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
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
Heber Springs and Clinton will play for more than the Battle of the Little Red trophy at Jim Tumlison Field in Clinton on Friday night.
The winner will move up one notch on the Class 4A playoff seeding ladder and remain alive for the No. 4 seed and a bye from the first weekend of postseason play. Remaining teams will start the playoffs in play-in games on either Nov. 12 or Nov. 13.
Heber Springs seeks its first win in the fifth annual Battle of the Little Red. Kickoff is scheduled at 7 p.m.
The Panthers (1-4 2-4A Conference, 2-6 overall) are coming off a 22-17 win at Southside Batesville. Clinton (1-4 conference, 1-7 overall) defeated Bald Knob, also on the road, 21-15.
“The players are aware of the atmosphere surrounding the game,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “They know what must be done and returned to practice this week with more energy after playing a complete game for the first time this season.”
Wood said the Panthers learned from their second-half performance against Bald Knob two weeks ago and took a step forward.
“We realized what was not done in the past and played four good quarters against Southside,” he said. “We pulled close during the second half of previous games, but we never could get over the hump. We put ourselves in position to win the game against Southside during the fourth quarter.”
Clinton head coach Chris Dufrene said preparation is no different than previous games with the Panthers, except the game is now a conference game.
“We would want to win whether it was the first game of the season or the ninth week,” Dufrene said. “It means more this year because it is a conference game and will affect playoff seeding.”
But Dufrene said winning the trophy again is important.
“The trophy adds more pressure,” he said. “The game has been a good thing with all of the community involvement. It helps a lot of families in need who live in both communities.”
Clinton continues with its Wing-T offense, led by sophomore quarterback Harley Tobin. Junior Nick Epley, senior Brody Emberton, and juniors Jacob Hutto and Cody Davis are the primary threats in the running game.
The Yellowjackets have put the ball in the air more this season. Seniors Blaine Emberton and Jasper Burgess have been his primary targets.
“We like to spread the ball around more with the passing game,” Dufrene said. “Harley has played great at times and other times like a sophomore. He had a good game against Bald Knob with three touchdown passes.”
Clinton’s defense played well against Bald Knob and had three interceptions. Epley’s interception with two minutes left stopped a potential scoring drive by the Bulldogs.
Wood said Clinton will carry momentum from its win at Bald Knob into Friday’s game.
“The win gave them a big boost,” he said. “Clinton did what it needed to do and won. They ran the ball well and then spread the field with the passing game. The quarterback is versatile, makes good decisions and can run and pass. They also have two good running backs with breakaway speed.”
Heber Springs’ offense went through growing pains earlier this season, but it picked up the pace against Southside.
Senior Matthew Cook, who made the transition from receiver to quarterback, has completed 92-of-162 passes for 1,112 yards and eight touchdowns. Senior Nathan McKee leads the Panthers in receiving with 34 catches for 455 yards and three touchdowns. Two sophomores have emerged as targets in the passing game. Isaac King has caught 17 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Easton Cusick has 16 receptions for 210 yards.
Senior Diego Rubio is the leading rusher with 355 yards on 72 attempts and scored six touchdowns.
Wood said play improved drastically on the offensive and defensive lines and one of the determining factors in last week’s win
“We have to take care of the line of scrimmage again and win that battle,” Wood said. “Jayden Bremmon, Thad Bray, Lucas Langster, Trevor Weathers and Chris Smith played well. It helped by moving Preston Roberson back to linebacker, where he is better suited to play. I was pleased with the play of our (offensive and defensive) linemen.”
W L CP W L PS PA
Stuttgart 5 0 65 7 0 270 33
Central Arkansas Christian 5 0 51 8 0 272 159
Lonoke 4 1 44 6 2 296 199
Bald Knob 2 3 19 4 4 194 172
Southside Batesville 1 4 13 2 6 151 241
Little Rock Mills 1 4 11 2 6 164 231
Clinton 1 4 6 1 7 165 330
Heber Springs 1 4 5 2 6 150 272
Friday, October 23
Heber Springs 22, Southside Batesville 17
Central Arkansas Christian 49, Lonoke 34
Clinton 21, Bald Knob 15
Stuttgart 28, Little Rock Mills 0
Friday, October 30
Heber Springs at Clinton
Central Arkansas Christian at Bald Knob
Southside Batesville at Little Rock Mills
Lonoke at Stuttgart
Kickoff: 7 p.m. in Clinton
Radio/Streaming: Billy Morgan with handle the play-by-play with Lance Hamilton providing color on KSUG 101.9 The Lake. Panther Pregame begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by the game. Listen live link here.
Honorary Captains: For Heber Springs, long-time journalist and Heber Springs graduate Larry “Scoop” McCarty. For Clinton, former player James Washington.
HEBER SPRINGS VS. CLINTON “Battle of the Little Red” Clinton leads the series 40-38-5. Games played in Heber Springs: Clinton leads, 20-19-1 Games played in Clinton: Clinton leads 20-18-4 Games played on a Neutral Field: Heber Springs leads, 1-0.
FIRST MEETING: Heber Springs’ first season of football was 1913 and it would be 26 years before Clinton fielded its first team. It didn’t take long for the two teams to meet after that with Heber Springs winning the first game played between the two schools on October 13, 1939, in Heber Springs. The Panthers won by a score of 31-0 on that day. The two teams met again less than a month later on Veteran’s Day (November 11) 1939 in Clinton where the Panthers and Yellowjackets played to a 6-6 tie. The teams would go on to play continuously after that with a couple of exceptions. During World War II, neither school fielded a team during the 1943 season while Clinton did not field one during the 1944 season. After the war, Clinton and Heber Springs would meet twice per season in 1945 and 1946 with the Yellowjackets winning all four meetings. Financial constraints in the Heber Springs School District forced the school to not field a football team for the 1947 and 1948 seasons. The two teams meet again during the 1949 season with Clinton winning both games of the home-and-home series. The teams would go on continuously playing until 2007 when the opener scheduled with Clinton — which was played during the 2006 season at the Hooten’s Kickoff Classic at Estes Stadium on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway — was changed to allow the Panthers to play Mayflower instead of Clinton in the same Kickoff Classic in 2007. The series resumed in 2008 and continues today. LONGEST WINNING STREAKS: Clinton has won six straight in the series twice. Once from 1945-1949 and the second time from 2000-2005. Heber Springs won seven straight in the series from 1978-1984. CONFERENCE FOES: Heber Springs and Clinton were first paired in the same conference in 1974. They would be paired in the same conference from 1974-1990. They would again be paired in the same conference from 1993-2001 and from 2008-2013. The two teams are back in the same conference after Clinton moved up from 3A and replaced Riverview in the conference. OVERTIME GAMES: There have only been three overtime games in the series and those all occurred during a four-year span from 1986-1989. Clinton won a double overtime home contest in 1986 (20-14) while the Panthers won in overtime the following season in 1987, 19-12, in Heber Springs. In 1989, Clinton defeated Heber Springs, 13-12, at Panther Stadium. CLOSE GAMES: Twenty-four of the games have been decided by a touchdown or less during the series, not including the five ties. COACH’S WIFE: Clinton head coach Chris Dufrene’s wife Heather (Bivins) is a 1987 graduate of Heber Springs High School. TROPHY GAMES: Heber Springs won the trophy for the Hooten’s Kickoff Classic between the two schools in 2006, but since the inception of the “Battle of the Little Red” trophy, Clinton has won all four meetings, 28-20 in 2016 in Clinton, 28-17 in 2017 in Heber Springs, 36-34 in 2018 in Clinton, and 28-27 last season in Heber Springs . Heber Springs will be looking to break a four-game losing streak to Clinton.
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
FAYETTEVILLE — Competing at less than full strength didn’t keep the Heber Springs Lady Panthers from finishing among the top 10 at the Class 4A indoor track and field meet.
The Lady Panthers were third in two relays, placed in five other events and captured seventh place at Randal Tyson Track Center Friday.
Three Heber Springs athletes were sidelined by injuries, while a fourth athlete missed the competition because of the flu.
“I’m pleased with the effort,” Heber Springs first-year coach Hunter Davis said. “We showed that we can still compete for a state championship without all of our athletes available.”
The 4×400- and 4×800-meter relay teams each finished third. McKenzie Bacerra, Vallie Cantrell, Samantha Gilley and Jillian Herring had a time of 4:44.66 in the 4×400 relay. Sydney Buffalo, Taylor Hammons, Cantrell, and Bacerra had a time of 11:13.30 in the 4×800 relay.
“The relay teams performed well and give us optimism for the season,” Davis said. “Jillian just came from basketball and stepped in and ran well. We had to piece our relays together. I expected our relays to do a little better, but it was a learning experience. We will do better during the outdoor season.”
Freshman Jaylea Hooten finished fifth in the high jump (4-10) and sixth in the 60-meter hurdles (10.90).
Cantrell was fourth in the 3200-meter run (13:45.95) and ninth in the high jump (4-4).
Buffalo captured seventh in the 1600-meter run (6:32.35) and eighth in the 3200-meter run (14:24.78).
Hammons finished sixth in the 1600-meter run (6:23.28).
In the 800-meter run, Becerra was seventh (2:53.44) and Sophie Lawrence claimed eighth (2:51.95).
SENIOR BOYS The Heber Springs Panthers placed one athlete and two relay teams among the top 10 at the Class 4A Indoor track and field meet Friday.
Dalton McCollum finished seventh in the 400-meter dash with a time of 55.44.
McCollum, Dalton Scoggins, Brad Baker and Nathan Poff captured sixth place in the 4×800-meter relay with a time of 9:23.10.
Colt Allen, Landon Leisenring, Luke Greenwald and Morgan Saltman were ninth in the 4×400-meter relay with a time of 4:02.45.
“They gave their best and performed well for the first meet,” Heber Springs coach Dale Cresswell said. “We got good performance from McCollum and Dalton Scoggins in the 400-meter dash. I believe they will do better as the season goes. The relay teams also ran well. I believe they can get under four minutes soon and 3:45 by the conference meet.”
Heber Springs will compete at the Searcy Relays on March 12 at Lion Stadium.
Radio: Billy Morgan with handle the play-by-play with Lance Hamilton providing color on KSUG 101.9 The Lake. Panther Pregame begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by the game. Listen live link here.
Honorary Captains: For Heber Springs, members of the “chain gang” from the 1970s, 80s and 90s. For Clinton, former Clinton Yellowjacket and Harding University quarterback Park Parish.
Pregame tailgating starts at 4:30 p.m. with a free concert by Clinton’s Heath Sanders beginning at 5:30 p.m. Sanders, a former oilfield worker turned full-time musician, whose popularity skyrocketed after a performance on Arkansas native Bobby Bones’ radio show in early 2018.
A back-and-forth game went to Clinton, 36-34, as Julian Cameron’s game-winning field-goal attempt was no good. Lyon College signee Blaze Nelson rushed 33 times for 288 yards and four touchdowns for Heber Springs, while junior Weston Amos passed for 209 yards and four touchdowns including five of those to junior Austin Drake, who finished with 190 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
Heber Springs Coach Will Cox …
GETTING TO KNOW COACH
When Darren Gowen resigned in May to pursue other coaching opportunities in northwest Arkansas (he has since been hired as offensive coordinator at Gravette), the search was put on hold and co-defensive coordinator Will Cox was named the interim coach for the upcoming season.
Cox grew up and graduated from Highland in 2007. After high school, he played football at Concordia College in Nebraska. He then entered the coaching field where he coached for two years at his alma mater before spending two years on the staff at Greenville College in Illinois. Cox joined the staff last season and was a co-defensive coordinator.
He is married to Taylor, and the have a son that will be two years old in December, Grayson.
Offensive- or defensive-minded?
I am more of defensive mind of guy. I played defense in high school and college. I’m just a defensive guy, so I enjoy that.
What will Panther fans see defensively?
You are going to see a big change. We have switched to more of a 3-3-stack defense. We are going to be more aggressive in what we are doing. We are smaller than we have been, but what we have done with our defense is identify our 11 to 15 best tacklers and how can we get them on the field. You have a guy like Landon Johnson that has been the starting linebacker. He’s playing nose right now and he’s wrecking havoc, making our offensive line better. He’s a good football player and the closer we can get him to the ball the better. Defensively, we are going to be pretty aggressive and faster. Since we are smaller than we have been in the past, I believe that puts us in a better situation. As a team that also means that we don’t have to use offensive linemen on defense which puts us in a situation where we can go faster on offense and stay fresher.
What about the offense?
We are going to be similar to last year and what coach Gowen did. We have Coach (Jay) Bishop who coached with him I think six years and really knows the offense inside and out, but just what you do each year, you change with the personnel you have. We have coach (Chase) Roberts in here this year, and him coach Bishop have really gelled well together. We are putting a little bit more of the quarterbacks’ plate this year, when you have a three-year starter (Adam Martin), you can do that so allowing in him to take a little bit more role of ownership of our offense in running more through him and putting the ball in his hands a little bit more. Losing Blaze Nelson, that does change things, when you have him that allows you to do certain things. We don’t have Blaze, but we have a group of running backs that give us a lot of different things. The offense will be pretty similar from what you seen on Friday nights last year, but how we get there will be a little bit different.
On the interim coach tag …
It’s an awesome opportunity. I think this school and administration has really helped for this team to be successful. We lost one coach and brought in two (Roberts and Hunter Davis). They understand the senior class we have is a talented group of kids, a good group of kids, that have been through a lot so trying to keep that continuity. I told our kids that this is a testament to them,and who they are, and how this administration sees these kids. To be the head coach in Heber Springs is a pretty awesome opportunity. We have a really great situation going. I would love for that tag to removed at the end of the season and continue on here. I think it’s a great place.
HEBER SPRINGS VS. CLINTON “Battle of the Little Red” Clinton leads the series 39-38-5. Games played in Heber Springs: Tied, 19-19-1 Games played in Clinton: Clinton leads 20-18-4 Games played on a Neutral Field: Heber Springs leads, 1-0.
FIRST MEETING: Heber Springs’ first season of football was 1913 and it would be 26 years before Clinton fielded its first team. It didn’t take long for the two teams to meet after that with Heber Springs winning the first game played between the two schools on October 13, 1939, in Heber Springs. The Panthers won by a score of 31-0 on that day. The two teams met again less than a month later on Veteran’s Day (November 11) 1939 in Clinton where the Panthers and Yellowjackets played to a 6-6 tie. The teams would go on to play continuously after that with a couple of exceptions. During World War II, neither school fielded a team during the 1943 season while Clinton did not field one during the 1944 season. After the war, Clinton and Heber Springs would meet twice per season in 1945 and 1946 with the Yellowjackets winning all four meetings. Financial constraints in the Heber Springs School District forced the school to not field a football team for the 1947 and 1948 seasons. The two teams meet again during the 1949 season with Clinton winning both games of the home-and-home series. The teams would go on continuously playing until 2007 when the opener scheduled with Clinton — which was played during the 2006 season at the Hooten’s Kickoff Classic at Estes Stadium on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway — was changed to allow the Panthers to play Mayflower instead of Clinton in the same Kickoff Classic in 2007. The series resumed in 2008 and continues today. LONGEST WINNING STREAKS: Clinton has won six straight in the series twice. Once from 1945-1949 and the second time from 2000-2005. Heber Springs won seven straight in the series from 1978-1984. CONFERENCE FOES: Heber Springs and Clinton were first paired in the same conference in 1974. They would be paired in the same conference from 1974-1990. They would again be paired in the same conference from 1993-2001 and from 2008-2013. The two teams will be in the same conference next season when Clinton moves back up to class 4A. The Yellowjackets will replace Riverview in week 9. OVERTIME GAMES: There have only been three overtime games in the series and those all occurred during a four-year span from 1986-1989. Clinton won a double overtime home contest in 1986 (20-14) while the Panthers won in overtime the following season in 1987, 19-12, in Heber Springs. In 1989, Clinton defeated Heber Springs, 13-12, at Panther Stadium. CLOSE GAMES: Twenty-three of the games have been decided by a touchdown or less during the series, not including the five ties. NOVEMBER THE 4TH: Strangely enough the largest margin of both schools in the series occurred the same day 50 years apart with Clinton (56) winning 56-0 on Nov. 4, 1949; while Heber Springs (39), won 57-18 on Nov. 4, 1999. The 75 combined points both teams in that 1999 contest remain the most combined points in any contest during the series. DEFENSE: Of the 81 games played between the schools, the two teams have only combined to score more than 50 points or more 12 times, with seven those 50-plus combined scoring games coming since 2008. COACH’S WIFE: Clinton head coach Chris Dufrene’s wife Heather (Bivins) is a 1987 graduate of Heber Springs High School. TROPHY GAMES: Heber Springs won the trophy for the Hooten’s Kickoff Classic between the two schools in 2006, but since the inception of the “Battle of the Little Red” trophy, Clinton has won all three meetings, 28-20 in 2016, and 28-17 in 2017 in Heber Springs, and 36-34 last season in Clinton. Heber Springs will be looking to break a three-game losing streak to Clinton.
CLINTON – Axley Davis’ three-yard touchdown run with 2:03 provided the go-ahead spark as Heber Springs downed Clinton, 18-12, in seventh-grade football action Thursday night at Tumlison Field.
After Heber Springs failed to score on its first possession of the game, Clinton struck first as Liam Hudson connected with Peyton Sellers for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 10:33 to play in the first half. The two-point run failed.
The Panthers tied things up with 4:33 left in half as quarterback Liam Buffalo kept the ball and raced 69 yards for the game-tying score. The two-point run failed.
Clinton was moving the ball down the field late in the first half before Lawson Greenwald stepped in front of a Hudson pass and raced 69 yards to give the Panthers a 12-6 lead with eight seconds left. The two-point run failed.
The Yellowjackets knotted things up at 12-all with 14:02 to play in the game on a 30-yard run by Sellers. The two-point run failed.
Clinton still had time to tie the game, but Heber Springs’ Weston Warden’s interception ended the threat and sealed the win.
Heber Springs will look improve to 2-0 on the season on Thursday in Searcy when the Panthers tangle with Harding Academy at 5:30 p.m. Clinton will be idle next week after Conway Christian canceled their scheduled contests. The Eagles are not fielding a seventh-grade or junior high teams this season after not having enough players.
4A Panthers battle 5A Eagles; Heber Springs opens with Clinton
August 27, 2019
By Philip Seaton
VILONIA – Unofficially it was a 21-7 first-team loss to Vilonia in an Arkansas Activities Association benefit scrimmage on Tuesday at Phillip D. Weaver Stadium, but for Heber Springs coach Will Cox, he saw enough to come away happy with his teams performance.
“I thought there were some bright spots,” Cox said. “We saw some guys step up and play.”
Heber Springs finished with 202 yards of total offense in an abbreviated first half of play that saw the teams start at the 30-yard line without any kickoffs or punts.
Panther senior quarterback Adam Martin was 14-of-24 passing for 155 yards including a 7-yard touchdown pass to junior Matthew Cook right before the half to put the Panthers on the board. Returning all-conference performer Tri Johnson was Martin’s favorite target with five receptions for 84 yards.
With all-state running back Blaze Nelson and his 2,000 yards plus rushing gone from last season, senior Landon Johnson took on the bulk of the load rushing eight times for 40 yards.
“You know what you are going to get with Landon,” Cox said. “The effort you get on game day is the same effort you get every day. He’s a guy that worked out twice every day during the offseason. You know what you are going to get with him. He’s really reliable and he showed everybody else what we know about him.”
While there were some bright spots, there were some things that Cox said his team needed to work on before they open their season against Clinton on Sept. 6 at home in the Battle of the Little Red.
Among those were some dropped passes that could have led to touchdowns and missed blocks on offense, and some missed tackles and bad angles on defense that lead to Vilonia pilling up 319 yards of total offense with the majority of those coming on a screen pass that turned into a 97-yard touchdown.
“It was a lot of first opponent mistakes, but that is stuff that we can clean up” Cox said. “I told the guys that this is going to be great film for us.We are going to learn a lot from this film. It was a great opportunity to learn tonight.”
Vilonia sophomore quarterback Austin Myers was 9-of-10 passing for 266 yards and three touchdowns.
“That’s a very good Vilonia team,” Cox said of the 5A Eagles. “They are deep. They are big. They are going to have a good season. Our guys competed against them.”
SECOND HALF: The two teams played a 10 minute second-half period with the second teams. Vilonia outscored Heber Springs, 20-0, over that stretch, but senior running back Levy Phillips did show some promise during that stretch.
“(He) came in and got some good runs for us,” Cox said, “that shows that we have some depth at the running back position which is good.”
LET’S PLAY TWO: Cox said that is exciting to see that his team loves to love to play. “They can’t get enough,” he said. “ If I could let them play another game tonight, they would.”
BIG NUMBERS: While Heber Springs has 43 players on the roster, Vilonia had 83 dressed out Tuesday night and that will be the most any team dresses out against the Panthers this season. Heber Springs has the third most players out in the 4A-2 with Southside Batesville leading the way with 51 and Bald Knob with 44. Other opponents by the numbers: Clinton (37), Greenbrier (61), Harding Academy (46), Lonoke (37), Stuttgart (37), Central Arkansas Christian (40), Riverview (33) and Little Rock Mills (20).
NO CONTACT: Both quarterbacks were off limits in regards to being tackled and were downed by touch. Martin and second-team quarterback John McBroome wore a red no contact jersey.
EXTRA POINT: Jackson Harrod connected on the lone extra point for Heber Springs. The Panthers will be looking to replace the graduate Julian Cameron, who connected on a state record 100 extra points. Cameron is battling for a starting position at Arkansas Tech.
NEW COACH: Will Cox was named interim head coach over the summer after former head coach Darren Gowen left at the end of the school year in the spring to pursue other opportunities in northwest Arkansas. Gowen has since been named the offensive coordinator at Gravette. Cox was co-defensive coordinator last season with E.G. Dew.
NEW ASSISTANTS: Former Greenbrier Panther Chase Roberts is the new junior high coach and will assist on the senior high team. Roberts was the head coach of the eight-man team at Pattonsburg (Missouri) High School last season. Roberts led his team to a 10-2 record last season. Also joining the staff is Hunter Davis. Davis coached at Star City last season. He will also be the head senior girls track coach.
NEXT YEAR: Heber Springs’ 2020 schedule has been set. Riverview is moving down to Class 3A while Clinton will be moving back up to 4A. The Yellowjackets will replace Riverview in week 9 in conference. The Panthers will open at home in 2020 against Newport followed by a road date at Harding Academy before wrapping up nonconference play at home against Dover. Heber Springs athletic director Brad Reese said he attempted to schedule Riverview for a nonconference date but the Searcy school opted for a game with Bauxite instead.
GLOWING REVIEW: Former Heber Springs coach Bill Buckner made an appearance on the sidelines on Tuesday night to catch some of the action. Buckner, who has since retired after years of coaching in the area with stops at Quitman, Greenbrier and Vilonia among others, was impressed with what he saw from the Panthers. “Tell the people of Heber Springs that they have a good football team,” he said.
OPENING DRIVE: 10 plays, 36 yards. Highlights: Adam Martin 10-yard run, Landon Johnson 14- and 13-yard runs. Result: Turnover on downs.
SECOND DRIVE: 10 plays, 68 yards. Highlights: Adam Martin to Tri Johnson for 34-yard completion. Result: Stopped on fourth-and-goal at the 1.
THIRD DRIVE: 5 plays, 20 yards. Result: Fictional punt.
FOURTH DRIVE: 10 plays, 70 yards: Highlights: Adam Martin to Landon Johnson for 12- and 25-yard pass completions. Result: Touchdown.
INDIVIDUAL STATS (First-half only)
Rushing: Heber Springs, Landon Johnson 8-40; Julie Rubio 5-5; Adam Martin 5-2. Vilonia, Draven Smith 7-43; Seth Kick 1-5; Austin Myers 1-3; Tyler Moran 1-2.
Passing: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 14-24-155-1-0. Vilonia, Austin Myers 9-10-266-3-0.
Receiving: Heber Springs, Tri Johnson 5-84; Landon Johnson 3-45; Matthew Cook 3-13-1; Landon Barbee 1-8; Nathan McKee 1-6; Hunter Kent 1-(-1). Vilonia, Tyler Moran 4-127-1; Jamison Hinsley 2-40-1; Kannon Bartlett 1-45; Draven Smith 1-38; Corbin Watson 1-24-1.
TEAM (First-half only)
Rushing: Heber Springs 18-47; Vilonia 10-53
Passing: Heber Springs, 14-24-155-1-0; Vilonia 9-10-266-3-0