is a good part to this, we still have two guys coming back with experience,” Wood said. “I talked with Xander and told him that it was going back on his shoulders again.”

Lindley had his best game of last season against Central Arkansas Christian when he completed 11-of-13 passes for 113 yards and ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

“Xander was getting to his peak before the injury,” Wood said. “He had a great game against CAC. He and Parker Brown were becoming a dual threat in the backfield. This situation is an opportunity for Xander to rise up and do well.”

Wood said Lindley may play occasionally at receiver and in the defensive secondary.

Meanwhile, building an efficient offensive and defensive lines also will be focal points going into the new season. The Panthers return one experienced offensive lineman (Corbin Jones), but Wood liked the progress going into summer workouts.

“Corbin started last year as a sophomore and will be our left tackle,” Wood said. We have two players who were on last year’s junior high school team — Axley Davis (6-2, 270 pounds) and Gauge Owens (5-9, 200 pounds), who are battling for starting roles.”

Tripp Young (6-1, 260 pounds), who will be a senior, was on the team last year, and Wood expects Young to make an impact on the offensive and defensive lines.

“The coaching staff is excited about him (Young) coming back,” Wood said. “We expect good things from him as one of our guards. He also will be a strong player on the defensive line. We don’t have much depth on the offensive and defensive lines. Our main focus during the spring was getting the offensive and defensive lines ready.”

On a brighter side, most of last year’s skilled position players return.

“I’ve been pleased with the performance of the returning players,” Wood said. “They jumped right in there because they already knew what to do. We are ahead of last year on both sides of the ball. The returning players have positive attitudes and provided leadership, both from seniors and some of our younger players.”

Brown led the Panthers in rushing (113-834 yards, 11 touchdowns) and receiving (17-314 yards, five TDs). He also became the first player in school history with a 200-yard rushing and receiving games during the same season. Brown also rushed for 100 yards or more in four games. Brown excelled in the return game by returning 10 kickoffs for 195 yards and four punts for 65 yards.

Junior Dalton Yancey emerged as one of the team’s primary targets during the second half of last season by catching 15 passes for 122 yards.

“We have players with experience at receiver,” Wood said.

Warden rushed 48 times for 247 yards and scored two touchdowns for the junior high team last season. He caught 30 passes for 655 yards and seven touchdowns.

“Weston played running back for the junior high team last season, but he has worked at receiver,” Wood said. “Weston has speed and good hands.”

Gideon Tate, who made 17-of-18 points after touchdowns last season, returns at placekicker and ranks among the best in the state.

“I like the onside kickoff, but challenged Tate if he can kick it into the end zone consistently, we will do that more,” Wood said. “He is a good kicker.”

Linebacker Kenan Sneed will lead the defensive charge for the third straight season. Sneed led the Panthers with 115 tackles, including 17 for losses last season — it was the second straight season for Sneed to record more than 100 tackles. He had two quarterback sacks. Sneed also turned in one of the top plays of the season, a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown to switch the momentum in the win at Bald Knob.

Chris Edwards will move from cornerback to outside linebacker. Edwards ranked second among tacklers with a total of 66 stops, including seven for losses. He also had a 71-yard interception return for a touchdown against Dover.

“It’s good to have your leading tackler back coming back,” Wood said. “We will try and put guys around him, like Jacob McMullin, to build a stronger defense. Jacob is coming up from the junior high team and will be a solid inside linebacker. He will be in a good situation playing next to Kenan.”

Edwards and Zack Parker are the projected starters at outside linebackers. Parker started at safety for most of last season.

“Chris Roberts played safety and outside linebacker last year,” Wood said. “(Sophomore) Kaden Terrell has speed and plays aggressively. Warden played at cornerback in junior high. We are trying to put the right pieces in the right places.”

Wood said candidates are available to step in and play at safety.

“Colton Turley didn’t play last year, but he came back and can become a solid safety,” Wood said. “We have a lot of guys to look at.”

Panther GameDay: Win or go home for both Heber Springs, Mills

IMG_4778_(2)

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Class 4A state football playoffs will start for the Heber Springs Panthers on Friday.

Heber Springs (2-4 in 2-4A Conference, 3-5 overall) will finish the regular season against Little Rock Mills (2-4 in 2-4A Conference, 5-4 overall) in a 2-4A Conference game at Comet Stadium in Little Rock. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The Panthers and Comets are tied for fifth place with Friday’s winner advancing to play at Joe T. Robinson in the opening round of the playoffs next week.

“We are going into the game with the mindset this is the beginning of a playoff run,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “Playing Mills will be a big challenge. We are 48 minutes from the playoffs. All I asked the players is to give it their all. If we do that, everything will be OK. The players know the task at hand.”

Turnovers doomed the Panther offense in last week’s 34-7 loss to Clinton. A lost fumble was one of the game’s biggest plays early in the third quarter. A misconnection on the handoff gave the ball to the Yellowjackets at the Heber Springs 27.

Clinton held the Panthers to 207 yards of offense. Running back Parker Brown rushed six times for 69 yards and caught seven passes for 36 yards and scored one touchdown. Quarterback Easton Cusick completed 16-0f-33 passes for 99 yards with three interceptions.

“The key to the game on offense is not turning the ball over,” Wood said. “We moved the ball against Clinton, but we would have one or two plays that took us out of rhythm or led to a turnover.”

Heber Springs will welcome back sophomore outside linebacker Hayden Johnson, the team’s second-leading tackler on the season. Johnson missed the Clinton game because of a concussion suffered against Southside Batesville.

“Hayden is ready to go,” Wood said. “We’re as healthy as we can be. Our defense played well most of the year. We started well against Southside before we got wore down. After playing two running-dominated teams (Southside and Clinton), we must adjust because Mills will throw the ball more. The big key on defense is to get more three-and-outs.”

The Comets started the season with five consecutive wins, including two conferences games, before the current four-game losing streak.

Sophomore quarterback Achilles Ringo makes the Mills’ offense goes. Ringo has completed 134-of-195 passes for 1,049 yards and 17 touchdowns. He connected on 20-of-24 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 64-20 loss to Southside.

Ringo triggered the Comets’ second half comeback last year against the Panthers when he completed 8-of-10 passes for 105 yards. Mills trailed 24-12 early in the third quarter as the Comets rallied for a 34-24 win.

Juniors Jabrae Shaw and Daniel Brown are the major weapons in the running game. Shaw leads Mills with 61 carries for 785 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also has caught 29 passes for 486 yards and five touchdowns. Brown has ran for 587 yards on 50 attempts with five touchdowns. Senior fullback Boyce Mitchell has rushed for 417 yards on 55 carries and scored one touchdown.

Junior Anton Pierce is the Comets leading receiver with 32 catches for 649 yards and eight touchdowns. Pierce caught three passes for 80 yards against Southside. O.J. King, who started at quarterback last year against Heber Springs, caught 11 passes for 165 yards and one touchdown in last week’s game.

“He (Ringo) throws well,” Wood said. “Mills has speed and size, and it doesn’t hide what they do. He gets the ball to the playmakers. Mills also will line up and try and run from the wishbone.

Wood said Mills plays a 4-3 defense with an aggressive front seven. The Comets have yielded 35 points per game.

“They rely on the guys up front and the linebackers,” he said. “They are capable of putting a lot of pressure on an offense.”

Ten freshmen moved to the high school team last week after completion of the junior high school season. Wood said the group helped to close some of the gap with the team’s depth concern, especially on defense.

“Axley Davis (6-1, 260 pounds) is a big lineman that can play on the offensive and defensive lines,” he said. “Carter Julian will play at defensive back. Other freshmen also could see action.”

Help support local and independent journalism by donating today.

Donate

2A-4 CONFERENCE STANDINGS
                            W L CP  W L PS  PA 
Stuttgart                   6 0 68  8 1 359 182 
Lonoke                      4 2 52  7 2 302 169
Southside Batesville        5 1 54  7 2 355 164                      
Clinton                     4 2 49  5 4 272 257
Little Rock Mills           2 4 26  5 4 320 313   
Heber Springs               2 4 20  3 5 140 222  
Bald Knob                   1 5 13  1 8 148 285
Central Arkansas Christian  0 6  0  2 7 211 418    

Friday, October 29
Clinton 34, Heber Springs 7
Southside Batesville 64, Little Rock Mills 20
Stuttgart 45, Lonoke 28
Bald Knob 39, Central Arkansas Christian 20
Friday, November 5
Heber Springs at Little Rock Mills
Southside Batesville at Bald Knob
Lonoke at Clinton
Central Arkansas Christian at Stuttgart
  • Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Mills
  • Radio/Streaming: Billy Morgan will handle the play-by-play while Lance Hamilton with handle the color on KSUG 101.9 The Lake. Panther Pregame begins at 6:45 p.m. followed by the game.  Listen Live Link

GAME NOTES

THE SERIES: Heber Springs leads the series 2-1.

SERIES HISTORY: Though this is the third time the Panthers have faced Little Rock Mills, Heber Springs did play the two of the schools that consolidated to form Mills University Studies. The Panthers went 0-4 from 1955 through 1959 against Little Rock Fuller, and 0-3-1 against Mabelvale from 1955 through 1958. Heber Springs won the first two in the series, 47-6 at Panther Stadium in 2018 and 28-14 at Mills in 2019, while the Comets won last season, 34-24.

MOVING UP: Mills will move back up to Class 5A for the next cycle so tonight’s contest will be the last time the two teams meet for at least two years.

CONFERENCE SEEDING: Stuttgart has clinched the No. 1 seed and can clinch the outright 2-4A title with a win tonight against CAC. Southside Batesville will be the No. 2 seed and could earn a share of a conference title with a win and a Stuttgart loss. Clinton and Lonoke will meet tonight for the No. 3 seed with the loser getting the No. 4 seed. Heber Springs and Mills winner will be the No. 5 seed at play at Joe T. Robinson next week.

Junior Panthers open with win over Clinton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEBER SPRINGS/CLINTON GAME STATS

FIRST DOWNS: HS 10, C 15
PENALITIES: HS 3/35, C 5/25
RUSHING: HS 14/194/13.9, C 42/90/2.1
FUMBLES: HS 0, C 0
PASSING (C/A-YARDS) HS 4/9-92, C 9/15-87
INTERCEPTIONS: HS 0, C 0
SACKED-YARDS LOST: HS 0, C 1-8
TOTAL OFFENSE: HS 292, C 177
TURNOVERS: HS 0, C 0
ONSIDE KICKS: HS 0/0, C 0/3
2-PT CONVERSIONS: HS 4/4, C 2/4
PUNTS/AVG: HS 1/48, C 3/29.3

RUSHING (ATT/YARDS/TDS): HS, Liam Buffalo 8/143/2, Weston Warden 3/65/1, Logan Rutledge 1/(-2), Team 2/(-12). Clinton, Rope Williams 12/37/1, Rylan Jones 11/40, Zack Hunt-Gonzalez 10/45/2, Brodie Dufrene 5/3/1, Sam Standridge 3/4, Brayson Littell 1/1. 
PASSING (COMP/ATT-YARDS-TDS/INTS): HS, Buffalo 4/9-92-1/0. Clinton, Dufrene 9/14-87-0/0, Littell 0/1-0-0/0
RECEIVING: HS, Seth Dudeck 1/42, Carter Julian 1/38/1, Warden 1/12, Rutledge 1/10. Clinton, Standridge 3/29, Jones 3/20, Liam Hudson 2/25, Williams 1/13.

HEBER SPRINGS JUNIOR HIGH SCHEDULE

(All Games Start at 7 p.m.)

Aug. 26 – Heber Springs 32, Clinton 28

Sep. 09 – at Harding Academy

Sep. 16 – Dover

Sep. 23 – at Lonoke *

Sep. 28 – Stuttgart *

Oct. 07 – at Central Arkansas Christian *

Oct. 14 – Bald Knob *

Oct. 21 – at Southside Batesville *

Oct. 28 – at Clinton *

(* – Denotes conference contest)

HEBER SPRINGS JUNIOR HIGH ROSTER

(Alphabetical and listed with grade)

8TH- Eli Buffalo

9TH – Liam Buffalo

8TH- Caleb Carr

9TH – Axley Davis

8TH- Seth Dudeck

8TH- Jack Duvall

8TH- Emitt Dwyer

9TH- Tyler Dye

8TH- Nate Eaton

9TH – Luke Elliott

8TH – Nash Farmer

8TH- Lucas Garcia

8TH – Britt Grice

8TH- Cooper Holmes

8TH- Cade James

8TH- Tripp Johnston

8TH – Elijah Jones

9TH – Carter Julian

9TH – Jacob McMullin

9TH – Justin Newton

9TH – Braidyn Ogle

9TH – Gauge Owens

8TH – Casey Pearce

9TH – Crimson Pettigrew

9TH – Logan Rutledge

8TH- Jeremiah Sanders

8TH- Seth Smith

9TH – Damien Standridge

9TH- Weston Warden

9TH- Ty West

8TH – John Wilson

Final Heber Springs Junior High Stats

SCORING BY QUARTERS
Heber Springs    56   92  38  61 - 247 (30.9 ppg)
Opponent         12   56  34  52 - 154 (19.3 ppg)

TEAM STATS  
First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 35, Opponent 60
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 71, Opponent 12 
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 3, Opponent 9 
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 109, Opponent 81 
Penalties: Heber Springs 38/315, Opponent 39/257 
3rd-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 20/52, Opponent 20/59
4th-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 15/27, Opponent 11/22 
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 8/2, Opponent 10/6 
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 6/62, Opponent 0/0 
Rush/Yards/Avg: Heber Springs 104/641/6.2, Opponent 230/1026/4.5
Rushing Yards Per Game: Heber Springs 80.1, Opponent 128.3
Passing (A/C-Yards-TD/Int): Heber Springs 125/203-1870-23/6, Opponent 33/78-487-6/7
Passing Yards Per Game: Heber Springs 233.8, Opponent 60.9 
Total Offense: Heber Springs 2511, Opponent 1513 
Total Offense Per Game: Heber Springs 313.9, Opponent 189.1  
Punts: Heber Springs 2/43/21.5, Opponent 14/460/32.9

INDIVIDUAL STATS  
OFFENSE  
Rushing: Liam Buffalo 21/147/2, Gideon Tate 26/137/1, Weston Warden 23/115/1, Parker Brown 11/112/2, Dalton Yancey 6/61/1, Xander Lindley 4/51/1, Hayden Johnson 5/25, Hud Haggard 1/9, Jacob Golden 1/5, Ladd Choate 2/5, Bryce Seigrist 1/(-6), Team 3/(-22). 
Passing: Liam Buffalo 122/199-1787-22/6, Zachary Parker 3/3-83-1/0, Parker Brown 0/1-0-0/0 
Receiving: Parker Brown 32/602/7, Dalton Yancey 26/419/6, Xander Lindley 27/557/6, Weston Warden 15/156/2, Hud Haggard 15/115/2, Ty West 5/21, Chris Roberts 1/28, Gideon Tate 1/0
Kickoff Returns: Heber Springs, Parker Brown 5/155/1, Corbin Jones 4/4, Hud Haggard 3/0, Xander Lindley 3/95/1, Chris Roberts 2/0, Zachary Parker 1/0, Jude Bray 1/0, Dalton Yancey 1/0 
Punt Returns: Xander Lindley 1/13
Interception Returns: Parker Brown 3/108/2, Liam Buffalo 2/0, Logan Rutledge 1/0, Dalton Yancey 1/0.
Total Offense: Liam Buffalo 1934, Gideon Tate 137, Weston Warden 115, Parker Brown 112, Zachary Parker 83, Dalton Yancey 61, Xander Lindley 51, Hayden Johnson 25, Hud Haggard 9, Jacob Golden 5, Ladd Choate 5, Bryce Seigrist (-6).
All-Purpose Yards: Parker Brown 977, Xander Lindley 716,  Dalton Yancey 480, Weston Warden 271, Liam Buffalo 147,  Gideon Tate 137, Hud Haggard 124, Chris Roberts 28, Hayden Johnson 25, Ty West 21, Jacob Golden 5, Ladd Choate 5, Corbin Jones 4, Bryce Seigrist (-6).
DEFENSE  
Sacks/Yards lost:  Parker Brown 4/41, Hud Haggard 1/11, Chris Roberts 1/10
Interceptions: Liam Buffalo 2, Parker Brown 3, Dalton Yancey 1, Logan Rutledge 1,  
Fumble Recoveries: Ladd Choate, Xander Lindley, Dalton Yancey, Axley Davis, Hayden Johnson, Team  
Punts: Liam Buffalo 2/43/21.5 
SCORING
Parker Brown 84, Xander Lindley 54, Dalton Yancey 48, Gideon Tate 29 (20/21 XP, 1/1 FG. MADE: 25), Weston Warden 18, Hud Haggard 12, Liam Buffalo 12

Heber Springs Junior High Season Stats: Through 6 Games

SCORING BY QUARTERS
Heber Springs    42   64  38  41 - 185 (30.8 ppg)
Opponent          6   40  14  22 -  82 (13.7 ppg)

TEAM STATS  
First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 25, Opponent 34
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 53, Opponent 12 
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 2, Opponent 6 
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 80, Opponent 52 
Penalties: Heber Springs 26/215, Opponent 30/197 
3rd-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 17/41, Opponent 10/42
4th-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 12/20, Opponent 7/18 
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 7/2, Opponent 9/6 
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 6/62, Opponent 0/0 
Rush/Yards/Avg: Heber Springs 80/479/6, Opponent 144/532/3.7
Rushing Yards Per Game: Heber Springs 79.8, Opponent 88.7 
Passing (A/C-Yards-TD/Int): Heber Springs 91/154-1448-18/3, Opponent 31/72-467-6/6
Passing Yards Per Game: Heber Springs 241.3, Opponent 77.8 
Total Offense: Heber Springs 1927, Opponent 999
Total Offense Per Game: Heber Springs 321.2, Opponent 166.5  
Punts: Heber Springs 2/43/21.5, Opponent 11/374/34 

INDIVIDUAL STATS  
OFFENSE  
Rushing: Gideon Tate 26/137/1, Weston Warden 15/100/1, Dalton Yancey 6/61/1, Parker Brown 9/61/1, Liam Buffalo 9/56/1, Xander Lindley 3/36/1,  Hayden Johnson 5/25, Hud Haggard 1/9, Jacob Golden 1/5, Ladd Choate 2/5, Bryce Seigrist 1/(-6), Team 2/(-11). 
Passing: Liam Buffalo 88/150-1365-17/3, Zachary Parker 3/3-83-1/0, Parker Brown 0/1-0-0/0 
Receiving:  Dalton Yancey 21/385/5, Parker Brown 19/445/6, Xander Lindley 17/399/4, Hud Haggard 13/105/2, Weston Warden 11/103/1, Ty West 5/21, Chris Roberts 1/28, Gideon Tate 1/0
Kickoff Returns: Heber Springs, Hud Haggard 3/0, Corbin Jones 2/0, Xander Lindley 2/81/1, Parker Brown 2/40, Zachary Parker 1/0.  
Punt Returns: Xander Lindley 1/13
Interception Returns: Parker Brown 2/46/1, Liam Buffalo 2/0, Logan Rutledge 1/0, Dalton Yancey 1/0.
Total Offense: Liam Buffalo 1421, Gideon Tate 137, Weston Warden 100, Zachary Parker 83, Dalton Yancey 61, Parker Brown 61, Xander Lindley 36, Hayden Johnson 25, Hud Haggard 9, Jacob Golden 5, Ladd Choate 5, Bryce Seigrist (-6).
All-Purpose Yards: Parker Brown 592, Xander Lindley 529,  Dalton Yancey 446, Weston Warden 203, Gideon Tate 137, Hud Haggard 114, Liam Buffalo 56, Chris Roberts 28, Hayden Johnson 25, Ty West 21, Jacob Golden 5, Ladd Choate 5,  Bryce Seigrist (-6).
DEFENSE  
Sacks/Yards lost:  Parker Brown 4/41, Hud Haggard 1/11, Chris Roberts 1/10
Interceptions: Liam Buffalo 2, Parker Brown 2, Dalton Yancey 1, Logan Rutledge 1,  
Fumble Recoveries: Ladd Choate, Xander Lindley, Dalton Yancey, Axley Davis, Hayden Johnson, Team  
Punts: Liam Buffalo 2/43/21.5 
SCORING
Parker Brown 60, Xander Lindley 42, Dalton Yancey 38, Gideon Tate 25 (16/17 XP, 1/1 FG. MADE: 25), Weston Warden 12, Hud Haggard 12, Liam Buffalo 6

Heber Springs dominates second half, downs Bald Knob

Heber Springs’ Xander Lindley, Parker Brown and Dalton Yancey as the team gets ready to run on to the field Thursday at Bald Knob. The “paw boys” scored all four touchdowns in the Panthers 29-7 win. The trio also combined for 14 receptions for 222 yards. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By PHILIP SEATON

BALD KNOB – Heber Springs overcame a sluggish start to improve to 5-1 on the season with a 29-8 victory over Bald Knob in junior high football action Thursday night.

The Panthers, 3-1 in 2-4A play, trailed 8-7 late in the first half before scoring 22 unanswered to pull away from the Bulldogs. Liam Buffalo, who was 19 of 27 passing for 288 yards and four touchdowns, hit Parker Brown over the middle for a 57-yard scoring strike with 35.4 seconds left in the half. Buffalo connected with Xander Lindley for the 2-point pass to give Heber Springs a 15-7 advantage at the break.

From that point on, the Panther defense took control.

Heber Springs’ Hud Haggard reacts after a first-down stop by the Panther defense in the second half.

Bald Knob finished the night with 192 yards of total offense on the night, with the majority of that came in the first half, but Heber Springs limited the Bulldogs to 22 yards in the second half and forced three Bald Knob turnovers over that span (fumble recoveries by Axley Davis and Hayden Johnson, and an interception by Dalton Yancey).

Yancey’s interception set up the first score of the second half for the Panthers. Taking over on their own 32, Heber Springs used an 11-play, 68-yard drive to go up 22-8 when Buffalo connected with Yancey for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 42.6 seconds left in the quarter. Gideon Tate, who was three-for-three on PAT kicks on the night, kicked the extra point to make it 22-8. Buffalo was nine of 10 passing on the drive using five different receivers (Tate, Hud Haggard, Brown, Lindley and Yancey – who also had a first-half fumble recovery).

Heber Springs Parker Brown forces a fumble. Maddox Reed (66) helps on the play.

Another turnover set up the next score for Heber Springs in the fourth quarter, Brown sacked Bald Knob quarterback James Holder forcing the fumble. Johnson picked up the ball but was tripped up after a seven-yard return to put the ball on the Bulldog 34.

Heber Springs showed a different look on the next drive with Brown lined up in the “Wildcat” formation. A 12- and 8-yard run by Brown moved the ball to the Bulldog 14. A backwards pass attempt to Buffalo was mishandled on third down forcing a fourth-and-14 from the Bald Knob. But on fourth down, Buffalo took the snap connected with Lindley for the 26-yard touchdown pass.

Heber Springs’ Weston Warden.

Lindley finished the night six receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns, including a 13-yard reception with 2:02 left in the first quarter that put Heber Springs up 7-0.

Bald Knob’s score came with 1:26 left in the first half as Holder connected with Garrett Swindle for an 8-yard touchdown pass. Javen Smith ran in the 2-point conversion.

The Panthers finished with 300 yards of total offense on the night. Brown led Heber Springs with 127 all-purpose yards (79 receiving, 21 rushing and 27 returns).

Bald Knob’s Jameson Hillis led all rushers with 75 yards on 20 carries. But as a team, the Bulldogs finished the night with 67 yards on the ground on 28 attempts.

Heber Springs will host Southside Batesville on Thursday at Panther Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

A bloody-knee doesn’t stop Heber Springs’ Liam Buffalo as he gets ready to hand the ball off to teammate Gideon Tate. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Panther 7th-Graders claim win in final seconds

Heber Springs quarterback Liam Buffalo looks for running room as coaches Drew Lawrence and Jay Bishop look on during seventh-grade football action in Searcy. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

September 12, 2019

By PHILIP SEATON

SEARCY – Heber Springs scored a touchdown in the final minute to pull out an 18-14 victory over Harding Academy Thursday night in Searcy.

The Panthers improved to 2-0 with the win and will be off next week before returning to action on September 27 at Lonoke.

On Thursday, it was last-minute heroics that got the win for the Panthers.

Heber Springs Ty West running up field against Harding Academy on Thursday. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

After Harding went up 14-12 with 4:36 to play, Heber Springs marched the ball downfield mainly on the legs of quarterback Laim Buffalo, but the drive appeared to stall with the Panthers facing a fourth-and-5 from the Wildcat 17. Instead of going with the legs of Buffalo, it was his arm as he connected with Weston Warden who caught the short pass and did the rest racing 17 yards for the score with 53.7 seconds left. The two-point conversion failed.

The Panther defense held Harding Academy and Heber Springs came away with the win.

Heber Springs’ Axley Davis takes the hand-off from Panther quarterback Liam Buffalo Thursday night in Searcy. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Heber Springs struck first as Buffalo connected with Warden with a 77-yard touchdown pass to put the Panthers up 6-0 with 11:21 to play in the first half.

After Harding Academy tied things up at 6-all with 5:41, Heber Springs struck right before halftime as Buffalo found Bryce Seigrest on a 60-yard touchdown pass.

Turnovers plagued Heber Springs in the second half leading to Harding Academy to taking the lead. After a turnover and the ensuing drive reached inside the Panther 25, Heber Springs’ defense stiffened and stopped the Wildcats on fourth down. But another turnover gave Harding Academy the ball back which led to Wildcat score.

Panther Cubs open with win over Clinton

September 5, 2019

Heber Springs’ Harper Jones fights for extra yards against Clinton in seventh-grade football action on Thursday. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By PHILIP SEATON

CLINTON – Axley Davis’ three-yard touchdown run with 2:03 provided the go-ahead spark as Heber Springs downed Clinton, 18-12, in seventh-grade football action Thursday night at Tumlison Field.

After Heber Springs failed to score on its first possession of the game, Clinton struck first as Liam Hudson connected with Peyton Sellers for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 10:33 to play in the first half. The two-point run failed.

The Panthers tied things up with 4:33 left in half as quarterback Liam Buffalo kept the ball and raced 69 yards for the game-tying score. The two-point run failed.

Heber Springs quarterback Liam Buffalo looks to get around the edge against Clinton in seventh-grade football action on Thursday in Clinton. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Clinton was moving the ball down the field late in the first half before Lawson Greenwald stepped in front of a Hudson pass and raced 69 yards to give the Panthers a 12-6 lead with eight seconds left. The two-point run failed.

Heber Springs’ Lawson Greenwald celebrates on the sidelines after returning an interception for a touchdown against Clinton on Thursday in seventh-grade action. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

The Yellowjackets knotted things up at 12-all with 14:02 to play in the game on a 30-yard run by Sellers. The two-point run failed.

Clinton still had time to tie the game, but Heber Springs’ Weston Warden’s interception ended the threat and sealed the win.

Heber Springs coach Hunter Davis celebrates after the Panthers recovered a fumble late in the first half in seventh-grade football action on Clinton. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Heber Springs will look improve to 2-0 on the season on Thursday in Searcy when the Panthers tangle with Harding Academy at 5:30 p.m. Clinton will be idle next week after Conway Christian canceled their scheduled contests. The Eagles are not fielding a seventh-grade or junior high teams this season after not having enough players.

Roster: Heber Springs 7th-Grade Football

September 5, 2019

The 2019 Heber Springs Seventh-Grade Football Roster:

  • Adrian Garcia
  • Axley Davis
  • Brady Woodam
  • Braidyn Ogle
  • Bryce Seigrest
  • Caleb Little
  • Carter Julian
  • Crimson Pettigrew
  • Damien Standridge
  • Daniel Townsend
  • Dayton Wall
  • Eli Presnull
  • Gauge Owens
  • Gavin Widner
  • Harper Jones
  • Jacob Golden
  • Jacob McMullin
  • Justin Newton
  • Kaiden Henderson
  • Landon Drew
  • Lawson Greenwald
  • Liam Buffalo
  • Logan Rutledge
  • Samuel Barton
  • Ty West
  • Weston Warden
  • Zachary Maples

Coaches:

  • Drew Lawrence
  • Jay Bishop
  • Hunter Davis