Panthers fall in conference opener to ‘Rabbits

Heber Springs’ Parker Brown and Dalton Yancey celebrate a first-half Panther touchdown. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Lonoke converted two first-half Heber Springs turnovers into touchdowns and pulled away during the second half to claim a 36-14 win in the 2-4A Conference football opener for both teams at Panther Stadium Friday.

Heber Springs (0-1 in conference, 1-2) had four turnovers for the game — three interceptions and a lost fumble. The Jackrabbits (1-0 conference, 4-0) lost two fumbles.

“We need to fix our offense,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “Right now, we are having hard time figuring out how to take care of things up front (offensive line). We will work on that in practice next week. If we don’t fix it, it could be a long season.”

Lonoke wore down the Panther defense by keeping possession for almost 27 of minutes, including 16 of 24 minutes during the second half.

“We got good effort from the players,” Wood said. “I’m proud of the defense hanging in there, and it never quit fighting. They were on the field for the majority of the second half.”

Heber Springs sophomore running back Parker Brown rushed for more than 100 yards for the second time in three games. He ran for 163 yards on 22 carries and scored both touchdowns. Quarterback Xander Lindley, also a sophomore, completed 4-of-13 passes for 56 yards and rushed 18 times for 31 yards

Heber Springs had 14 lost-yardage plays on 59 snaps, but Panthers did record 14 first downs.

Spencer Pepper started at quarterback for the Jackrabbits in place of Bradon Allen, who was sidelined because of an injury. Pepper, who started last year at quarterback, had been used at running back and receiver this season, but he occasionally was inserted as the wildcat quarterback.

Pepper completed 7-of-12 passes for 131 yards and one touchdown. He rushed 13 times for 74 yards and scored two touchdowns.

Latrell Burnett and Landon Jones also played a major role in Lonoke’s offense. Burnett had 74 yards rushing on 11 attempts and scored one touchdown. Landon Jones caught four passes for 103 yards and one touchdown.

“We knew he (Pepper) would be the quarterback before the game,” Wood said. “He is more of a scat back, but he could throw deep. Our secondary did a good job overall defending the pass.”

Late in the first quarter, Brown’s 28-yard run gave the Panthers a first down at the Lonoke 32-yard line. The game-changing play came three plays later. Jones intercepted a Lindley pass and returned it 77 yards for a Lonoke touchdown with 5:02 remaining in the first quarter. Tom Boatright kicked the extra point for the 7-0 lead.

The Jackrabbits increased their lead midway through the second quarter after recovering a fumble at the their 35-yard line. Pepper capped a 5-play, 65-yard drive by scoring on a 36-yard run with 8:11 left in the first half. Boatright kicked the extra point for the 14-0 lead.

Lonoke scored its third touchdown on a 7-play, 68-yard drive. Pepper connected on passes to Jones and Chaston Dockery put the Jackrabbits in scoring position. Burnett scored on an 8-yard carry with 3:49 to go in the first half for the 20-0 lead.

Heber Springs responded quickly by driving 57 yards on four plays for its first score. Dalton Yancey’s 18-yard pass reception from Lindley set up Brown’s 32-yard touchdown run with two minutes remaining. A low snap spoiled the conversion as the Panthers trailed 20-6 at halftime.

Lindley rushed for 10 yards and a first down on the Panthers’ opening drive of the second half. Lonoke’s defense held on the next three plays and forced a punt.

Lonoke started the drive at the 20-yard line, but a holding penalty on first down moved the ball to the 10. Two plays later, Pepper passed to Jones at the 15-yard line and completed the 89-yard scoring play with 8:56 left in the third quarter. Boatright kicked the conversion for a 27-6 lead.

Heber Springs reached the end zone for the second time early in the fourth quarter. Brown capped the five-play drive by scoring on an 8-yard run with 11:17 left in the game. Lindley ran for the 2-point conversion, pulling the Panthers with 27-14.

Lonoke recorded a safety after Lindley retrieved a high snap in the end zone with 10:05 to play. Jones returned the free kick 60 yards for a touchdown, but a penalty wiped out the score. Pepper capped a 40-yard drive by scoring on a 3-yard carry with five minutes left. Boatright kicked the extra point.

Heber Springs will have a short week as the Panthers will play at Stuttgart in a game Thursday that will be telecasted statewide on KARZ (Channel 42, Little Rock). The Ricebirds began the conference schedule with a come-from-behind 21–18 win at Southside Batesville.

LONOKE AT HEBER SPRINGS
SEPTEMBER 23, 2021 
Lonoke (3-1, 1-0)              7  13   7   9 - 36
Heber Springs (1-2, 0-1)       0   6   0   8 - 14 
FIRST QUARTER 
L - Landon Jones 77-yard interception return (Tom Boatright kick), 5:02
SECOND QUARTER 
L - Spencer Pepper 35-yard run (Boatright kick), 8:11
L - Latrell Burnett 8-yard run (kick failed), 3:50
HS - Parker Brown 32-yard run (run failed), 2:00
THIRD QUARTER
L - Pepper to Jones 90-yard pass (Boatright kick), 8:56
FOURTH QUARTER
HS - Brown 8-yard run (Xander Lindley run), 11:17
L - Safety, snap into end zone, 10:05
L - Pepper 3-yard run (Boatright kick), 5:00
TEAM STATISTICS 
FIRST DOWNS: HS 14, Lonoke 16
RUSHES-YARDS: HS 44/201, Lonoke 34/217
PASSING YARDS: HS 56, Lonoke 131
COMP-ATT-INT: HS 5/14-3, Lonoke 7/17-0
TOTAL OFFENSE: HS 257, Lonoke 348
FUMBLES: HS 1, Lonoke 2
PENALITIES-YARDS: HS 4/20, Lonoke 7/88
PUNTS-AVERAGE: HS 2/40, Lonoke 3/36.7
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS 
RUSHING: HS, Parker Brown 22/163, Xander Lindley 18/31, Gideon Tate 3/19, Team 1/(-12). Lonoke, Spencer Pepper 13/74, Latrell Burnett 11/74, Landon Jones 5/36, Jamarrion Johnson 3/24, Jalon Branscomb 1/15, Team 1/(-6).
PASSING: HS, Lindley 5/14-56-0/2, Easton Cusick 0/1-0-0/1. Lonoke, Pepper 7/17-131-1/0
RECEVING: HS, Gus Hannah 2/27, Dalton Yancey 1/18, Austin Winchester 1/12, Brown 1/(-1). Lonoke, Jones 4/103, Chaston Dockery 3/25, Burnett 1/4.
KICKOFF RETURNS: HS, Brown 3/47, Jackson West 1/18. Lonoke, Jones 1/35
PUNT RETURNS: HS, Brown 1/9
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Lonoke, Jones 1/77, Burnett 1/25, Tom Boatright 1/11.
PUNTS: Heber Springs, Lindley 2/80. Lonoke, Boatright 3/110.

HSHS All-Decade Team: 2010s

The 2010s era of Heber Springs football was the most successful decade in school history with one perfect regular season, an outright conference title and two more that were shared. The decade also saw the Panthers reach the playoffs nine out of 10 seasons.

The 2010 season saw Steve Janski’s Panthers open with wins over Mountain View and Harding Academy before falling to Bald Knob and, in the conference opener, to Lonoke. A win over Stuttgart would follow with a setback at Marianna-Lee, before the Panthers would win four straight to close the regular season. A loss at Joe T. Robinson ended Heber Springs’ season with a 7-5 mark.

History would be made in 2011 as the Panthers opened the season by dominating defending 4A state champion Shiloh Christian, 36-17, in the opener at Reynolds’ Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. Heber Springs would put 49 on Harding Academy, 55 on Bald Knob and 63 on Lonoke, before winning at Stuttgart 28-21. No team in the regular season would get to less than two touchdowns the rest of the way as the Panthers completed a perfect regular season and the school’s first outright conference title sine 1979. The second-ranked Panthers would defeat Shiloh Christian again in a first-round playoff match-up at Panther Stadium before falling to Farmington to finish at 11-1 on the year. The 11 wins are the most in school history.

The 2012 team, opened with a loss to Pottsville and had a week 2 game at Harding Academy canceled after weather delays in the first half. A win over Gentry would make the Panthers 1-1 heading into conference play. Heber Springs would not repeat as conference champions finishing 2-4A play at 4-3, closing the regular season with a loss to new conference member Pine Bluff Dollarway. The Panthers would rebound in the playoffs downing Star City and Pea Ridge to reach the quarterfinals of the playoffs. Highland ended the Panthers season leaving Heber Springs with a 7-5 mark.

Janski’s last season at Heber Springs, 2013, would see the Panthers claim wins over Marianna-Lee and Southside Batesville but finish with a 2-8 mark.

Assistant coach David Farr was promoted to head coach for the 2014 campaign. The Panthers would down Clinton and Harding Academy in nonconference play before finishing 5-2 in conference play. The Panthers would drop Crossett in first-round playoff contest before seeing their season at Warren the following week to finish 8-4.

The offseason would see Farr take a job at Maumelle and long-time assistant coach Darren Gowen promoted to head coach. Heber Springs would open the 2015 season with a win over Clinton before falling to Greenbrier and Harding Academy in nonconference play. The Panthers would finish conference play at 4-3 to earn a playoff spot, but Star City would end Heber Springs’ season at 5-6.

The 2016 season saw Heber Springs start 0-3 in nonconference play before bouncing back to finish 6-1 in the 2-4A and earning a share of the conference title and the number 1 seed. After a first-round playoff bye, Shiloh Christian would end the Panthers season at 6-5.

In 2017, Heber Springs would open at 1-2 before earning another share of the 2-4A crown with a 6-1 conference mark. The three-way tie left the Panthers as the No. 3 seed where they would win a thrilling playoff contest at Gravette before falling at Gosnell to finish at 8-4. With the Panthers earning a share of the conference title, it was the first time since the 1979-1980 seasons that the Panthers had won at least a share of the conference title in back-to-back seasons. Those two teams joined the 1975-1976 teams as the only ones to accomplish that feat in school history.

The 2018 team attempted to be the first to win at least of share of a conference title in three consecutive seasons. After starting the season 0-3, Heber Springs would finish conference play at 6-1 but Stuttgart would win the crown with a 7-0 conference mark. The Panthers dominated former conference foe Pocahontas in first-round playoff match-up before losing at Rivercrest to finish 7-5.

Gowen would step down as head coach in the spring of 2019 to take a position in northwest Arkansas and Will Cox was promoted for the upcoming season. Heber Springs would fall to Clinton and Harding Academy in the final seconds in nonconference play, as well to Greenbrier, to start 0-3. The Panthers would finish conference play at 4-3 and get the No. 5 seed in the playoffs, after a four-way tie at the top. Shiloh Christian would end the Panthers season in the playoffs.

(Editor’s Note: The teams were selected based upon a vote by former players and coaches. They were asked to fill a ballot based upon positions. Players were allowed to a put a player in multiple positions (i.e. WR/DB). Votes were recorded based upon on the number of ballots a particular player was listed on. If a player was listed a multiple positions, they were still counted as being on one ballot. As with past decades, positions were kept fluid in order to ensure those that were on the most ballots would make the team. In several cases, there were players that received more votes for one position than the person selected for the all-decade team, but were on fewer ballots, and therefore did not make the team. In the previous decades, I was able to create a limit amount of all-purpose positions to cover those that may have been squeezed out of one position but were on more ballots than those who did make it (though not all-purpose positions do not mean those players were on fewer ballots, in many cases it was because a player exceled at so many positions that their votes were scattered). When it came time to do the 2010s, there were more votes cast by former players than any other decade. The votes were more varied than other decade. It created a situation were I was going to have to create a larger number of “all-purpose” positions to get everyone on the team that was going to get squeezed out because of the position that they played. So for this decade only, I created a second team. There are several players on the second team that were on more ballots than those on the first team, but I could not put them at position that did not play (an example would be if someone played WR/DB, I could not put them on the offensive line even though they were on more ballots than someone on first-team offensive line). That is just an example. Also, there is no punter on the second team, because all of those who received votes were already on the team so an extra “all-purpose” position was created in its place. And with ALL of the all-decade teams, there are some very, very good football players that didn’t make it and this decade was no exception. The hardest part of doing this was leaving out those who have contributed so much to the Panther program over the years. Coming in October, all those on any all-decade will be eligible to be voted on the all-time team that will be selected by a vote by the public).

The 2010s HSHS All-Decade Football Team

(Position, Player and Last Season Played)

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

WR – Clint Ligon (2012)

WR – Pierce Mitchum (2016)

OL – Jimbo Bodron (2010)

OL – J.J. Bray (2018)

OL – Andrew Davis (2011)

OL – Derrik Fisher (2012)

OL – Joseph Tharp (2010)

QB – Adam Martin (2019)

RB – Chandler Marquardt (2014)

RB – Markeyvus Mays (2011)

RB – Blaze Nelson (2018)

K – Julian Cameron (2018)

AP – Michael Ludwig (2011)

DEFENSE

DL – Chris Hart (2017)

DL – Zach McCormick (2014)

DL – Luke McGowan (2016)

LB – Geoffrey Anderson (2011)

LB – Ethan Bly (2012)

LB – James Ketchum (2015)

LB – Mason Williams (2010)

DB – Jacob Bremmon (2017)

DB – Micah Dew (2012)

DB – Nate Dew (2016)

DB – Brooks Morgan (2012)

P – Landon Glover (2011)

AP – Hunter Chandler (2015)

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

WR – Andrew Hill (2010)

WR – Rocky Finney (2018)

OL – Austin Childers (2011)

OL – Harley Hannah (2019)

OL – Nate Hills (2013)

OL – Ethan Lee (2012)

OL – Dylan Platt (2015)

QB – Michael Kramer (2013)

RB – Chandler Jones (2014)

RB – Julio Rubio (2019)

RB/WR – Gunner Nelson (2012)

K – Edgar Torres (2015)

AP – Joseph Stacks (2017)

DEFENSE

DL – Dalton Hall (2018)

DL – Harley Hooten (2012)

DL – Kody Youngblood (2014)

LB – Fate Berry (2019)

LB – Dustin Ervin (2012)

LB – Wade Gilbrech (2012)

LB – Landon Johnson (2019)

DB – Caleb Carmikle (2010)

DB – Cooper Lawrence (2013)

DB – Jesse Lawrence (2011)

DB – Dillon Spivey (2017)

AP – Brandon Loethen (2017)

AP – Ian Lowe (2013)

PREVIOUS DECADES

The 2000s HSHS All-Decade Team

The 1990s HSHS All-Decade Team

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 GameDay: Panthers open 2-4A play against Lonoke

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Celebration of last week’s 44-0 win at Dover quickly became short-lived for the Heber Springs Panthers.

The Panthers (1-1) turned their attention at Monday’s practice to Friday’s 7 p.m. 2-4A Conference football opener against Lonoke (3-0) at Panther Stadium.

“We had good execution for the most part against Dover,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “We accomplished our goal of fixing some areas and discovered other areas that need more work. We were going into situation that we need a win and proved that we could put points on the board, and we could stop the other team.”

Wood told his team during the Dover postgame huddle that the conference race begins the following week.

“I told them we played two nonconference games and now our focus should be on the conference games, starting with Lonoke,” Wood said. “What we do in conference play will determine if we are playing in late November and December. It’s a fresh start for all teams.”

The Jackrabbits rolled past Carlisle (54-12) in their opener and had impressive wins against Beebe (28-21) and Newport (29-20).

Quarterback Braylon Allen is the leader of the offense with multi-talented Spencer Pepper. In 2020, Pepper was the starting quarterback until an injury sidelined him. He will start at running back and occasionally move to receiver. Pepper also has been used as the wildcat quarterback.

“No. 7 (Allen) was a ninth-grader who moved up when Pepper was inured and played well,” Wood said. “He is very athletic and can throw or run. No. 5 (Pepper) is also a threat. We must know where they are at all times.”

Lonoke uses a spread attack on offense, but different than what the Panthers witnessed against Harding Academy.

“They will try and establish the run,” Wood said. “Lonoke has the capability of throwing the ball, but it wants to spread the defense. We must be careful of not just playing the run.”

Wood plans to counter with the Panther dynamic duo of quarterback Xander Lindley and running back Parker Brown. Lindley completed 12-of 18 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns against Dover. Brown caught three passes for 220 yards, all for touchdowns.

“Parker is an athlete who makes big things happen,” Wood said. “If team concentrates just on Parker, it will up open the offense for other players. I was pleased with Parker’s play against Dover. (Easton) Cusick and (Austin) Winchester had good games, too. Austin caught the touchdown pass and ran like a bull for the last 10 yards. He showed his determination to get into the end zone.”

Wood also liked the defense’s performance. The Panthers held Dover to a minus 30 yards rushing and 23 net yards of offense.

“I was pleased with the defense’s pursuit and seeing four or five guys making tackles,” Wood said. “We want a swarming type of defense. The shutout was nice and gives confidence to the defense. One of the defensive keys against Lonoke will be keeping leverage on whoever has the ball. “

Wood said Friday’s game will set the tone for the remainder of the season.

“We want to start conference play with a win,” he said. “Lonoke was our focus this week and then we will move on to Stuttgart and Central Arkansas Christian.”

  • Kickoff: 7 p.m.
  • 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.  You can listen live here.

CONFERENCE SCOREBOARD WEEK 3

  • Heber Springs 44, Dover 0
  • Central Arkansas Christian 35, Mayflower 34
  • Lonoke 29, Newport 20
  • Dardanelle 42, Clinton 26
  • Bald Knob bye
  • Little Rock Mills bye
  • Southside Batesville Bye
  • Stuttgart bye

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE WEEK 4

  • Heber Springs (1-1) at Lonoke (2-1)
  • Little Rock Mills (3-0) at Bald Knob (0-3)
  • Clinton (1-2) at Central Arkansas Christian (2-1)
  • Stuttgart (2-1) at Southside Batesville (2-1)

The Series: Lonoke leads the all-time series, 15-10

The two teams first meet in 1931, a 25-0 victory by the Jackrabbits in Lonoke. The schools would play eight times between 1931 and 1942 with the Panthers lone victory coming in 1933, 19-0. The two teams wouldn’t meet again for almost 50 years when the two schools were both part of the 5AA-North conference for the 1991-92 cycle with the Jackrabbits winning both of those conference contests. Fourteen years later in 2006, Heber Springs and Lonoke would again be placed in the same conference (the 4A-2). Since 2006, the Panthers have won nine out of 15 contests, including five straight in the series before Lonoke won in 2019 and 2020.

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Heber Springs tops Lonoke in junior high action

Heber Springs’ Weston Warden looks to get up field after taking a screen pass from Liam Buffalo Thursday night in Lonoke. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

LONOKE – Heber Springs overcame a sluggish start to claim a 34-12 conference-opening victory over Lonoke Thursday night.

Liam Buffalo threw his first interception this season in more than 50 attempts, but that would be the only blemish for the ninth-grader on the night as he was 11 of 14 passing for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 95 yards and three touchdowns on seven attempts.

Weston Warden caught five passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns including a 23-yarder with 7:34 to play in the first half to tie the game at 6-6, and an 85-yarder on a screen pass that he took the distance to give the Panthers (3-1, 1-0) a 12-6 lead with 1:13 left in the half – a lead the Panthers wouldn’t give up.

Lonoke (0-2, 0-1) struck first as Marquez Jackson took the opening kickoff 82 yards for a score to give the Jackrabbits an early 6-0 advantage.

The Panthers first drive was stalled thanks in part to a pair of 10-yard penalties and an interception by Lonoke’s Tanner Starks.

Lonoke appeared to be driving for another score reaching the Heber Springs 28, but on third-and-3, Jacob McMullin threw Lonoke quarterback J.T. Stuart for a seven-yard loss to end the Jackrabbit momentum as a fourth-down pass play came up short.

The Panthers would then drive 74 yards on 10 plays to tie things up on the Buffalo to Warden 23-yard scoring pass.

Heber Springs held Lonoke on their next possession thanks in part to tackles for loss by Luke Elliott and Buffalo.

After a 33-yard punt by Stuart, Buffalo connected with Warden, who did the rest for the 85-yard score.

McMullin, who recovered three onside kick attempts on the night, covered the onside attempt at the Panther 48. Buffalo would race 52 yards for the score with 7:11 left in the third quarter. Buffalo would connect with Logan Rutledge for the 2-point conversion to make it 20-6.

On the ensuing kickoff, Jackson would strike again return the kickoff for 74 yards to make it 20-12.

Heber Springs would use a seven-play, 57-yard drive to respond as Buffalo capped the drive with a 13-yard scoring run to make it 26-12.

The Panthers added a fourth-quarter touchdown on a 5-yard run by Buffalo and a 2-point conversion by Buffalo to set the final score.

Heber Springs returns to action Tuesday night at Panther Stadium against Stuttgart.

HEBER SPRINGS AT LONOKE
SEPTEMBER 23, 2021 
Heber Springs   0  12  14   6 - 32 
Lonoke          6   0   6   0 - 12 
FIRST QUARTER 
L - Marquez Jackson 82-yard kickoff return (run failed), 7:47
SECOND QUARTER 
HS - Liam Buffalo to Weston Warden 23-yard pass (pass failed), 7:34
HS - Buffalo to Warden 85-yard pass (run failed), 1:13
THIRD QUARTER 
HS - Buffalo 52-yard run (Buffalo to Logan Rutledge pass), 7:11
L - Jackson 74-yard kickoff return (run failed), 6:59
HS - Buffalo 13-yard run (run failed), 3:45
FOURTH QUARTER 
HS - Buffalo 5-yard run (Buffalo run), 7:14
TEAM STATISTICS 
FIRST DOWNS: HS 15, L 5
RUSHES-YARDS: HS 21/161, L 21/33
PASSING YARDS: HS 201, L 34
TOTAL OFFENSE: HS 362, L 67
COMP-ATT-INT: HS 11-14-1, L 4-11-1
FUMBLES: HS 0, L 0
PENALITIES-YARDS: HS 6/40, L 0/0
PUNTS-AVERAGE: HS 0, L 1/33
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS 
RUSHING: HS, Liam Buffalo 7/95, Lucas Garcia 6/49, Logan Rutledge 1/13, Carter Julian 1/7, Weston Warden 5/2, Team 1/(-5). Lonoke, D'Mar Eason 4/17, Marquez Jackson 5/14, J.T. Stuart 7/13, Will Payne 1/2, Alex Whiting 2/2, Dexter Rollason 1/(-4), Team 1/(-11).
PASSING: HS, Buffalo 11/14-201-2/1, Stuart 4/11-34-0/1
RECEVING: HS, Warden 5/124, Ty West 2/22, Julian 2/20, Seth Dudeck 1/27, Rutledge 1/8. L, Tanner Starks 1/22, Cameron Hooten 1/9, Jaden Mays 1/5, Payne 1/(-2).
KICKOFF RETURNS: L, Jackson 2/156, T.J. Terry 1/7.
PUNT RETURNS: None
INT RETURNS: HS, Caleb Carr 1/29. L, Starks 1/18
FUMBLE RETURNS: None
PUNTS: L, Stuart 1/33.

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 – Heber Springs 34, Lonoke 12 *

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)

Panther Cubs tripped up at Lonoke

Heber Springs’ Lachlan Tubbs looks for running room at Lonoke Thursday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

LONOKE – The Heber Springs Panther Cubs ran into an undefeated Lonoke 7th-Grade squad and came out with a 20-6 setback Thursday night.

Lonoke took a 14-0 lead in the halftime break with touchdown runs at the 12:40 and 1:50 mark of the first half, with a 2-point conversion coming on the latter score.

The Jackrabbits added another touchdown at the 15:04 mark of the second half before the Panthers got on the board with 31 seconds left on a 16-yard Lachlan Tubbs touchdown run. The 2-point conversion failed.

Heber Springs falls to 1-2 on the season with the loss.

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 – Lonoke 20, Heber Springs 6

Sep. 28 – Stuttgart

Oct. 07 – at Central Arkansas Christian

Oct. 14 – Bald Knob

Oct. 21 – at Southside Batesville

Oct. 28 – at Clinton

HSHS All-Decade Team: 2000s

The 2000s era of Heber Springs football started with a whimper and ended with a bang.

Long-time assistant Todd Thompson would take over for Bill Buckner for the 2000 campaign as the 2AAA conference would see some changes with Hoxie joining the conference. Heber Springs would struggle through the 2000 and 2001 seasons, before breaking into the win column with an 2002 season-opening win over Little Rock Lutheran. After a loss to Clinton, the Panthers would down Lamar before entering conference play. Corning had replaced Bald Knob starting with the 2002 season.

Former Panther standout Dale Cresswell would take over as head coach for the 2003 and 2004 seasons, claiming a win against Lamar in 2004.

Former East Carolina University assistant coach Steve Janski would take over the program starting with the 2005 season and guide the team the rest of the decade.

Opening with a win over Bald Knob, the Panthers would also claim a nonconference win at Lamar. Heber Springs would break at conference losing streak on Oct. 21, 2005, with a win at Mountain View. They would follow that with a win over Yellville-Summit to finish 4-6.

The 2006 campaign saw Heber Springs shifted to the 2-4A conference joining Lonoke, Stuttgart, Marianna-Lee, Bald Knob, Southside Batesville, Mountain View and Newport. The Panthers would start the season 4-0 with wins over Clinton, DeWitt, Yellville-Summit and Lonoke, before falling to Stuttgart and Marianna-Lee in back-to-back weeks. Blowout wins over Bald Knob and Southside Batesville would follow, before Heber Springs would claim its first win over Newport. Mountain View forfeited the reminder of its season on Oct. 23 due to low player numbers giving the Panthers a 13-0 conference win. The Yellowjackets did field a “B” team that traveled to Heber Springs in week 10 so the Panthers could have a “senior night,” heading into the playoffs. The Panthers would claim their first playoff win in 27 years with a 21-12 win over Greenland. Heber Springs would finish out a 10-3 with a loss at Nashville.

The 2007 Panthers would finish the season with a 5-6 record earning the school’s first back-to-back appearance in the playoffs. In week 8, Heber Springs would set a school record with 76 points in win over Southside Batesville.

The 2008 Heber Springs would start the season 1-4 and the postseason definitely seemed in doubt as the Panthers trailed at Marianna-Lee 30-0 with 8:10 left in the first half, but Heber Springs would score 32 unanswered to claim a 32-30 win. That victory seem to propel the Panthers as they would win six straight, including playoff wins over Prairie Grove and West Fork reaching the 4A quarterfinals for the third time in school history and the first time since 1979. Heber Springs would end with an 8-5 mark.

Heber Springs’ 2009 season saw a 4-0 start, before falling at Stuttgart, 15-12, in week 4. After a win against Marianna-Lee and a loss at Bald Knob, the Panthers would five-in-a-row to advance to the 4A quarterfinals in back-to-back for the first time in school history. The Panthers would finish with a 10-3 mark.

The 2000s HSHS All-Decade Football Team

(Position, Player and Last Season Played)

OFFENSE

WR – Shane Bryant (2005)

WR – Stuart Tillman (2005)

OL – Frazier Blankenship (2007)

OL – Billy Grammar (2009)

OL – Trevor Reed (2006)

OL – Alex Witkowski (2007)

OL – Alex Wyatt (2006)

QB/P – Devin Tillman (2005)

RB – Curtis Decker (2006)

RB – Ryan Grist (2007)

RB – Braylon Mitchell (2009)

K – Antonio Romero (2008)

AP – Wes McMullen (2009)

AP – Taylor Tubbs (2004)

AP – Jacob Wilson (2004)

DEFENSE

DL – Garrett Davis (2006)

DL – Warren DeBusk (2000)

DL – Matt Fedora (2002)

DL – Ryan Palenske (2009)

LB – Michael Harmon (2005)

LB – Tanner Tubbs (2006)

LB – Jonathan West (2005)

LB – Thomas Wharton (2001)

DB – Hunter Derrick (2009)

DB – Jimmy Head (2001)

DB –Hilton Hoover (2008)

AP – David Darrell (2009)

AP – Jake Logan (2007)

AP – Zach Nelson (2009)

AP – Jacob Smithson (2002)

PREVIOUS DECADES

The 1990s HSHS All-Decade Team

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

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

Panthers battle, fall to Jackrabbits

Heber Springs’ Nathan McKee returns the opening kickoff against Lonoke Friday. McKee finished with 207 all-purpose yards in the Panthers 47-31 setback at Lonoke. Also pictured, Heber Springs’s Conner Riddle (6) and Gus Hannah (7) and Lonoke’s Drake Aycock (15). PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

LONOKE — Heber Springs lost to Lonoke in the 2-4A Conference football opener 47-31 Friday, but the Panthers earned the respect of head coach Todd Wood for their reaction to adversity in the second half.

Heber Springs (0-1 conference, 1-3 overall) led 6-0, 12-7 and 19-14 before the Lonoke (1-0 conference, 3-1 overall) finished the second quarter by scoring three consecutive touchdowns for a 35-19 halftime lead. The Jackrabbits maintained a two-score advantage throughout the second half.

“We are never going to give up,” Wood said. “I told the players after the game they made me proud of how they played late in the game. We had a few letdowns, but we picked it up at times and played aggressively. We played with a lot of fire in the fourth quarter. We need to play that way for the entire game.”

Heber Springs’ Matthew Cook. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Heber Springs reached the 300-yard passing mark for the second straight game. Matthew Cook completed 23-of-42 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions. Hunter Kent connected on 2-of-3 passes for 66 yards and one touchdown.

Nathan McKee led the receivers with eight receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns.

“We have been working on the new plays for three weeks,” Wood said. “We got an opportunity to show what we could do with the new plays. But the fun part is we didn’t show everything.”

Lonoke freshman Bradon Allen started at quarterback in place of Spence Pepper. Allen rushed 23 times for 74 yards and scored three touchdowns. He completed 6-of-19 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown.

Ja’coree Womack led the Jackrabbits’ running game with 20 carries for 115 yards and scored two touchdowns.

Wood said the defense had some good moments.

“We received a boost with the return of Preston Roberson at defensive end,” he said. “(Kenan) Sneed made good plays. Jackson West did a fantastic job of getting into Lonoke’s backfield and made things happen.”

Heber Springs received the opening kickoff and scored on the game’s second play from scrimmage. Cook lateraled to Kent, who suddenly stopped and connected on a 56-yard touchdown pass to Isaac King for a 6-0 lead with 11:17 left in the first quarter.

Lonoke earned its first lead after Deon Campbell’s interception set up a first down at the Heber Springs 43. The Panthers forced the Jackrabbits later into a fourth-and-one at the 18. Womack broke free and scored with 6:31 left in the first quarter. Tom Boatright kicked the extra point, giving a 7-6 lead to Lonoke.

Heber Springs regained the advantage on Kent’s 2-yard touchdown carry, which capped an 8-play, 60-yard drive, for the 12-7 with 3:27 to go in the quarter.

Lonoke converted a fumble recovery at the Panther 38 yard-line into its next score, Allen’s 22-yard run. Boatright’s successful kick returned the lead to Lonoke, 14-12, with 11:44 left in the first half.

Heber Springs struck back quickly, taking the lead three plays later. McKee caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Cook. Gus Hannah kicked the extra point for a 19-14 lead with 10:02 remaining in the first half.

“The game went back and forth early,” Wood said. “We got the lead, then lost the lead, and we got the lead back.”

Lonoke seized momentum by scoring three touchdowns before halftime, two after fourth-down stops and a pick six before halftime.

Womack scored on a 22-yard run with 7:21 left, and Anthony Parks ran for the 2-point conversion. Parks returned an interception 100 yards for a score, and Boatwright kicked the extra point. Allen’s 5-yard run finished the scoring flurry as Lonoke held a 35-19 halftime lead.

“Two of the touchdowns was because of our tackling,” Wood said. “We had a letdown during the final three minutes because of frustration and fatigue. I challenged them at halftime that we would come back and overcome those things.”

Lonoke took a 41-19 lead midway through the third quarter on Allen’s 35-yard pass to Chaston Dockery. The Panthers scored before the end of the quarter on Cook’s 32-yard pass to Diego Rubio.

Heber Springs trailed 41-25 going into the fourth quarter.

Each team scored a touchdown during the final quarter. Allen had a 2-yard scoring carry with 11:51 left for Lonoke. McKee caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from Cook for the Panthers.

HIGH SCORING GAMES

Friday night's game between Lonoke and Heber Springs produced the third most combined points in the series between the two schools.
2011 - 109 (Heber Springs 63, Lonoke 46)
2013 - 97 (Lonoke 63, Heber Springs 34)
2020 - 78 (Lonoke 47, Heber Springs 31)
1992 - 77 (Lonoke 49, Heber Springs 28)
2016 - 69 (Heber Springs 48, Lonoke 21)
2008 - 68 (Lonoke 47, Heber Springs 21)
2014 - 64 (Heber Springs 40, Lonoke 24)
2017 - 63 (Heber Springs 41, Lonoke 22)
1942 - 56 (Lonoke 53, Heber Springs 3)
2007 - 53 (Lonoke 35, Heber Springs 18)
Heber Springs’ Chris Benton. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

GAME STATS

SCORING   
Heber Springs (1-3, 0-1)          12   7  6  6 - 31 
Lonoke (3-1, 1-0)                  7  28  6  6 - 47 
FIRST QUARTER   
Heber Springs, Hunter Kent to Isaac King 56-yard pass (run failed), 11:17
Lonoke, Ja'coree Womack 18-yard run (Tom Boatright kick), 6:31
Heber Springs, Matthew Cook to Kent 1-yard pass (run failed), 3:27 
SECOND QUARTER   
Lonoke, Bradon Allen 22-yard run (Boatright kick), 11:44
Heber Springs, Cook to Nathan McKee 44-yard pass (Gus Hannah kick), 10:02
Lonoke, Womack 23-yard run (Anthony Parks run), 7:21
Lonoke, Parks 100-yard interception return (Boatright kick), 4:33
Lonoke, Allen 3-yard run (run failed), :32
THIRD QUARTER   
Lonoke, Allen to Chaston Dockery 35-yard pass (run failed), 7:58
Heber Springs, Cook to Diego Rubio 32-yard pass (pass failed), 1:58
FOURTH QUARTER 
Lonoke, Allen 2-yard run (kick failed), 11:51
Heber Springs, Cook to McKee 52-yard pass (pass failed), 6:07

TEAM STATS   
First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 5, Lonoke 9 
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 10, Lonoke 5  
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 0, Lonoke 2 
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 15, Lonoke 16 
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 1/12, Lonoke 3/13
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 3/6, Lonoke 3/7 
Red-Zone Conversions: Heber Springs 1/2, Lonoke 3/3
Time of Possession: Heber Springs 22:06, Lonoke 25:54
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 4/3, Lonoke 4/2
Turnovers: Heber Springs 6, Lonoke 2       
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 6, Lonoke 21  
Penalties: Heber Springs 5/42, Lonoke 6/42  
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 66/377/5.7, Lonoke 69/340/4.9
Rushing: Heber Springs 24/18/.8, Lonoke 50/211/4.2
Passing: Heber Springs 23/42-359-5/3, Lonoke 6/19-129-1/0
Sacked/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 3/24, Lonoke 1/11  
Punts: Heber Springs 2/63/31.5, Lonoke 3/82/27.3
Inside 20: Heber Springs 0, Lonoke 0

INDIVIDUAL STATS   
OFFENSE     
RUSHING: Heber Springs, Hunter Kent 3/27, Nathan McKee 1/23, Diego Rubio 3/10, Isaac King 1/8, Matthew Cook 15/(-14), Team 1/(-36). Lonoke, Ja'coree Womack 20/115, Bradon Allen 23/74, Anthony Parks 3/27, Latrell Burnett 1/2, Landon Jones 3/(-2), Team 1/(-5).
PASSING: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 21/39-293-4/3, Hunter Kent 2/3-66-1/0. Lonoke, Bradon Allen 6/19-129-1/0
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 8/162, Hunter Kent 5/67, Isaac King 4/73, Diego Rubio 3/39, Matthew Cook 1/10, Gus Hannah 1/8, Kenan Sneed 1/(-1). Lonoke, Landon Jones 3/63, Chaston Dockery 1/35, Anthony Parks 1/23, Ja'coree Womack 1/8.   
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 279, Hunter Kent 93, Nathan McKee 23, Diego Rubio 10, Isaac King 8. Lonoke, Bradon Allen 203, Ja'coree Womack 115, Anthony Parks 27, Latrell Burnett 2, Landon Jones (-2).
PUNT RETURNS: Heber Springs, Hunter Kent 1/17  
KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 3/30, Nathan McKee 2/22, Hunter Kent 1/34, Kenan Sneed 1/9. Lonoke, Romel Rankin 2/22, Latrell Burnett 1/7, Deon Campbell 1/0, Cody Amato 1/0.
FUMBLE RETURNS: None   
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Lonoke, Anthony Parks 1/100, Deon Campbell 1/34 
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 207, Hunter Kent 145, Isaac King 81, Diego Rubio 79, Gus Hannah 8, Kenan Sneed 8, Matthew Cook (-4). Lonoke, Anthony Parks 150, Ja'coree Womack 123, Bradon Allen 74, Landon Jones 61, Chaston Dockery 35, Deon Campbell 34, Romel Rankin 22, Latrell Burnett 9
SCORING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 12, Diego Rubio 6, Isaac King 6, Hunter Kent 6, Gus Hannah 1 (1/1 XPA). Lonoke, Bradon Allen 18, Ja'coree Womack 12, Anthony Parks 8, Chaston Dockery 6, Tom Boatright 3 (3/4 XPA)
DEFENSE    
PUNTS/YARDS/AVERAGE/INSIDE THE 20: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 2/63/31.5. Lonoke, Ayden Rowton 3/82/27.3
SACKS/YARDS LOST: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook .5/11, Hunter Kent .5/11. Lonoke, Latrell Burnett 1/9, Dalynn Waits 1/8, Seth Sherman 1/7.
Fumble Recoveries: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook, Chris Smith. Lonoke, Tayler Coffey, team 2.
Interceptions: Lonoke, Anthony Parks, Deon Campbell, Chaston Dockery.

GAMEDAY: Heber Springs opens conference play at Lonoke

Heber Springs’ Thad Bray and Diego Rubio bring down Dover’s Dawson Branch in action last week at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs lost to two of the state’s top-ranked 3A teams in non-conference, but that will not have an effect on the 2-4A Conference football opener Friday.

The Panthers (1-2) will start the chase for a conference championship at Lonoke (2-1). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

“I told the team after last week’s game (a 42-6 win against Dover) we will start with a clean slate against Lonoke,” Heber Springs head coach Todd Wood said. “We used the non-conference games as a learning experience. Winning the conference title is our goal. It is a new season, and we hope to put things together like last week.”

Heber Springs broke out of its offensive slump. The Panthers more than doubled its total offense and committed no turnovers. Heber Springs had eight turnovers in the first two games.

Matthew Cook completed 16-of-22 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns in his first start at quarterback. Heber Springs rushed for 134 yards with six receivers catching passes.

“Scoring on our first drive gave us confidence,” Wood said. “Hopefully, it will grow and we keep improving. We challenged the players before the Dover game to execute better, and they did.”

Heber Springs sophomore Isaac King flips the ball to an official after scoring last week against Dover. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Wood said the decision to start Cook at quarterback was one of the keys to the success of the offense.

“Cook will get better at quarterback,” Wood said. “Matthew passes well, and he is also a good runner. Cook did a good job of throwing to more than one receiver.”

Wood also said the offensive linemen showed improvement.

“The line played better,” Wood said. “We did a better job of protecting the quarterback.”

Quarterback Spence Pepper and running back Ja’coree Womack lead Lonoke’s offense. The Jackrabbits played Newport even for three quarters before the Greyhounds pulled away by scoring four fourth-quarter touchdowns.

“Lonoke has a lot of good athletes and speed like Newport and Harding Academy,” Wood said. “We will be playing a well-coached team again. Playing those teams helped in preparing for this game.”

The defense also had its best performance. Dover gained 65 of its 110 yards on the final drive. Wood said lineman Thad Bray, inside linebacker Kenan Sneed, cornerback Easton Cusick and safety Conner Riddle led the way.

Wood said the defense is ready for the challenge against Lonoke.

“The quarterback is not only a good runner, but a good passer,” he said. “Lonoke tries to balance its offense between the run and pass. It is going to be a challenge for our defense. We must stop big plays, keep them contained and tackle well.”

“I am on the different end of this one. I don’t think it has hit me yet. Matter of fact, I had one of the coaches come up to me and whisper in my ear and say ‘congratulations on your first win’. It hasn’t hit me yet so when I walk off the field and think about that I have been doing this for 27 years and this is the first time. I’ve been a head baseball coach and been a part of some great teams in that situation, but I’ve always been an assistant coach for football so to finally get my opportunity to be out here and be the leader of a young group and to be able to get a win is something that about and you sit back and soak in the feelings. It’s a great night for everybody.”

Heber Springs coach Todd Wood after getting his first win as a head coach last week against Dover
  • Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Lonoke
  • Admission: $5
  • 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.  You can listen live here.

CONFERENCE SCOREBOARD WEEK 3

  • Heber Springs 42, Dover 6
  • Central Arkansas Christian 32, Carlisle 6
  • Dardanelle 34, Clinton 14
  • Trumann 27, Southside Batesville 0
  • Valley View 56, Bald Knob 24
  • Newport 47, Lonoke 19
  • Stuttgart, Covid canceled with DeWitt
  • Little Rock Mills, bye

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE WEEK 4

  • Heber Springs (1-2) at Lonoke (2-1)
  • Southside Batesville (1-2) at Stuttgart (2-0)
  • Bald Knob (2-1) at Little Rock Mills (1-2)
  • Central Arkansas Christian (3-0) at Clinton (0-3)

The Series: Lonoke leads the all-time series, 14-10

The two teams first meet in 1931, a 25-0 victory by the Jackrabbits in Lonoke. The schools would play eight times between 1931 and 1942 with the Panthers lone victory coming in 1933, 19-0. The two teams wouldn’t meet again for almost 50 years when the two schools were both part of the 5AA-North conference for the 1991-92 cycle with the Jackrabbits winning both of those conference contests. Fourteen years later in 2006, Heber Springs and Lonoke would again be placed in the same conference (the 4A-2). Since 2006, the Panthers have won nine out of 14 contests, including five straight in the series before Lonoke won last season.

Junior Panthers improve to 3-0 on season

Heber Springs’ Xander Lindley runs through a tackle attempt by a pair of Lonoke defenders on his way to a 37-yard touchdown Thursday at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By PHILIP SEATON

With Lonoke starting quarterback Bradon Allen moved up to the senior high team, the Heber Springs Junior Panthers took full advantage of his absence scoring 33 first-half points en route to a 40-6 victory over Lonoke Thursday night at Panther Stadium.

Heber Springs improved to 3-0 on the season, but more importantly opened 2-4A conference play with a victory.

“We had a great game,” Heber Springs coach James Ortiz said. “We were prepared. We watched a lot of film during the week. Our guys were focused. We were ready to win and that’s all there is to it.”

In Allen’s absence, the Panthers were able to limit Lonoke to 21 yards of total offense, including 1 of 4 passing for one yard.

Freshman Xander Lindley had a big night scoring three times and finishing with 166 all-purpose yards for Heber Springs.

Heber Springs’ Corbin Jones.

After Liam Buffalo opened the scoring for the Panthers with a 6-yard run to make it 6-0 with 5:12 left in the first quarter, Lindley would score the next three times Heber Springs had possession – a 27-yard run with 3.2 seconds left in the first, a 23-yard reception with 6:53 in the second and a 37-yard reception with 2:51 left in the half – as the Panthers built a 26-0 lead.

Lindley also had a hand in Heber Springs’ next score after he recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to give the Panthers the ball on the Lonoke 40. Three plays later, Weston Warden raced 31 yards to make it 33-0 (after the Gideon Tate PAT kick) with 2:07 left in the half.

Lonoke managed to get on the board late in the half on a seven-play, 61-yard drive that Tripp Sullivan capped off with a 1-yard run with no time left on the clock. Lonoke picked up it’s only first downs of the night on the drive with two those coming on runs and three coming on Panther penalties.

Heber Springs got on the board again on its first possession of the second half as Zachary Parker connected with Dalton Yancey on a 52-yard scoring pass to make it 40-6. Tate added the PAT.

Buffalo was effective on the night for the Panthers completing 11 of 15 pass attempts for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Lindley caught five of the Buffalo offerings for 139 yards while Yancey added four receptions for 74 yards.

Warden paced Heber Springs on the ground with 56 yards while Tate rushed for 42 yards as the Panthers finished with 369 yards of total offense.

Heber Springs will travel to Stuttgart for a 7 p.m. contest on Thursday with the Ricebirds.

Heber Springs’ Gideon Tate runs with the ball in the second half. Also pictured, for Lonoke, Jackson Miller (26)

STATS

Lonoke            0   6   0   0 -  6 
Heber Springs    12  21   7   0 - 40 
FIRST QUARTER 
Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo 6-yard run (Pass failed), 5:12
Heber Springs, Xander Lindley 27-yard run (Pass failed), 3.2 
SECOND QUARTER 
Heber Springs, Buffalo to Lindley 23-yard pass (Buffalo to Lindley pass), 6:53
Heber Springs, Buffalo to Lindley 37-yard pass (Pass failed), 2:51
Heber Springs, Weston Warden 31-yard run (Gideon Tate kick), 2:07
Lonoke, Tripp Sullivan 4-yard run (Pass failed), :00
FOURTH QUARTER 
Heber Springs, Zachary Parker to Dalton Yancey 52-yard pass (Tate kick), 5:08 

TEAM STATS 
First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 6, Lonoke 2
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 9, Lonoke 0 
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 0, Lonoke 3
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 15, Lonoke 5
Penalties: Heber Springs 7/53, Lonoke 4/20
3rd-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 2/6, Lonoke 1/5
4th-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 3/4, Lonoke 0/0 
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 2/0, Lonoke 2/2
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 2/17, Lonoke 0/0
Total Offense: Heber Springs 369, Lonoke 21 
Rush/Yards/Avg: Heber Springs 22/147/6.7, Lonoke 16/20/1.3
Passing (A/C-Yards-TD/Int): Heber Springs 12/16-222-3/0, Lonoke 1/4-1-0/1
Punts: Heber Springs 0/0, Lonoke 4/145/36.3

INDIVIDUAL STATS 
OFFENSE 
Rushing: Heber Springs, Weston Warden 4/56, Gideon Tate 10/42, Xander Lindley 1/27, Parker Brown 1/8, Liam Buffalo 1/6, Jacob Golden 1/5, Ladd Choate 2/5, Hayden Johnson 1/4, Bryce Seigrist 1/(-6). Lonoke, Kemarcus Jones 1/18, Zhorion Gipson 6/14, Tripp Sullivan 9/(-12).
Passing: Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo 11/15-170-2/0, Zachary Parker 1/1-52-1/0. Lonoke, Tripp Sullivan 1/4-1-0/1.
Receiving: Heber Springs, Xander Lindley 5/139, Dalton Yancey 4/74, Weston Warden 2/3, Parker Brown 1/6. Lonoke, Zhorion Gipson 1/1.
Kickoff Returns: Heber Springs, Hud Haggard 1/0. Lonoke, Kemarcus Jones 3/21, Tripp Sullivan 2/18, Alex Whiting 1/7, J.T. Stuart 1/1. 
Total Offense: Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo 176, Weston Warden 56, Zachary Parker 52, Gideon Tate 42, Xander Lindley 27, Parker Brown 8, Jacob Golden 5, Ladd Choate 5, Hayden Johnson 4, Bryce Seigrist (-6). Lonoke, Kemarcus Jones 18, Zhorion Gipson 14, Tripp Sullivan (-11).
All-Purpose Yards: Heber Springs, Xander Lindley 166, Dalton Yancey 74, Weston Warden 59, Gideon Tate 42, Parker Brown 14, Liam Buffalo 6, Jacob Golden 5, Ladd Choate 5, Hayden Johnson 4, Bryce Seigrist (-6).
DEFENSE 
Sacks/Yards lost: Heber Springs, Hud Haggard 1/11, Parker Brown 1/6
Interceptions: Heber Springs, Logan Rutledge 1/0.
Fumble Recoveries: Ladd Choate, Xander Lindley. 
Punts: Lonoke, Tripp Sullvian 4/145/36.3 
Kicking: Heber Springs, Gideon Tate (2/2 XP)