HEBER SPRINGS – The Heber Springs seventh-grade Panthers came up short as Clinton defeated the Cubs, 16-14.
Heber Springs struck first with Samuel Bush touchdown, but Clinton responded on a Dereck Infante touchdown run and a Keegan Rose 2-point conversion to lead 8-6 with just over seven minutes to play in the first half.
The Panthers moved the ball deep into Clinton territory before halftime after a long run by Landon Brown, a Lachlan Tubbs to Rhett Herring pass and a nice run by Bush, but Heber Springs couldn’t push the ball in the end zone and turned the ball over on downs. The Panthers trailed 8-6 at the break.
Clinton took a a 16-6 advantage after another Infante touchdown run and successful 2-point conversion.
Heber Springs pulled to within two late in the contest when Tubbs connected with Josiah Riggs for the score. Bush added the 2-point conversion to make it 16-14 in favor of Clinton.
The Panthers wouldn’t get the ball back as Clinton ran out the clock to end the game and earn the win. The two teams will meet again in Clinton in the season finalee.
Heber Springs will return to action on Sept. 9 at Harding Academy.
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 (Searcy)
Sep. 16 – Dover
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
HEBER SPRINGS 7TH-GRADE ROSTER
Coaches: Drew Lawrence, Jeff Bise and Hunter Davis
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.”
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.”
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
Lyon College signee Taylor Hammons finished with a hat trick as Heber Springs improved to 2-0 on the young season with a 6-nil victory over Southside Batesville at Panther Stadium.
Hammons scored all of her goals in the first half, as Heber Springs built up a 6-nil lead at the break and cruised to a mercy-rule win, which included a shortened second-half clock.
“I didn’t even notice it a first,” Heber Springs coach Drew Lawrence said. “I went ‘wow, Taylor’s got three.’ She’s the type that you give her the ball around the net and it will usually find a way.”
The Panthers stayed on the offensive throughout most of the contest with McKenzie Beccera, Jillian Herring and Abbi Dew all adding goals. While Becerra assisted on two goals and Selena Childress on another.
“McKenzie had two assists … and half of those were assisted,” Lawrence said. “It’s really good that we scored six goals but to have at least half of that were assisted, that’s really big. We not only have girls that can go out there and get goals on their own like Jillian and Libby did tonight, but we are also able to use the team and score that way as well.”
Heber Springs opened it’s season with a 4-1 victory over 5A Vilonia on Tuesday.
“That’s really big,” Lawrence said of the win. “I know Vilonia beat us 4-0 last year. They are a bigger school and we are a newer soccer program, so to go on the road, it was nice to really put it on them. We got big contributions from everyone involved. “
Stutts finished with two goals against Vilonia while Hammons and Herring each put one in the back of the net.
Those three seniors are among a core group that are poised for a big season.
“It really helps that nine out of our 11 starters are seniors,” Lawrence said. “It makes us really excited for this year.”
With 31 players out for the team, Lawrence is also excited about the future of the program.
“Most people would get kind off worried for the next couple of years,” he said, “but I think are first five off our bench are freshmen or sophomores. We are really excited about this year, not only because the strong senior group, but because we arealso going to keep working in those freshmen, keep on working in those sophomores, and keep on building this program.”
Heber Springs also picked up an Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) Benefit Match win on February 24 at Panther Stadium with a 5-3 decision over Harding Academy.
The Panthers led 5-nil at the break and played back-ups the second half.
Benefit matches played before the first official start date by the AAA for soccer of March 2 do not count in the official record.
HEBER SPRINGS GIRLS SOCCER
COACH DREW LAWRENCE
OVERALL RECORD: 2-0
4A-NORTH CONFERENCE RECORD: 0-0
February 24 Heber Springs 5, Harding Academy 3 $
March 3 Heber Springs 4, Vilonia 1
March 5 Heber Springs 6, Southside Batesville 0
March 9 at Morrilton 7 p.m.
March 10 Conway St. Joseph 7 p.m.
March 13 Greenbrier 7 p.m.
March 19 at Cave City 7 p.m.
March 31 at Mountain View 7 p.m.
April 2 at Wynne * 7 p.m.
April 6 Jonesboro Westside * 7 p.m.
April 9 at Brookland * 7 p.m.
April 13 Valley View * 7 p.m.
April 18 Southside Batesville Tournament
April 20 at Southside Batesville * 7 p.m.
April 23 at Lonoke * 7 p.m.
April 28 Batesville * 7 p.m.
(* - Denotes 4A-North conference contest.)
($ - Denotes Arkansas Activities Association Benefit Match. The match does not count on the official record.)
A special season may be in store for the Heber Springs Lady Panther soccer team.
The Lady Panthers, who return nine starters, will begin the new season with a preseason jamboree match against Harding Academy in Searcy at 5 p.m. Monday.
McKenzie Beccera and Jillian Herring were named to the Class 4A all-state team in 2019 and lead the list of returnees. Libby Stutts, Abbi Dew, Faith Cowherd, Natalia Durham, Stormi Bradshaw, Katia Rubio and Taylor Hammons round out the list.
“They were players who gave us a lot of good minutes last season,” Heber Springs coach Drew Lawrence said. “I expect them to do the same things this season.”
One of the team’s strengths, other than playing experience, is Cowherd at goalkeeper.
“Faith started every match and played well as a freshman,” Lawrence said. “I’m looking forward of having her back out there.”
Lawrence said experience helped to make practices go smooth.
“Experience makes everything in preseason practice go smoother,” he said. “If I happen to be watching one area of the field, the older players can help teammates in other areas of the field. We’ve been concentrating on passing and playing in small spaces and kick the ball quick toward the goal.”
Three basketball players will add depth to the squad — Ellie Riddle, Lili Chaney and Ashley Spanel. Selena Childress, who played last year, also will be a player to watch.
“I expect Ashley will be a plus with her athletic ability,” Lawrence said. “Four of the five starters in basketball will be playing soccer. We do have four freshmen, and we will see how they develop as players.”
Heber Springs has a challenging non-conference schedule — Vilonia, Morrilton, Conway St. Joseph, Greenbrier, Conway Christian, Cave Ciy and Mountain View. The Lady Panthers will compete against Southside Batesville, Lonoke, Batesville, Jonesboro Westside, Brookland, Valley View and Wynne in the Class 4A North Conference.
“We will be tested,” Lawrence said. “Brookland and Valley View will be the teams to beat, but we plan to contend. We hope to take the next step and become a No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the conference tournament and make a run at the state tournament.”
Lawrence said communication among players on the field will be another key for success.
“We have been working on improving communication,” Lawrence said. “A team doesn’t score often and communication is a part of that.”
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.
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 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.