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

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.”

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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Panthers wrap up spring practice, head into summer

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

What a difference one year makes for head coach Todd Wood and the Heber Springs Panther football team.

After surviving the trials of COVID-19 and a 2-9 record during the 2020 season, Wood and the Panthers completed their first spring practice and head into the 2021 season with high hopes.

“We worked out three times a week, and Tuesdays and Thursdays were learning days,” Wood said. “The players remembered what they learned last year, and we tried to build on that. We fine-tuned what we learned. One of our goals was to put players in the right position on offense and defense going into fall practice.”

Wood said the year of experience helped he and his staff to learn more about players’ skill level.

“I made the defensive calls during previous years and needed time to learn in calling the plays for the offense,” he said. “I’m not where I want to be, but farther ahead for next season. The best part is is we have a better idea where each player should be on offense and defense.”

One of the team’s questions going into next season will be developing a new starting quarterback. Matthew Cook, who has graduated, moved into that role beginning with the third game last season.

Sophomore Xander Lindley, junior Wyatt Winchester and senior John McBroome took most of the snaps during spring drills.

“McBroom (who started the first two games last season) is back,” Wood said. “He has been working on improving his footwork and increased his speed, so he can escape out of the pocket and throw on the run. We are working with him to read defenses and where to throw the ball.”

Winchester worked at quarterback last year, but he had limited game action.

“He (Winchester) has the strongest arm of the three players,” Wood said. “He needs to work on his footwork and being more of a mobile quarterback, plus read defenses better.”

Lindley, who was on last year’s junior high school team, has limited experience.

“He has a good arm, very mobile, reads defenses well and throws to the right receiver,” Wood said. “He will get a strong look because of his mobility. We hope to have a starter in place by our preseason scrimmage (at Beebe on Aug. 17).”

Jackson West is the leading candidate to start at running back.

“He was the backup last year,” Wood said. “We like him at receiver with his height and good hands. Parker Brown also has good hands, along with a lot of speed (4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash). Parker also is a possibility at running back, along with Gideon Tate.”

The Panthers also have experience back at receiver with Gus Hannah, Easton Cusick and West. Brown, Austin Winchester and Dalton Yancey also are candidates.

“Gus will be one of our quicker receivers and a primary target,” Wood said. “Easton has worked hard during the offseason to build his body up and increase his speed. Gus and Easton will be our mainstays. Austin had a good spring and is a big target for the underneath passes. I feel good about our receivers.”

Chris Edwards, a projected starter at cornerback, could see action at receiver.

Three starters return on the offensive line — tackle Thad Bray, center Zach Thomas and guard Peyton Owens. Tripp Young is a projected starter at the other guard with the other tackle spot  undetermined.

“We were able to get into the weight room and steadily increased our maximum lifts during the spring,” Wood said. “The players gained weight, and we should be OK on the line.”

Wood said Lucas Langster, who is projected as a starter on the defensive line, and Corbin Jones could play on the offensive line.

Wood liked the defense’s progress and hopes few players will have to go both ways.

“I’m happy with the defense, particularly in the secondary,” he said. “We will have two new linebackers. We will do more fine-tuning going into fall practice.”

Wood said the goal is to have as few players as possible playing on offense and defense fulltime.

“We may go with players who you didn’t see on the field much last year,” he said. “Chris Benton is a big boy and give us more size at nose guard.

Blaze Emerson and Jones also will play with Langster at defensive end. We plan also to rotate guys like Bray, Owens and Young to help with depth.”

Kenan Sneed, last year’s leading tackler, returns at linebacker. Thomas is expected to play at inside linebacker. Hayden Johnson, Hayden Davis, Dakota Farmer, Tate and West are candidates at outside linebacker.

Edwards is the projected starter at one cornerback with the starter undetermined at the other cornerback spot. Gage Buford and Colton Turley are the expected starters at the safeties.

“I liked what I’ve seen in the secondary,” Wood said.

Heber Springs will compete at the Greenbrier 7-on-7 tournament on June 10. The Panthers will be participating in a 7-on-7 event at Carlisle and possibly one more tournament, plus two team camps.

Panthers, Lady Panthers take second at district track meet

The Heber Springs Senior Girls track team pose with the 4A-4 district runner-up trophy. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Heber Springs Lady Panthers and Panthers fell short of their goals at the 4-4A Conference track and field meet, but came away with success.

The Panthers and Lady Panthers were runner-up in their respective divisions with 13 athletes qualifying for the Class 4A state meet in 16 events at Panther Stadium on Wednesday.

Freshman Parker Brown, who received the high-point award at last week’s junior high meet, scored 46 points and won the high-point award at Wednesday’s competition. Brown was the winner of the 100-meter dash, high jump and long jump and finished second in the 200-meter dash and triple jump.

Heber Springs freshman Parker Brown won the high point award the 4A-4 district track meet. Brown had also won the high point award at the 4A-4 junior high district meet on April 21. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

“It was a good day,” Brown said. “I got a personal best in the long jump. Winning the high point again was a surprise.”

Heber Springs head boys’ coach Dale Cresswell said Brown’s performance was not a surprise to him.

“Parker is one of those athletes born with a lot of athletic abilty,” Cresswell said. “I knew he would score points.”

Kevin King was the other Panther who qualified in multi-events. King won the 200-meter dash and finished third in the 100-meter dash and the triple jump.
Nathan Poff claimed third place in the 1600-meter run and qualified for the state meet.

The Panthers scored 154.50 points, 18.50 points behind conference champion Ozark.

“It is always good to have a lot of personal bests and good performances,” Cresswell said. “We did well. The distance races were the main difference. Poff had a personal best in the 1600. We are working to become better in those events.”

Maygan Jarvis and Rylee Birmingham won multi-events for the Lady Panthers. Jarvis topped the field in the pole vault and discus. Birmingham won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.

Jaylea Hooten, runner-up for the girls’ high-point award, won the high jump and finished third in the long jump, and the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.

The Lady Panthers qualified in three relays for the state meet.

Jarvis, Addison Hudspeth, Natalie Buffalo and Cristina Garcia were third in the 800-meter relay. Natalie Buffalo, Jarvis, Garcia and Birmingham finished second in the 1600-meter relay. Riley Bailey, Allison Wildman, Sydney Buffalo and Vallie Cantrell were runner-up in the 3200-meter relay.

The Lady Panthers scored 119 points, 30 points behind conference winner Clarksville.

“I’m proud of the girls,” Heber Springs girls’ coach Hunter Davis said. “All you can from them is to give their best. I was pleased with the second-place finish. We had a lot of personal bests. We had good effort and left all out on the track.”

The state meet will be held at Nashville High School on Tuesday.

The Heber Springs senior boys track team pose with the runner-up trophy from the 4A-A district track meet. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

BOYS
Team totals — 1. Ozark 173; 2. Heber Springs 154.50; 3. Dardanelle 120; 4. Clarksville 104; 5. Pottsville 57; 6. Morrilton 54.50; 7. Subiaco Academy 23.
100-meter dash — 1. Parker Brown 11.72; 3. Kevin King 12:02; 6. Gabe Tate 12.25; 11. Bent McClain 12.91.
200-meter dash — 1. Kevin King 23.78; 2. Parker Brown 23.97; 3. Gabe Tate 25.11; 10. Alex Roy 26.23.
400-meter dash — 4. Gabe Tate 57.00; 15. Landon Leisenring 1:02.17; 16. Logan Cox 1:04.49; 20. Remington Bradley 1:08.74.
800-meter run — 4. Nathan Poff 2:17.62; 9. Thomas Spears 2:27.70; 10. Mason Harris 2:27.97; 14. Noah Cordes 2:37.03.
1600-meter run — 3. Nathan Poff 4:59.0; 8. Mason Harris 5:14.82; 11. Noah Cordes 5:22.92; 13. Reagan Buell 5:46.09.
3200-meter run — 5. Mason Harris 12:13.03; 6. Noah Cordes 12:24.26; 7. Reagan Buell 12:32.57; 9. Kevin Leal 13:14.56.
110-meter hurdles — 8. Evan Burgess 23.60.  
300-meter hurdles — 5. Bent McClain 47.71; 9. Judson Ogle 51.32; 12. Nathan Poff 54.74; 13. Evan Burgess 56.61.
400-meter relay — 5. Heber Springs (Colt Allen, Bent McClain, Landon Leisenring, Preston Roberson) 53.98.
800-meter relay — 6. Heber Springs (Colt Allen, Alex Roy, Bent McClain, Preston Roberson), 1:46.44.
1600-meter relay — 6. Heber Springs (Remington Bradley, Landon Leisenring, Logan Cox, Aaron Combs), 4:26.21.
3200-meter relay — 6. Heber Springs (Jonathan Henriquez, Colton Cole, Caleb Bradley, Jaxson Cox), 9:45.35.
High jump — 1. Parker Brown 6-0; 5. Nathan Poff 5-2; 6. Bent McClain 5-0.
Long jump — 1. Parker Brown 21-5; 5. Kevin King 19-4; 10. Nathan Poff 17-0; 15. Colt Allen 14-8.
Triple jump — 2. Parker Brown 40-8.50; 3. Kevin KIng 38-10; 8. Judson Ogle 32-10.25.
Shot put — 5. Preston Roberson 36-3.75; 8. Allen Colt 33-5; 11. Corbin Jones 31-3,75; 13. Tripp Young 29-9.50.
Discus — 5. Corbin Jones 88-1; 6. Alex Roy 88-0; 8. Tripp Young 85-0; 10. Remington Bradley 80-0.
GIRLS
Team totals — 1. Clarksville 149; 2. Heber Springs 119; 3. Ozark 97; 4. Pottsville 73; 5. Morrilton 59; 6. Dardanelle 56.
100-meter dash — 5. Jaylea Hooten 13.66; 10. Natalie Buffalo 14.47; 19. Lili Chaney 15.62.
200-meter dash — 4. Jaylea Hooten 28.20; 7. Natalie Buffalo 29.39; 8. Cristina Garcia 31.07.
400-meter dash — 6. Maygan Jarvis 1:06.65; 11. Cristina Garcia 1:12.52; 12. Lili Chaney 1:12.98.
800-meter run — 7. Vallie Cantrell 2:58.42; 11. Sydney Buffalo 3:01.36; 15. Riley Bailey 3:15.28; 16. Allison Wildman 3:18.26.
1600-meter run — 5. Vallie Cantrell 6:26.40; 8. Sydney Buffalo 6:40.75; 10. Allison Wildman 6:57.91.
3200-meter run — 4. Vallie Cantrell 14:14.70; 7. Sydney Buffalo 15:25.48; 8. Riley Bailey 15:45.14.
100-meter hurdles — 1. Rylee Birmingham 17.91; 3. Jaylea Hooten 18.48; 8. Samantha Gilley 20.33.
300-meter hurdles — 1. Rylee Birmingham 52.95; 3. Jaylea Hooten 55.66; 5. Samantha Gilley 57.43; 8. Maygan Jarvis 58.89.
400-meter relay — 6. Heber Springs (Ava Noble, Eva Jones, Mia Screeton, Lili Chaney), 1:03.78.
800-meter relay — 3. Heber Springs (Maygan Jarvis, Addison Hudspeth, Natalie Buffalo, Cristina Garcia), 2:00.72.
1600-meter relay — 2. Heber Springs (Natalie Buffalo, Maygan Jarvis, Cristina Garcia, Rylee Birmingham), 4:37.21.
3200-meter relay — 2. Heber Springs (Riley Bailey, Allison Wildman, Sydney Buffalo, Vallie Cantrell), 11:25.58.
High jump — 1. Jaylea Hooten 5-3; 9. Vallie Cantrell 4-4.
Pole vault — 1. Maygan Jarvis 9-4; 4. Ava Noble 8-0; 5. Samantha Gilley 7-6.
Long jump — 3. Jaylea Hooten 15-8; 5. Natalie Buffalo 15-5; 11. Addison Hudspeth 14-10; 15. Cristina Garcia 14-7.
Triple jump — 4. Addison Hudspeth 30-4.50; 15. Allison Wildman 24-2.75; 16. Eva Jones 23-8.50; 17. Sydney Buffalo 23-6.
Shot put — 11. Lili Chaney 21-7.50; 12. Miah Tharp 21-6.50; 16. Ava Little 19-6.50; 17. Lily Hendrix, 17-11.
Discus — 1. Maygan Jarvis 79-3; 5. Ava Little 67-10; 7. Miah Tharp 61-8; 16. Lily Hendrix 49-2.

Panthers season ends in district tourney

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

A season of ups and downs came to a conclusion for the Heber Springs Panther baseball team on Monday.

Ozark capitalized on its opportunities during the second and sixth innings and defeated the Panthers 7-2 in a 4-4A Conference Tournament play-in game at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.

Heber Springs finished the season with a record of 5-14.

“It was a game of momentum swings,” Panther head coach Monterio May said. “We came out a little flat for the first inning. We didn’t capitalize on Ozark’s mistakes like we should and could have scored more runs. The little things made a big difference in the end.”

Jacob Lawsen led off the top of the second inning for Ozark by reaching on an error. Dax Shaffer followed with a single, and Lawsen scored the game’s first run on an infield out. Rylee Griffin walked to load the bases. Tyler Sanders was safe on an error as Shaffer and Griffin scored for the 3-0 lead.

“I told the team during the third inning we needed to chip away at the lead,” May said. “We scored two runs during the fifth and had an opportunity for more runs before a base-running blunder.”

Corbin Jones and Conner Riddle each hit singles to start the bottom of the fifth. Garrett Hudspeth bunted in an attempt to advance the runners and beat the throw to first base to load the bases. Matthew Cook lined a 2-run single into center field. Easton Cusick, running for Hudspeth, was caught in a rundown between second and third bases for the first out.

The Panthers reloaded the bases with walks to Kenan Sneed and Cole Payton. Larsen relieved McAnally and stopped the rally by striking out the next two batters as Ozark clung to a 3-2 lead.

Ozark put the game away by scoring four runs in the top of the sixth inning. The Hillbillies loaded the bases on back-to-back walks and a hit batsman. Jones, who relieved Hudspeth, hit Sanders with a pitch for the first running of the inning, scoring Cook. The final two runs scored on a balk and a 2-run single by Sebastain Ross.

“We gave up too many free passes (six walks),” May said. “We need to learn from this season and plan to be back in the playoffs next year. I’m proud of the team for never giving up.”

The Panthers  will lose two senior starters to graduation — Cook and Hudspeth. May said the team’s future is bright.

“We are losing  good seniors, who were outstanding leaders for the team,” May said. “We have a lot of talent returning and more on the way.”

Ozark 030 004 0–7 5 2
Heber Springs` 000 020 0–2 6 3
Ozark hitters — Kayden McAnally 2 singles; Sebastian Ross single, 2 RBIs; Rylee Griffin single, 1 RBI; Dax Shaffer single; Tyler Sanders 1 RBI.
Ozark pitchers — Kayden McAnally(W) 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 2 strikeouts, 3 walks in 4.1 innings; Jacob Larsen (Save) 1 hit, 0 runs, 4 strikeouts in 2.2 innings.
Heber Springs hitters — Mathew Cook 2 singles, 2 RBIs, 1 stolen base; Corbin Jones 2 singles; Garrett Hudspeth single; Conner Riddle single.
Heber Springs pitchers — Garrett Hudspeth (L) 4 hits, 4 runs, 1 earned run, 4 strikeouts, 5 walks in 5 innings; Corbin Jones 1 hit, 3 earned runs, 1 walk in 2 innings.

Panthers thump Hillbillies in regular season finale

Heber Springs pitcher J.T. Spears delivers a first-inning pitch to an Ozark batter on Friday at Panther Field. The Panthers won the 4A-4 contest 10-1. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs came out swinging and celebrated senior night with one of its best performances of the season at the Heber Springs Sports Complex on Friday.

Kenan Sneed, Garrett Hudspeth and Matthew Cook each hit three singles as the Panthers whipped Ozark 10-1 in a 4-4A Conference baseball game. Sneed led the offense with three RBIs while Hudspeth had two RBIs.

Heber Springs and Ozark will meet again at 4:30 p.m. Monday, also at the Heber Springs Sports Complex, in a play-in game at the conference tournament. The winner will advance to play Clarksville at Dardanelle on Tuesday.

“We played a complete baseball game,” Panther coach Monterio May said. “I was happy to get all of the seniors in the game on senior night. We are starting to put everything together and excited to see what this team will do going forward.”

Heber Springs (4-8 in conference, 5-13 overall) fell from a No. 4 to a No. 6 seed because of a forfeit of an earlier win against Subiaco Academy. The forfeiture occurred because a pitcher exceeded the pitch count limit during that game.

The Panthers had 13 hits, all singles, against three Ozark pitchers.

“We got the bats rolling,” he said. “We quit swinging at bad pitches.”

J.T. Spears limited Ozark to three hits with two strikeouts in six innings. Matthew Cook pitched the seventh inning.

“J.T. competes every day and embodies everything we want to do as a team,” May said. “He brings  intensity and consistency. He usually throws around 70 percent strikes. I told him we need him to throw at least 60 percent to win. He does it with five different pitches.”

Heber Springs scored one run in the first and second innings.

Hudspeth and Cook hit singles to start the bottom of the first inning. Sneed’s fly ball to the outfield allowed Hudspeth to tag and advanced to third base.

Hudspeth scored on a wild pitch for the 1-0 lead.

In the second inning, Corbin Jones reached on an error and Conner Riddle had a single. Jones scored on Hudspeth’s base hit.

After Ozark scored in the top of the fourth, the Panthers responded with three runs during the bottom of the inning and increased their lead.

Hudspeth walked and advanced to third base on Cook’s single. Sneed followed with an RBI base hit, scoring Hudspeth. Cole Payton walked to load the bases. Xander Lindley also walked, bringing in Cook from third base. Sneed scored on an error as the Panthers held a 5-1 lead.

Heber Springs put the game away in the fifth by scoring five runs. Riddle hit a single and later scored on Hudspeth’s base hit. After Cook’s single, Sneed lined a 2-run single into center field. The final two runs came on an error and a fielder’s choice.

May said the win gives momentum to the team for Monday’s game.

“We will be ready to play,” he said.

Ozark 000 100 0- 1 3 3
Heber Springs` 110 350 x- 10 13 2
Ozark hitters — Sebastian Ross single; Dylan Herriage single; Rylee Griffin single; Tyler Sanders 1 stolen base.
Ozark pitchers — Kayden McAnally (L) 7 hits, 5 runs, 3 earned runs, 4 walks in 3.1 innings; Dax Shaffer 3 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks in .2 inning; Dylan Herriage 3 hits, 2 runs, 5 strikeouts in 2 innings.
Heber Springs hitters — Kenan Sneed 3 singles, 3 RBIs; Garrett Hudspeth 3 singles, 2 RBIs, 2 stolen bases; Matthew Cook 3 singles, 1 stolen base; Conner Riddle 2 singles, 1 stolen base; Xander Lindley single, 1 RBI; Corbin Jones single; J.T. Spears 1 RBI; Easton Cusick 1 stolen base.
Heber Springs pitchers — J.T. Spears (W) 3 hits, 1 run, 2 strikeouts, 3 walks in 6 innings; Mathew Cook 0 hits, 0 runs in 1 inning.

Heber Springs rally comes up short against Clarksville

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Clarksville scored five runs during the first two innings and hang on for an 8-5 win against the Heber Springs Panthers in a 4-4A Conference baseball game at the Heber Springs Sports Complex Monday.

The defeat and Tuesday’s 8-7 loss at Dardanelle dropped the Panthers (3-7 in conference, 4-12 overall) to fifth place in the conference standings.

“We let up during the first inning,” Heber Springs coach Monterio May said following the loss to Clarksville. “We picked it up before the end of the inning, but it was too little, too late. We have been trying to instill in the players that the game is not over until it’s over. We need to come out and play with more intensity early in the game.”

Righthander J.T Spears, who was the losing pitcher, allowed seven hits, eight runs and had four strikeouts and one walk in 5.1 innings. Corbin Jones relieved Spears and permitted one hit and struck out one batter in 1.2 inning.

“Spears did what was expected and gave us a chance at winning,” May said. “He is turning into a diamond in the rough and he’s only a sophomore. J.T. throws all of his pitches for strikes, and he has a chance to become an even better pitcher in the future.”

John-Foster Case, Landon Leeds and Dakota Palsey hit RBI singles during the top of the first inning. Leeds scored later on Cole Chrisman’s sacrifice fly.

Heber Springs scored one run in the bottom of the inning.

Garrett Hudspeth was hit by a pitch and moved into scoring position by stealing second base. Hudspeth later scored on an infield out.

After Clarksville scored one run in the top of the second for a 5-1 lead, the Panthers kept close in the bottom of the inning. Xander Lindley reached on an error, Spears hit a single and the runners advanced on a passed ball. Lindley came home on an infield out. Spears scored on Hudspeth’s double and reduced Clarksville lead to 5-3.

Clarksville scored one run in the top of the fifth, but the Panthers matched it during the bottom half of the inning.

Kenan Sneed reached on a fielder’s choice and then he scored on Cole Payton’s RBI triple.

Clarksville added two runs during the sixth inning and increased its lead to 8-4.
Heber Springs’ final run came in the bottom of the seventh on a bases-loaded walk to Lindley.

The Panthers are scheduled to host Bald Knob in a non-conference game at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and play a conference game at Subiaco Academy on Friday.

Clarksville 410 012 0–8 12 2
Heber Springs 120 010 1–5 5  2
Clarksville hitters — Alex Snow 4 singles, 1 stolen base; John-Foster Case single, double, 2 RBIs; Landon Leeds 2 singles, 2 RBIs, 1 stolen base; Easton Burkett single, 1 1 RBI, 1 stolen base; Dakota Pasley single, 1 RBI; Cole Chrisman single, 1 RBI; Gabe Kremers single, 1 stolen base.
Clarksville  pitchers — Dakota Pasley (W) 2 hits, 4 runs, 1 earned run, 3 strikeouts, 3 walks in 4.2 innings; John-Foster Case 2 hits, 1 run, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk in 2.1 innings.
Heber Springs hitters — Garrett Hudspeth single, double, 1 RBI, 1 stolen base; Cole Payton triple, 2 RBIs; J.T. Spears single, 1 RBI; Kenan Sneed single; Xander Lindley 1 RBI; Corbin Jones 1 RBI.
Heber Springs pitchers — J.T Spears (L) 7 hits, 8 runs, 7 earned runs, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk in 5.1 innings; Corbin Jones 1 hit, 1 strikeout in 1.2 inning.
 

Southerners top Panthers in extra innings

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Good pitching kept the Heber Springs Panthers close, but missed opportunities led to a 5-4 non-conference baseball loss in eight innings to Southside Batesville (4-11) at the Heber Springs Sports Complex Thursday.

Heber Springs (3-5 in 4-4A Conference, 4-10 overall) will try and bounce back against conference foe Clarksville (4-4 in conference, 7-7 overall) at 4:30 p.m. Friday at home. The Panthers trail third place Clarksville and fourth place Pottsville (3-4 in conference, 5-7 overall) by one game in the loss column.

Starter Corbin Jones allowed five hits, four runs (two runs earned), struck out four and walked two in seven inning. Cole Payton, the losing pitcher in relief, pitched the eighth inning. Payton limited the Southerners to one hit, yielded one earned run and struck out one batter.

“Corbin pitched a great game, and Cole pitched well,” Heber Springs coach Monterio May said. “Corbin mixed his pitches well and stayed ahead of the batters. We didn’t finish the game as a team. We wanted to win and keep the momentum from Tuesday’s game at Pottsville going into Friday’s game with Clarksville.”

May said one of the game’s determining factors was the Panthers not capitalizing on Southside’s mistakes.

“It’s the little plays over the course of a game that make the difference,” he said. “I remember about three or four times it happened. We are not capitalizing on little mistakes that teams make. We played a good game and swung the bats decent.”

Heber Springs took the lead during the bottom of the second inning. Gage Buford hit a single and later scored from third base on John McBroom’s RBI base hit.

Southside scored three runs on three hits and a Heber Springs fielding error in the top of the third inning for a 3-1 lead. The Southerners held the lead until the sixth inning.

J. T Spears singled and was replaced by courtesy runner Conner Riddle. McBroom followed with a base hit and Jones was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Riddle scored on Zachary Parker’s single and reduced Southside’s lead to 3-2.

Easton Cusick, who was a courtesy runner for McBroom, was tagged out on the same sequence at the plate.

The Panthers tied the game when Xander Lindley, a courtesy runner for Jones, scored from third base on a passed ball.  Heber Springs took the 4-3 lead when Parker scored on Kenan Sneed’s sacrifice fly to the outfield.

Southside tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the seventh. The Southerners scored the winning run on a Heber Springs fielding error in the eighth.

May said Garrett Hudspeth and Spears have their rest and will be available to pitch against Clarksville on Friday.

“Our pitching is set and both are ready to go,” May said. “We want to go as high in the conference standings as we can and get a good seed for the playoffs. We are starting to play our best baseball and want to be in the top four for the conference tournament.”

Southside 003 000 11–5 3 3
Heber Springs 010 003 00–4 8 4
Southside Batesville hitters — Bo Trucks 2 singles, 1 RBI; Tyson Trucks single, 1 RBI; Blayne Bufford single, 2 stolen bases; Kaelan Duncan single, 1 stolen base; Carson McGhee single, 1 stolen base; Landen Haas 1 stolen base; Kyle Long 1 stolen base.
Southside  pitchers — Kaelan Duncan 5 hits 1 run, 1 strikeout in 5 innings; Bryson Duncan 2 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 walk in .1 inning; Blayne Bufford (W) 0 hits, 0 runs, 2 strikeouts, 1 walk in 2.2 innings.
Heber Springs hitters — Matthew Cook single, double, 1 stolen base; John McBroome 2 singles, 1 RBI; Kenan Sneed single, 1 RBI; Zachary Parker single, 1 RBI; Cole Payton single; Gage Buford single; Garrett Hudspeth 1 stolen base.
Heber Springs pitchers –Corbin Jones 5 hits, 4 runs, 2 earned runs, 4 strikeouts, 2 walks in 7 innings; Cole Payton (L 0-1) 1 hit, 1 earned run, 1 strikeout in 1 inning.

Panthers fall to Bulldogs in nonconference action

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Monday’s nonconference baseball match with Conway St. Joseph turned into one of those kind of days that the Heber Springs Panthers will try and forget quickly.

Playing for the first time in 10 days, the Panthers resumed the schedule and lost to St. Joseph 15-1 at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.

The game ended on the 10-run rule after five innings.

“It turned into one of those days when the wheels completely fell off,” Heber Springs coach Monterio May said. “We practiced for the past four days, but we have a lot of rust to get rid of.”

St. Joseph scored one run during the first inning and two more runs in the second. The Bulldogs broke the game open  by scoring 11 runs during the third and added one run in the fifth.

The Panthers avoided a shutout in the bottom of the fifth.

Cole Payton was hit by a pitch and Conner Riddle walked.  St. Joseph turned a double play as Payton reached third base. Kenan Sneed followed with an RBI single, scoring Payton from third base.

The Panthers (2-3 in 4-4A Conference, 3-5 overall) were scheduled to play at Ozark on Tuesday and at Morrilton on Thursday. Heber Springs will play Woodlawn and Rose Bud at Rose Bud on Saturday.

St. Joseph 13(11) 01–15 9 2
Heber Springs 000 01–1  4 4
St. Joseph hitters — Nicholas French single, double, 2 RBIs; Collin Coney 2 singles; Luke Pope single, 3 RBIs; Max Longing single, 2 RBIs; Caleb Mallett single, 1 RBI; Jared Sanders single, 1 RBI; Gabriel Stobaugh single; Luke Brigger 1 RBI; Cole Garner 1 RBI.
St. Joseph pitchers — Cole Garner (W) 4 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts in 5 innings.
Heber Springs hitters — Kenan Sneed 2 singles, 1 RBI; Matthew Cook single; Garrett Hudspeth single.
Heber Springs pitchers — Xander Lindley (L, 0-2) 6 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts in 2 innings; Mathew Cook 1 hit, 3 earned runs, 2 walks in 0 innings; Gage Buford 2 hits, 5 runs, 4 earned runs, 2 walks in .1 inning; Corbin Jones 0 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout in 2.2 innings.