HSHS All-Decade: 1990s

The 1990s era of Heber Springs football saw the Panthers come close to several playoff berths and claim two spots as the number of playoff teams was expanded to four teams in the decade.

The first Panther team of the decade lost its opener to Harding Academy but won three straight with nonconference wins over Dover and Dardanelle, and a conference-opening win over Yellville-Summit. A loss to Mountain View was the first conference blemish, but the Panthers improved to 4-2 with a victory over Bald Knob. A nonconference loss to Pulaski Academy and conference losses to Vilonia and Greenbrier, left the Panthers playing for pride in week 10, a 31-0 victory over Clinton to finish at 5-5 on the year.

The 1991 season saw Heber Springs shifted away from conference foes that had dominated the schedule for more than 15 years as the Panthers were placed in the 5AA with England, Vilonia, Beebe, Bald Knob, DeWitt, Lonoke and Brinkley. Heber Springs started the season with a narrow setback to Clinton, 22-20, but the Panthers would struggle the rest of the way, finishing at 0-10 (the first winless campaign in school history).

John Richardson switched to classroom duties for the 1992 season and assistant coach Brad Reese was promoted to the top position. His first team won back-to-back games against Mountain View and England, but finished the season 2-8.

The 1993 squad would be placed in the 4AA-East conference along with Perryville, Yellville-Summit, Greenbrier, Mountain View, Clinton, Dover and Atkins. Heber Springs would garner wins over Perryville and Mountain View.

The Panthers rebounded in 1994. Heber Springs started the season 0-3 with close losses to Batesville and Harding Academy, before opening 4AA-East play. The Panthers would win five straight to put themselves in a good position to earn one of the two playoff spots for the conference. But Heber Springs was upset in week 9 at Dover, forcing a must-win game in week 10 at Atkins. The two teams battled but the Red Devils claimed a 6-0 win and a share of the conference title (along with Greenbrier, whose only conference was to the Panthers on Oct. 7).

With the playoffs expanded to four teams from each conference, the 1995 Panthers started the season by winning four straight. After a dropping a pair of 4AA-East contests, Heber Springs got back into playoff contention with wins over Mountain View and Clinton, but losses to Dover in week 9 and Atkins in week 10 left the Panthers in fifth place, but with a winning record at 6-4.

The 1996 Panthers again saw a conference change as Beebe, Dover, Clinton, Mountain View, Bald Knob, Yellville-Summit and Vilonia joined Heber Springs in the 5AA-North. Heber Springs would claim a nonconference win over Greenbrier but would again finish one-game short of a playoff berth with a fifth-place finish in conference play and a 4-6 overall record.

Heber Springs would get over the playoff hump in 1997, earning the schools first playoff berth in 14 seasons. The Panthers opened with wins over Atkins and Greenbrier before dropping a close contest at Highland. In the conference opener, Beebe would pull away late from the Panthers before Heber Springs would score 30 or more points in wins over Dover, Clinton and Mountain View. The Panthers would close out the season with three straight losses and in a three-way with Bald Knob and Clinton for the four-seed. Heber Springs got in based upon a conference tiebreaker and traveled to Ozark, where the Panthers season would end a cold night in Franklin County and a 5-6 record.

With Reese taking a position at Huntsville, former Greenbrier coach Bill Buckner would lead the Panthers for the 1998 campaign. The Panthers would finish the season with two nonconference wins over Greenbrier and Mountainburg, and two conference wins in the new 2AAA conference (Yellville-Summit, Mountain View, Pocahontas, Highland, Bald Knob and Clinton).

The 1999 Panthers would open the season with four-straight losses before dropping Mountain View on the road and winning at home against Pocahontas. After a loss at Highland, Heber Springs would down Mountainburg (in nonconference play), Bald Knob (43-20) and Clinton (57-18) to finish second in the 2AAA and earn the school’s first home playoff game in 20 years. Warren would handle the Panthers in the first round as Heber Springs closed the decade with a 5-6 record.

The 1990s HSHS All-Decade Football Team

(Position, Player and Last Season Played)

OFFENSE

WR – Wesley Smith (1997)

WR – Brad Sneed (1998)

OL – Scott Anderson (1998)

OL – Justin Burlison (1999)

OL – Kory Smith (1993)

OL – Guy Storm (1997)

OL – Stephen Talley (1999)

QB – Chris Lee (1994)

RB – Justin Davidson (1998)

RB – Stacy Poff (1990)

RB – Eric Smith (1993)

AP – Nat Baureis (1995)

AP – Mark Cresswell (1996)

AP – Josh Foster (1999)

AP – Jacob McCormick (1999)

DEFENSE

DL – Barry Brown (1992)

DL – David Butler (1999)

DL – Cliff Derrickson (1997)

DL – Burke Toliver (1995)

DL – Tray Wilson (1994)

LB – Tony Baldwin (1997)

LB/P – Brock Bertrand (1996)

LB – Nathan James (1998)

DB – Billy Baser (1997)

DB/K – Nick James (1998)

DB –Zeke Wilson (1998)

AP – Gil Blevins (1990)

AP – Scott Cresswell (1994)

AP – Randal Hindsley (1991)

AP – Jem Johnson (1990)

PREVIOUS DECADES

The 1980s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1970s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1960s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1950s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1940s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1930s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1910s/20s HSHS All-Decade Team

Panther Notebook: It was a record night, maybe

Heber Springs assistant coach Hunter Davis reacts to play on the sidelines during the Panthers 44-0 victory over Dover Friday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

In the run-up to the 2021 and 100th Heber Springs high school football season, I had hoped to have the comprehensive record book (top 100 for games, seasons and careers) that I have been working on ready for the season-opener.

The record book, when completed, will rival most college record books (you know those you open and see in the media guides distributed by most college programs). In order to be as accurate and concise as possible, the write-ups published in the local newspaper(s) over the years left a lot gaps that needed to be filled in. Box scores for the games were non-existent until the 1975 season but remained published fairly regularly until the late 1980s. The box scores would appear again in the late 90s and early 2000s, but then fade away. So needless to say, there were some gaps. Newspaper accounts from the opposing were a good source to fill in those gaps, but Covid prevented me from being able to research those until this summer, so that put me behind.

All of that was said, because it was night’s like last Friday for the Panthers, a 44-0 victory at Dover, that I truly lament not having it finished (though I am about 60 years done). When the dust settles and the record book is completed, don’t be surprised to see some of Friday’s numbers be near or at the top of the single game record book.

WOE IS ME: Dover’s losing streak was extended to 23 games. Former Heber Springs coach Will Cox is in his second season at the Pope County school, and judging by the improvement shown by both the 7th-grade and junior high teams over last season, things are getting better for the Pirate program.

SOMETHING ABOUT JACK BERRY STADIUM: Sophomore Parker Brown had a career night receiving catching three passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns. His touchdown receptions were 51-, 76- and 93-yards. Going back to junior high, Brown caught two passes for 99 yards and a 71-yard touchdown last season. In two games in the stadium, Brown has five receptions for 319 yards and four touchdowns.

STICKING WITH PARKER: The 220 receiving yards are the most by Panther since Pierce Mitchum had 203 yards receiving against Southside Batesville on Oct. 23, 2015 and his three touchdown receptions put him near the top of the most touchdown receptions in one game. The last time that happened was when Mitchum had three touchdown grabs against Baptist Prep on Oct. 14, 2016. Dating back to last season, when Brown played in the final two games as a freshman, he now has scored five touchdowns in four games. His 93-yard reception from Xander Lindley will also be in the top five when the smoke settles on the record book, though it won’t top the 99-yard pass play from Adam Martin to Tri Johnson at Harding Academy in 2018.

RARE COMPANY: Brown wasn’t the only one joining rare company Friday, sophomore Xander Lindley, in only his second career start, joined the 300-yard passer club with a 12 of 18 for 318 yards and four-touchdown performance. The total number of 300-yard passers in school history is not many, and Matthew Cook was the last to do it last season.

FORMER PIRATE: Zane Lozeau transferred from Dover to Heber Springs in the offseason and had a big night against his former teammates. Lozeau had five tackles — one for a loss, a fumble recovery and scored on a 20-yard touchdown run in the second half.

BROKE THAT INT STREAK: It had been 12 games since the Panthers had intercepted an opponents pass attempt, but that streak ended in the first quarter when Chris Edwards picked-off a Jon Greathouse pass attempt and raced 71 yards for a score. The Panthers last interception came at Shiloh Christian on Nov. 21, 2019, when Hunter Kent picked off a Saints pass attempt.

WHO SAYS YOU NEED TO RUN THE FOOTBALL TO WIN: The Panthers rushed the ball nine times for 45 and a touchdown Friday. The nine rush attempts is the fewest by Panther squad since rushing eight times against Baptist Prep on Oct. 14, 2016.

RUSH DEFENSE: The Panther defense held the Pirates to minus 30 yards rushing on 30 attempts. It is the fewest rushing yards allowed in a game since 2011 when Heber Springs limited Bald Knob to minus 31 yards rushing.

OKAY THIS PROBABLY WILL BE A RECORD: The 15 combined rushing yards from both teams on Friday probably will be a record. One can’t imagine fewer yards rushing in a game, and right now, the closest combined fewest rushing yards in game is 116, so odds are that will probably stick as a record.

SHUTOUTS: With the shutout win, it was the first time since Oct. 19, 2018 (a 21-0 victory at Southside Batesville), that the defense has not allowed an opponent to score. It was also only the third time in the past 12 seasons the defense has shutout an opponent. The Panthers defeated Marianna-Lee, 54-0, on Oct. 5, 2012. All of these shutouts have occurred on the road. The last home shutout for the Panthers was a 54-0 win over Southside Batesville on Oct. 23, 2009.

MARGIN OF VICTORY: The 44-point margin of victory was the first time the Panthers have won a game by more than 40 points since defeating Marianna-Lee, 54-0, on Oct. 5, 2012.

WATCH OUT JULIAN: Julian Cameron holds both the state and school record for most consecutive extra-point kicks made without a miss at 100. Could Gideon Tate be on his way? Did we just jinx him? The sophomore is a perfect six-of-six on the season so far.

NO RECORDS, BUT: Junior Easton Cusick, who is also the back-up quarterback this season, caught five passes for 44 yards on one drive in the second half. No records are kept on the most receptions in a drive, but if they were, that might be the most.

UP NEXT: Heber Springs hosts Lonoke in the 2-4A conference opener Friday night at Panther Stadium. The Jackrabbits have won the past two meetings between the schools.

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

Junior Panthers take care of Dover

Heber Springs’ Seth Dudeck attempts to avoid a Dover defender Thursday night at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Heber Springs’ Weston Warden finished with 126 all-purpose yards and a pair of touchdowns as the junior Panthers wrapped up nonconference play with a 26-12 victory over Dover Thursday night at Panther Stadium.

Ninth-grader Liam Buffalo rushed nine times for 102 yards and a 43-yard touchdown that opened the scoring with 5:24 to play in the first half.

Buffalo’s run came after the Panther defense forced a three-and-out on Dover’s first possession.

On the Pirates second possession, Dover picked up a pair of first downs and reached the Panther 43, but a Buffalo recovered a Pirate fumble at the 50-yard line.

Heber Springs was flagged eight times for 52 yards on the night, including three on the Panthers next drive that stalled on their own 46.

Dover pushed the ball out to midfield, but Heber Springs’ defense stiffened forcing a punt attempt, but a high snap sailed over the punters head and Jacob McMullin recovered the loose football at the Dover 26.

Four plays later, Buffalo connected with Carter Julian for a 4-yard touchdown and a 2-point conversion with 3:13 left in the half.

Dover responded with a seven-play, 55-yard drive to get on the board with 37.5 seconds left in the half.

Heber Springs came out of the half and scored on a 12-play, 69-yard drive that Warden capped off with a 2-yard touchdown reception from Buffalo to make it 20-6 with 4:20 left in the third quarter.

The score would remain that way until late in the contest when Warden picked off a Talvin Leavell pass attempt and raced 83 yards for a score with just under a minute to play.

On the ensuing kickoff, Masters would race 85-yards to set the final score at 26-12.

Heber Springs will open conference play next week at Lonoke.

DOVER AT HEBER SPRINGS
SEPTEMBER 16, 2021 
Dover           0   6   0   6 - 12 
Heber Springs   6   8   6   6 - 26 
FIRST QUARTER 
HS - Liam Buffalo 43-yard run (pass failed), 5:24 
SECOND QUARTER 
HS - Buffalo to Carter Julian 4-yard pass (Buffalo to Julian), 3:13
D - Drew Masters 2-yard run (run failed), 37.5
THIRD QUARTER 
HS - Buffalo to Weston Warden 14-yard pass (pass failed), 4:20
FOURTH QUARTER 
HS - Warden 83-yard interception return (pass failed), 57.6
D - Masters 85-yard kickoff return (run failed), 43.8
TEAM STATISTICS 
FIRST DOWNS: HS 9, D 13
RUSHES-YARDS: HS 14/108, D 33/116
PASSING YARDS: HS 72, D 31
COMP-ATT-INT: HS 9-16-0, D 4-8-1
FUMBLES: HS 1, D 2
PENALITIES-YARDS: HS 8-52, D 5-40
PUNTS-AVERAGE: HS 2-14.5, D 1-19
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS 
RUSHING: HS, Liam Buffalo 9/102, Weston Warden 4/20, Team 1/(-4). Dover, Drew Masters 21/86, Talvin Leavell 7/29, Ty George 3/36, Timmy Callans 1/(-7), Team 1/(-28)
PASSING: HS, Buffalo 9/16-72-2/0. D, Talvin Leavell 4/8-31-0/1
RECEVING: HS, Carter Julian 3/16, Warden 2/21, Seth Dudeck 2/15, Jackson Rutledge 2/20 
KICKOFF RETURNS: D, Masters 1/85, George 2/29, Chayner Owen 1/3 
PUNT RETURNS: None
INT RETURNS: HS, Warden 1/85
FUMBLE RETURNS: D, Team 1/8
PUNTS: HS, Buffalo 1/29, Team 1/0. D, Leavell 1/19

HEBER SPRINGS JUNIOR HIGH SCHEDULE

(All Games Start at 7 p.m.)

Aug. 26 – Heber Springs 32, Clinton 28

Sep. 09 – Harding Academy 36, Heber Springs 16

Sep. 16 – Heber Springs 26, Dover 12

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)

PHOTO: Heber Springs Junior High Action

Heber Springs’ Carter Julian turns up field after catching a Liam Buffalo pass during the Junior Panthers 26-12 win over Dover Thursday night at Panther Stadium. Julian caught three passes, including one for a touchdown, as Heber Springs improved to 2-1 on the season. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Panther Cubs sink Pirates

Heber Springs’ Rhett Herring looks for running against Dover Thursday night at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

The Heber Springs 7th-Grade Panthers claimed their first win of the season with a 16-6 victory over Dover Thursday night at Panther Stadium.

Heber Springs (1-1) started the scoring with a 22-yard touchdown run by Tanner Graham with 15:06 to play in the first half. Lachlan Tubbs connected with Rhett Herring for the 2-point conversion. The scoring drive was set-up by a 30-yard interception return by Herring.

The Panthers tacked on another score almost seven minutes later when Samuel Bush scored on a 34-yard run with 8:24 left in the first half. Tubbs against connected with Herring for the 2-point conversion to make it 16-0.

The score would remain that way until late in the contest when Dover’s Matthew Krantz scored on a 54-yard touchdown run with 6:34 to play. The 2-point conversion was no good.

HEBER SPRINGS 7TH-GRADE SCHEDULE

(All Game Times are 5:30 p.m.)

Aug. 26 – Clinton 16, Heber Springs 14

Sep. 09 – at Harding Academy (Canceled)

Sep. 16 – Heber Springs 16, Dover 6

Sep. 23 – at Lonoke

Sep. 30 – Stuttgart

Oct. 07 – at Central Arkansas Christian

Oct. 14 – Bald Knob

Oct. 21 – at Southside Batesville

Oct. 28 – at Clinton

Panthers break nonconference streak

Heber Springs’ Jackson West (23) and Kenan Sneed (15) bring down Dover quarterback Kaleb Williams Friday night at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

BY LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs followed a formula of good execution with no turnovers and opened the door for success.

The Panthers doubled the total offense of the first two games and committed no turnovers in a 42-6 win against Dover at Panther Stadium on Friday and in the process ended an eight game, regular season nonconference losing streak.

Heber Springs (1-2) completed the nonconference schedule and will switch its focus to the 2-4A Conference opener at Lonoke next weekend.

“Good execution has been our goal every game,” Panther head coach Todd Wood said. “We can be a good team when putting things together. We wanted to play a complete game and answered the call. Sometimes when a team is 0-2, it will shut down, but we didn’t do that against Dover.”

Heber Springs gained 444 yards — 134 rushing and 310 passing — and converted 7-of-8 third-down plays.

“We have not done anything on first drives in the first two games and that was important to start this game,” Wood said. “It was a big relief for the team when we did that. We also learned what can happen when you hang onto the ball.”

Wood decided early last week to give senior Matthew Cook his first start at quarterback. Cook had been the backup for the first two games. He completed 16-of-22 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns against the Pirates.

Heber Springs senior quarterback Matthew Cook passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

“I challenged Matthew,” Wood said. “We put him in there and proud of his efforts. He gave our offense a different look.”

Cook admitted a case of the nerves in the beginning, but but he said it went away quickly.

“I never started at quarterback before, but I knew I was ready after a good week of practice,” Cook said. “All of the credit goes to my offensive line and the receivers.”

Six Heber Springs receivers caught passes (Hunter Kent 6-44, Nathan McKee 5-80, Diego Rubio 3-66, Isaac Smith 3-29, Easton Cusick 2-79 and Kenan Sneed 1-12).

“It was nice to spread the ball around and not just throw to one or two players,” Wood said. “We want to spread the joy around and be balanced. We wanted to make the defense defend the entire field.”

Cook said the short-range passing game helped him to be more comfortable and sent the offense in motion.

“Scoring on the first drive showed what we can do when we stick together,” he said. “I was looking to throw to all of my receivers.”

Wood also said he was pleased with the play of the defense.

“We played more aggressive on,” he said. “We started the game too flat, and I challenged them to become hitters and take it to Dover.”

Heber Springs sophomore Isaac King attempts to fight off the tackle attempt of Dover’s Tristen Reynolds. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Heber Springs took the lead with an 11-play, 90-yard drive for its first touchdown. The Panthers overcame two holding penalties as Kent scored on a 14-yard run with 4:37 left in the first quarter.

A fourth-down stop set up another touchdown before the end of the quarter.  Isaac King caught a 10-yard scoring pass and Cook ran for a 2-point conversion, increasing the Panthers’ lead to 14-0 going into the second quarter.

Heber Springs struck again as Cook scored on a 2-yard carry with 6:27 left in the first half. Cook’s touchdown capped a 5-play, 80-yard drive. Chandler Webber kicked the conversion for a 21-0 lead.

The Panthers finished the second quarter with a 10-play, 78-yard touchdown drive. Diego Rubio caught a 36-yard scoring pass from Cook as Heber Springs led 27-0 at halftime.

“It was better atmosphere at halftime than the first two games,” Wood said. “I told them the game was not over. We didn’t want to be satisfied by playing only well only in the first half.”

Heber Springs sent the sportsmanship rule into motion by scoring on a 4-play, 64-yard drive following the second half kickoff. McKee caught a 17-yard touchdown pass with 10:46 remaining in the third quarter. Kent ran for a 2-point conversion.

Rubio’s 19-yard scoring run provided the Panthers’ fourth-quarter touchdown.

Dover avoided a shutout when Kenny Ketcherside scored on a 37-yard run with 3:41 to play.

Due to COVID restrictions, only 100 fans from Heber Springs will be allowed to attend. Those wanting to attend the game in Lonoke must pick up a voucher at the school and then pay at the gate in Lonoke.

Heber Springs senior Hunter Kent attempts to outrun a pair of Dover defenders, Jon Greathouse (14) and Dawson Branch (1), Friday night at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

STATS

SCORING  
Dover (0-4)           0   0  0  6 -  6
Heber Springs (1-2)  14  13  8  7 - 42
FIRST QUARTER  
Heber Springs, Hunter Kent 14-yard run (pass failed), 4:37
Heber Springs, Matthew Cook to Isaac King 10-yard pass (Cook run), 7.4 
SECOND QUARTER  
Heber Springs, Cook 2-yard run (Chandler Webber kick), 6:27
Heber Springs, Cook to Diego Rubio 36-yard pass (kick blocked), 50.9
THIRD QUARTER  
Heber Springs - Cook to Nathan McKee 17-yard pass (Kent run), 10:46
FOURTH QUARTER
Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 19-yard run (Webber kick), 11:40
Dover, Kenny Ketcherside 37-yard run (run failed), 3:45

TEAM STATS  
First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 6, Dover 5 
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 10, Dover 0 
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 0, Dover 0
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 16, Dover 5 
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 7/8, Dover 4/8
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 1/1, Dover 0/1
Red-Zone Conversions: Heber Springs 5/5, Dover 0/0 
Time of Possession: Heber Springs 23:57, Dover 24:03 
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 0/0, Dover 1/0 
Turnovers: Heber Springs 0, Dover 0      
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 0, Dover 0  
Penalties: Heber Springs 7/70, Dover 5/55  
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 44/444/10.1, Dover 29/110/3.8
Rushing: Heber Springs 22/134/6.1, Dover 25/113/4.5
Passing: Heber Springs 16/22-310-3/0, Dover 2/4-(-3)-0/0
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 0/0, Dover 0/0 
Punts: Heber Springs 0/0, Dover 4/171/42.8 
Inside 20: Heber Springs 0, Dover 2

INDIVIDUAL STATS  
OFFENSE    
RUSHING: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 9/42/4.7, Hunter Kent 3/32/10.7,  Matthew Cook 5/23, Nathan McKee 2/19, Jackson West 2/15, Isaac King 1/3. Dover, Kaleb Williams 15/55/3.7, Kenny Ketcherside 5/45/9, Dawson Branch 5/13.  
RUSHING RUNS OF 30+: Dover, Kenny Ketcherside (1)
RUSHING RUNS OF 20+: Dover, Kaleb Williams (1)
RUSHING RUNS OF 10+: Heber Springs, Hunter Kent (2), Diego Rubio (1) 
PASSING: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 16/22-310-3/0. Dover, Kaleb Williams 2/4-(-3)-0/0
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 5/80, Diego Rubio 3/66, Isaac King 3/29, Easton Cusick 2/79, Hunter Kent 2/44, Kenan Sneed 1/12. Dover, Dawson Branch 2/(-3)  
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 333, Diego Rubio 42, Hunter Kent 32, Nathan McKee 19, Jackson West 15, Isaac King 3. Dover, Kaleb Williams 52, Kenny Ketcherside 45, Dawson Branch 10.
PUNT RETURNS: Heber Springs, Hunter Kent 2/35.   
KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Hunter Kent 1/40, Easton Cusick 1/0. Dover, Jon Greathouse 4/27, Brantley Craig 1/12, Jeremiah Mercer 1/7, Kaleb Williams 1/7  
FUMBLE RETURNS: None  
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: None
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Hunter Kent 151, Diego Rubio 108, Nathan McKee 99, Easton Cusick 79, Isaac King 32, Matthew Cook 23, Jackson West 15, Kenan Sneed 12. Dover, Kaleb Williams 62, Kenny Ketcherside 45, Jon Greathouse 27, Brantley Craig 12, Dawson Branch 10, Jeremiah Mercer 7.  
SCORING: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 12, Matthew Cook 8, Hunter Kent 8, Nathan McKee 6, Isaac King 6, Chandler Webber 2 (2/3 XP/XPA). Dover, Kenny Ketcherside 6
DEFENSE   
PUNTS/YARDS/AVERAGE/INSIDE THE 20: Heber Springs, None. Dover, Kaleb Williams 4/171/42.8/2

Pirates, Cox return to Panther Stadium

Heber Springs senior running back Diego Rubio gets a block from teammate Hunter Kent(1) in last week’s loss at Harding Academy. Also picture, Harding Academy’s Cooper Welch (45). PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

BY LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

It’s not a one-game football season, but Friday’s nonconference finale may set the tone going into conference play.

Heber Springs hopes to take a step forward and build momentum for the 2-4A Conference opener with a win against Dover at Panther Field. Kickoff is scheduled at 7 p.m.

The Panthers (0-2) played two of the top ranked Class 3A teams in the first two games — No. 1 Harding Academy and No. 4 Newport.

Dover (0-3) lost its first three games by a combined score of 126-22 to Hector, Atkins and Salem.

“We will be looking for growth against Dover,” Heber Springs head coach Todd Wood said. “We want to settle into the way we want to play on offense and defense during the conference games. We want a win and also show improvement in all areas.”

Dover head coach Will Cox said it was mixed emotions coming back to Panther Stadium. Cox coached the last two years at Heber Springs and was the interim head coach last season.

“Three coaches I worked with closely are still on staff,” Cox said. “I was very close to coach (Drew) Lawrence, (E.G.) Dew and (Hunter) Davis. It will be different being on the other side of the field. But it’s going to be exciting to be back in Heber.”

Cox said emphasis is on the game against the Panthers.

“Our focus will be on ourselves and  building the Dover program in the right way,” he said. “It probably helped with preparation because I coached some of Heber’s players in the past. Those guys can make plays. I’ve got a lot of respect for all of those guys and know what they are capable of doing.”

Heber Springs is averaging 150 yards of offense and four turnovers through two games. Wood plans more personnel changes for Friday’s game, in an attempt fore more production.

“We must have better execution,” Wood said. “We have not had it for an entire game yet. You can’t give up the ball as many times we did in the last two games (eight turnovers) and win.”

Wood noticed more positives in practice and hope it carries over to the game.

“We had good practices,” he said. “We are continuing to learn and trying to figure everything out. It was a positive week.”

Heber Springs senior Matthew Cook at quarterback last week against Harding Academy. Cook is expected to start at quarterback tonight against Dover. Also pictured for Heber Springs is Tristan Thissen (56) blocking a Wildcat defender. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Wood said Matthew Cook, who was the backup for the first two games, will start at quarterback. Sophomore Conner Riddle, who completed 6-of-7 passes for 47 yards against Harding Academy in the second half, also is expected to play.

“Conner played well, but he still has a long way to go,” Wood said. “He is still learning the offense.”

Sophomore Isaac King, who started at safety, played receiver in the second half and may play a bigger role against Dover.

“Isaac stepped in for Nathan McKee at safety and also caught passes (6-47),” Wood said. “He will probably start again at safety and at receiver.”  

Wood said changes are planned for the  offensive and defensive line.

“We don’t have much depth and the injuries are affecting us,” he said. “(Preston) Roberson will probably not play because of a bad back for the second straight week.”

The injury list increased with the loss of Gus Hannah, and Wood said Chris Smith is questionable on the line. Payton Owens is expected to play against Dover, along with the return of McKee.

Dover will depend on Dawson Branch and Brantley Craig from its version of a winged offense. Craig is expected to start at quarterback. The Pirates also will utilize the talents of Jon Greathouse.

“It has been a juggling act,” Cox said when asked about Dover’s offense. “Dawson and Branley have played quarterback. Branley is a dynamic player with speed and settling into the offense.”

Cox said one of the keys to the game will be the play of Dover’s defense.

“We need to tackle well and create turnovers,” he said. “We need to do what is necessary to pick up a win.”

Wood said the Panthers played balanced offenses in the first two games, but Dover will be a different challenge with emphasis on the running game.

“Dover established its running game,” Wood said. “We must do a better job of going to the ball and play more aggressive on defense.”

NOTEBOOK

RADIO/VIDEO STREAMING: 101.9 The Lake. Billy Morgan will handle play-by-play with Lance Hamilton providing the color commentary. Pregame begins at 6:45 with kickoff at 7 p.m. 

Heber Springs vs. Dover 
The Series 
Dover leads 6-3
LAST MEETING: 1997 in Heber Springs, Heber Springs 32, Dover 7
LAST WEEK: Heber Springs lost to Harding Academy, 45-6; Dover lost to Salem, 46-0
TONIGHT: This will be the 10th 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. 
HIATUS: Tonight's game is the final nonconference contest for the Panthers and Pirates. Newport and Dover replaced Greenbrier and Clinton (now in the same conference). Heber Springs has lost to Newport (45-6) and Harding Academy (45-6) while Dover has lost to Hector, 30-8 in week 0; Atkins, 48-14, in week 1; and Salem, 46-0 in week 2. Dover is idle next week after conference-foe Subiaco Academy opted to play 8-man football this season giving the Pirates the opportunity to play four nonconference games.  
NONCONFERENCE WOES: Heber Springs has lost eight consecutive regular-season nonconference games. The Panthers last regular season nonconference win came on Sept. 15, 2017, at Panther Stadium against Harding Academy, 35-14. 
LOSING STREAK: Dover has lost 13 consecutive games. The Pirates last win came on Nov. 1, 2018 with a 46-42 victory over Waldron.  

-- Notes by Philip Seaton

Junior Panthers sink Pirates

Heber Springs’ Parker Brown brings down Dover’s Draxton Mediano. Heber Springs held Dover to minus 8 yards in the first half. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By PHILIP SEATON

Heber Springs finished with more than 400 yards of total offense and held Dover to negative yards in the first half in a 30-8 road victory.

Liam Buffalo was 14 of 21 passing for 291 yards and two touchdowns with Parker Brown catching two of Buffalo’s passes for 99 yards and a score and Dalton Yancey catching three balls for 91 yards and a score for the Panthers.

While the offense was efficient, it was the defense that kept the Pirates at bay, especially in the first half where Dover recorded zero first downs on one of five passing for minus seven yard and for a one-yard loss on nine rushing attempts.

Dover avoided the shutout with a 3-yard touchdown run by Draxton Mediano 31 seconds left in the contest.

“We started playing real sloppy in the second half,” Heber Springs coach James Ortiz said. “Wish we could have left the goose egg up there, but we tried to get some more guys out there and for some others to get some reaps. 

“Overall the defense was great. We came out with confidence and excitement, and played great.”

The Panthers got on the board with 3:31 left in the first quarter when Dalton Yancey scored his first-ever touchdown with a 3-yard run. Buffalo connected with Yancey for the 2-point conversion.

Heber Springs’ Gideon Tate. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

After holding Dover to a three-and-out, Heber Springs marched 81 yards on seven plays. Buffalo found Weston Warden for a 12-yard pass completion on first down from the Panther 19. On third down from the Panther 35, Warden ran for 17 yards followed by an 18-yard pass completion to Yancey and a 28-yard strike to Brown to put the ball on the Dover 2. From there, Brown carried the ball over to make it 16-0 with 7:09 left in the half after the 2-point conversion pass from Buffalo to Brown.

The Panthers went up 23-0 with 4:08 left in the quarter after Buffalo connected with Yancey on a 70-yard pass play. Gideon Tate kicked the PAT.

Heber Springs threatened to score again right before the half before the clocked ended the drive at the Dover 14.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Panthers added another score when Buffalo connected with Brown for a 71-yard touchdown. Tate kicked the extra point to make it 30-0 with 5:52 left.

“Our offense was spectacular,” Ortiz said. “We got bogged once or twice, but those are very fixable problems.”

Yancey finished with 135 all-purpose yards for the Panthers while Brown had 125 all-purpose yards and added a sack on defense.

Heber Springs will host Lonoke at 7 p.m. Thursday in the 2-4A conference opener.

“We are going to be ready for it,” Ortiz said. “We’ll be prepared for our conference and it’s just a matter of getting them prepared and ready to go.”

Heber Springs’ Dalton Yancey. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

GAME STATS

HEBER SPRINGS AT DOVER
Junior High Football 
September 17, 2020  
Heber Springs     8  15   0   7 - 30 
Dover             0   0   0   8 -  8 
FIRST QUARTER 
Heber Springs, Dalton Yancey 3-yard run (Liam Buffalo to Yancey pass), 3:31
SECOND QUARTER 
Heber Springs, Parker Brown 2-yard run (Buffalo to Brown pass), 7:09
Heber Springs, Buffalo to Yancey 70-yard pass (Gideon Tate kick), 4:08
FOURTH QUARTER 
Heber Springs, Buffalo to Brown 71-yard pass (Tate kick), 5:52
Dover, Draxton Mediano 3-yard run (Landon Meador run), :31

TEAM STATS 
First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 6, Dover 7
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 9, Dover 0 
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 0, Dover 0 
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 15, Dover 7
Penalties: Heber Springs 5/40, Dover 3/20 
3rd-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 3/5, Dover 2/8 
4th-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 1/2, Dover 1/2
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 1/1, Dover 0/0 
Sacked/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 0/0, Dover 1/9
Total Offense: Heber Springs 422, Dover 91
Rush/Yards/Avg: Heber Springs 14/112/8, Dover 23/76/3.3
Passing (A/C-Yards-TD/Int): Heber Springs 15/22-310-2/0, Dover 5/14-15-0/1
Punts: Heber Springs 0, Dover 4/153/38.3
INDIVIDUAL STATS 
OFFENSE 
Rushing: Heber Springs, Dalton Yancey 3/44, Gideon Tate 4/28, Parker Brown 3/26, Weston Warden 4/14. Dover, Draxton Mediano 11/60, Drew Masters 7/12, Landen Canfield 1/2, Talvin Leavell 4/2.
Passing: Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo 14/21-291-2/0, Zachary Parker 1/1-19-0/0. Dover, Talvin Leavell 5/14-15-0/1.
Receiving: Heber Springs, Parker Brown 2/99, Dalton Yancey 3/91, Weston Warden 4/42, Bryce Seigrist 2/35, Xander Lindley 2/25, Hud Haggard 2/18. Dover, Landen Canfield 1/11, Colton Shuffield 3/2, Draxton Mediano 1/2.
Kickoff Returns: Heber Springs, Corbin Jones 1/0. Dover, Colton Shuffield 2/65, Landen Canfield 2/20
Punt Returns: Heber Springs, Xander Lindley 1/13
Interceptions: Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo 1/0 
Total Offense: Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo 291, Dalton Yancey 44, Gideon Tate 28, Parker Brown 26, Zachary Parker 19, Weston Warden 14. Dover, Draxton Mediano 60, Talvin Leavell 17, Drew Masters 12, Landen Canfield 2
All-Purpose Yards: Heber Springs, Dalton Yancey 135, Parker Brown 125, Weston Warden 56, Xander Lindley 38, Bryce Seagrist 35, Gideon Tate 28, Hud Haggard 18. Dover, Draxton Mediano 62, Colton Shuffield 62, Landen Canfield 33, Drew Masters 12, Talvin Leavell 2.
DEFENSE 
SACKS/YARDS LOST: Heber Springs, Parker Brown 1/9 
PUNTS: Dover, Talvin Leavell 4/153/38.2 
KICKING: Heber Springs, Gideon Tate (2/2 XP)