Panthers fall in home opener to Southside

Heber Springs running back Parker Brown looks for running room against Southside Batesville Friday night at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Turnovers and Southside Batesville’s punishing run game proved too big of an obstacle for the Heber Springs Panthers to overcome at Panther Stadium on Friday.

Southside converted 3-of-5 Heber Springs turnovers into touchdowns and gained 509 yards of offense in a 44-6 nonconference win against the Panthers. The Southerners (2-1) won by their largest margin in the series (38 points), which started in 2006, and back-to-back games against Heber Springs (0-2) for the first time.

“When you give another team five turnovers, no matter the team, you are probably going to lose,” Panther coach Todd Wood said. “That is what happened in this game. I told the team at halftime the turnovers gave Southside 21 points. That’s an example you have to score when you have an opportunity.”

Even though Heber Springs only reached the end zone once, Wood said the offense showed more production than in last week’s game at Clinton.

The Panthers gained 270 yards, sparked by quarterback Xander Lindley, and receivers Dalton Yancey and Easton Cusick. Lindley completed 20-of-28 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown pass. Yancey caught seven passes for 75 yards, while Cusick had six catches for 53 yards.

Running back Parker Brown, who gained 165 all-purpose yards, rushed for 88 yards, caught four passes for 35 yards and one touchdown, plus 21 yards on punt returns and 46 yards on kickoff returns.

“We moved the ball on offense well at times,” Wood said. “But we need to find a way to not turn it over. Lindley threw better and had good preparation for this game. He looked more comfortable at quarterback.”

Seth Case rushed for 238 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns for the Southerners. Colby Harris and Louis Calhoun ran for 84 and 83 yards and scored one touchdown, respectively. Southside averaged 11 yards per attempt.

Southerner quarterback Chase Duncan completed 2-of-2 passes for 49 yards.

“We didn’t execute well on defense and were out of position on a lot of plays,” Wood said. “We were getting smashed down the field. We can’t let that happen.”

Heber Springs received the opening kickoff and had one first down before a bad snap on the next series of plays led to a punt.

Southside took the initial lead on a three-play, 73-yard series. Harris broke loose on a 64-yard touchdown with 7:55 left in the first quarter. Brandon Lopez kicked the extra point.

The Southerners regained possession when Blayne Warren recovered a Brown fumble at the Southerner 31. Calhoun finished a nine-play, 69-yard drive by scoring on a 3-yard carry with 2:01 to go in the first quarter. Lopez kicked the conversion for the 14-0 lead.

A fourth-down stop near midfield put the Southerners in scoring position for their third touchdown during the first half. Duncan scored on a 6-yard run with 10:08 left in the second quarter. Lopez kicked the conversion for the 21-0 lead.

An Adam Denison’s interception of a Lindley pass at the Southerner 15-yard line set up the next Southside touchdown. Case scored on an 85-yard touchdown run with 4:29 remaining until halftime. Lopez converted the conversion kick for a 28-0 lead.

The fourth Heber Springs turnover during the first half set up Southside’s next score. Case dashed 63 yards for the score with 2:24 left until halftime. Lopez’ kick for the extra point was unsuccessful.

After the kickoff, Heber Springs drove 60 yards on five plays for its touchdown. Cusick caught a 23-yard pass from Lindley to put the Panthers in scoring position. On the next play, Lindley connected on a short throw to Brown for a 29-yard touchdown on the final play of the first half. The Panthers were unsuccessful on the 2-point conversion try and trailed 34-6 at halftime.

“If we don’t turn the ball over so much during the first half, it might have been a different game in the second half,” Wood told the Panthers at halftime. “We moved the ball on our opening series consistently until the bad snap. It put us behind the chains. Those are the kind of things that we can’t let happen.”

Southside struck quickly following the second half kickoff by driving 82 yards on 12 plays. Pierce Duncan scored on a 7-yard keeper with 6:36 left in the third quarter. Lopez kicked the extra point for the 41-6 lead.

A Tyler Jones interception set up Lopez’ 37-yard field goal with 8:19 left in the game.

Heber Springs will conclude the nonconference schedule by hosting Jonesboro Westside (1-1), which had an open date, at 7 p.m. Friday.

“I told the team after the game we played well on defense at Clinton and this week we played better on offense,” Wood said. “We need to learn how to click on both sides of the ball during the same game. We will learn from our mistakes and look to play a complete game against Westside.”

The Panthers will open the 2-4A Conference schedule and celebrate homecoming against Cave City on Sept. 23.

“That is what these games are for,” said Wood when referring to non-conference games. “I challenged them to finish strong against Westside with a great effort on offense and defense, and then see what kind of team we can be.”

Panthers host former conference foe for nonconference tilt

Heber Springs senior linebacker Kenan Sneed celebrates after making a fourth-down stop last week at Clinton. Heber Springs will play host to Southside Batesville tonight at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Changes from the original schedule will give the Heber Springs Panthers a rare opportunity beginning Friday night — three consecutive home football games.

The Panthers, who will play only nine games this season after Mountain View declared for 8-Man, look for that extra boost from playing at home and rebound from the season-opening loss at Clinton by hosting Southside Batesville in a nonconference game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Heber Springs will finish its nonconference schedule against Jonesboro Westside on Sept. 16. The 2-4A Conference opener and homecoming game against Cave City will be played on Sept. 23.

“The schedule worked out that way when Mountain View dropped out,” Panther coach Todd Wood said. “The players like playing at home. We had a fantastic crowd at Clinton, but playing at home will give them a boost to play at a higher level.”

Southside, which moved to Class 5A at alignment, is a former long-time conference opponent.

Kenny Simpson, who was the program’s first coach before leaving for Searcy High School two years, has returned to take the reigns of the program. The running game remains the main focus, but the Southerners will utilize the pass.

“Southside added a few wrinkles with RPOs (Run or Pass Options) and play-action passes,” Wood said. “The running game still is the staple. We must stop the run and forced them into doing things that they don’t want to do.”

Isaac Gregory of the Southerners had a breakout game in last week’s 28-0 win at Bald Knob by catching 18 passes for 202 yards and scoring three touchdowns.

“When a defense gears up to stop the run, it can open up the pass,” Wood said. “That always benefits a receiver. It will give us another phase of the game to work on. We have to stop the run, but we must be ready to stop the pass, too.”

Southside’s defense will play a similar scheme, as Bald Knob operates out of a spread offense like the Panthers.

“We expect a 3-man front with two linebackers walking up occasionally to a five-man front,” Wood said. “The safeties will play up close. It’s a defense that is aggressive against the run. Southside executes at a high level and plays with discipline.”

Heber Springs relied on its defense to stay close against Clinton in the 30-14 loss. Linebackers Kenan Sneed had 10 tackles, but he received support from Chris Edwards, who also had 10 tackles. Edwards was a starting cornerback last season.

“We had multiple players who played well on defense,” Wood said. “Two other guys that pleased me with their play were safety Chris Roberts and Zachary Parker at cornerback. Clinton passed to its big receivers multiple times, and he (Parker) made the plays. (Linebacker) Weston Warden also had a fantastic game.”

Four other defensive players also caught the coach’s attention with their performances.

“Jacob McMullin played well at inside linebacker,” Wood said. “Corbin Jones played both ways (offensive and defensive lines) and made a big difference. Luke Elliott came through, and Jordan Tidwell made an impact. I liked see that many players involved with the defense.”

Work on the offense became one of the dominant areas at practice throughout the week. Heber Springs had 225 yards of total offense (121 rushing yards, 104 passing yards).

Wood said few personnel changes are planned, but more emphasis will be on the running game.

“We need more guys to get active with the offense,” Wood said. “We need to put in a receiver like Bauer Pruitt more, who can catch the ball and also is a good blocker. We need Chris Edwards more involved, along with Chandler Webber.”

One of the concerns in the passing game was dropped balls, but Wood expects that will be an improvement against the Southerners.

“We had around nine drops in the Clinton game,” Wood said. “Other passes were not thrown well. We are working to correct that. We need to stop the turnovers and have longer drives than three downs and a punt.”

Wood said the offensive line, which has one returning starter, played admirely, and he expects steady improvement.

“After talking with (offensive line) coach Richard Clevenger, freshman Cade James had the highest grade among the linemen,” Wood said. “We had some breakdowns, but I was pleased with our pass blocking. Our run blocking did well most of the time, except for not sustaining our blocks long enough.”

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Heber Springs handles Southside Batesville in JV action

HEBER SPRINGS – Molly Smith finished with 16 points as Heber Springs defeated Southside Batesville, 44-30, in senior girls junior varsity play at the Panther Den.

Heber Springs led 24-15 at the half.

Madison Edington paced the Southerners with 10 points.

HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (44): Molly Smith 16, Kylie Carr 8, Sophie Stone 8, Emily Fuller 6, Lindsay Southerland 2, Ava Little 2.

SOUTHSIDE BATESVILLE (30): Madison Edington 10, Rose Branscum 8, Carrigan Cossey 6, Avery Simpson 4, Milam 2.

Southside Batesville tops Heber Springs in junior girls play

HEBER SPRINGS – Southside Batesville defeated Heber Springs, 33-16, in a junior girls contest at the Panther Den.

The Southerners led 15-6 at the break and 23-11 after three quarters.

SOUTHSIDE BATESVILLE SCORING (33): Carter 14, McCance 4, Sutton 5, Hargwood 2, Sherberth 4, Trucks 2, Guillette 2.

HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (16): Taylor Parker 3, Jovie Smithson 5, Baleigh Burchfield 4, Ella Williams 4

Heber Springs downs Southside Batesville in 7th-grade girls play

HEBER SPRINGS – The Heber Springs seventh-grade girls basketball team downed Southside Batesville, 12-8, in action from the Panther Den.

Heber Springs led 10-4 at the half and were paced by Phoebe Reed’s four points.

HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (12): Phoebe Reed 4, Sophie Joyner 1, Mackenzie Lozeau 2, Carly Holland 3, Ashlyn Jumper 2

SOUTHSIDE BATESVILLE SCORING (8): Taylor 2, Caddy 4, Martinez 2

Wrong side of ‘mercy rule’ for Panthers

Heber Springs sophomore Gideon Tate picks up a couple of yards on a fourth-quarter rushing attempt. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Heber Springs held up against Southside Batesville’s physical and aggressive style of football early in the game, but a blocked punt late in the first quarter opened the door as the Southerners spoiled homecoming for the Panthers with a 35-7 win Friday.

The loss dropped Heber Springs (2-3 in 2-4A Conference, 3-4 overall) into a fifth-place tie with Little Rock Mills (2-3 in 2-4A Conference, 6-2 overall). Mills lost to conference-leading Stuttgart (5-0 in 2-4A Conference, 7-1 overall), 63-28.
Clinton (3-2 in 2-4A Conference, 4-4 overall) routed Bald Knob (0-5 in 2-4A Conference, 0-8 overall) and took sole possession of fourth place. Southside (4-1 in 2-4A Conference, 6-2 overall) remained tied for second place with Lonoke (4-1 in 2-4A Conference, 7-1 overall).

Heber Springs held the Southerners to four yards until the blocked punt late in the first quarter. Southside finished with 322 yards — 299 yards rushing and 23 yards passing.

Seth Case and Landen Haas provided the big plays in Southside’s running game. Case had 122 yards on eight carries, while Haas ran seven times for 103 yards.

“Southside is a very good football club,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “They are trained in what they do well and play physical. They beat you down over time, and that is what they have done every game.”

The Panthers had a promising start before making the game’s first mistake.

“Our defense played well in the beginning and moved the ball on offense with short passes,” Wood said. “We played toe-to-toe with them during the first quarter.”

Heber Springs quarterback Easton Cusick completed 17-of-32 passes for 149 yards and one touchdown. Gideon Tate led the Panthers in rushing — four carries for 11 yards. Jackson West led the receivers with five catches for 37 yards, while Austin Winchester had four receptions for 26 yards. Chris Edwards caught three passes for 44 yards and one touchdown.

Heber Springs was held to zero rushing yards for the game as a team.

“Southside’s job was to stop Parker Brown (the team’s leading rusher),” Wood said. “We moved him to different spots and tried to use him as a decoy. I was proud of the way Easton played. He is still learning and made some good throws.”

The Panthers lost the services of sophomore outside linebacker Hayden Johnson to an injury. Johnson, the team’s second-leading tackler, was injured during the second quarter.

Southside’s Alex Allen blocked Cusick’s punt and took possession at the Heber Springs 15-yard line. Three plays later, Nicky Risner scored on a 5-yard run with 11:26 left in the first half. Brandon Lopez kicked the extra point for the 7-0 lead.

Cusick’s 51-yard punt pinned the Southerners at its 5-yard line. Southside responded with a 9-play, 95 yard drive as Case ran 46 yards for a touchdown with 7:20 remaining until halftime. Lopez executed the kick for the conversion, increasing the lead to 14-0.

The Southerners struck quickly on their next possession Haas broke free on an 80-yard touchdown run with 4:33 left in the first half. Lopez kicked the extra point.

Southside scored again before halftime by driving 55 yards on seven plays. Blayne Warden caught a 10-yard scoring pass from Haas with two seconds to go. Lopez kicked the extra point for a 28-0 halftime lead.

Southside received the second half kickoff and needed four plays on a 52-yard drive. Bryson Duncan scored on a 2-yard dive with 10:15 to go in the third quarter. Lopez kicked the extra point.

Heber Springs finished the game with an efficient 87-yard drive on nine plays. Tate ran for one first down, while Cusick passed to Austin Winchester for another first-and-10. With the clock running down, Cusick connected on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Chris Edwards with 14 seconds to play. Tate kicked the extra point.

“That was a good drive and a good way to end the game,” Wood said. “Austin Winchester and Chandler Webber caught passes. Edwards made a good catch for the touchdown.”

Heber Springs will host Clinton in the sixth Battle of the Little Red on Friday.

“We need to learn from this game and move on,” Wood said. “Clinton is next, and we need to stay focus and build momentum.”

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October 15, 2021 
Heber Springs (3-4, 2-3)          0   0   0   7 -   7
Southside Batesville (6-2, 4-1)   0  28   7   0 -  35 
SS - Nicky Risner 5-yard run (Brandon Lopez kick), 11:26
SS - Bryson Duncan 46-yard run (Lopez kick), 7:20
SS - Landen Haas 80-yard run (Lopez kick), 4:33
SS - Haas to Blayne Warden 10-yard pass (Lopez kick), :28
SS - Duncan 2-yard run (Lopez kick), 10:15
HS - Easton Cusick to Chris Edwards 24-yard pass (Gideon Tate kick), :00
RUSHES-YARDS: HS 16/0, SS 33/299
COMP-ATT-INT: HS 17-32-1, SS 2-5-0
PUNTS-AVERAGE: HS 5/28.8, SS 3/46
RUSHING: HS, Gideon Tate 4/11, Parker Brown 4/2, Easton Cusick 7/(-2), Team 1/(-11). SS, Seth Case 8/122, Landen Haas 7/103, Nicky Risner 5/32, Bryson Duncan 4/15, Jacob Dunne 3/11, Steven Riggs 2/8, Kaleb West 1/7, Jacob Bunn 1/5, Colby Harris 1/4, Team 1/(-8).
PASSING: HS, Cusick 17/32-149-1/1. SS, Haas 2/5-23-1/0
RECEVING: HS, Jackson West 5/23, Austin Winchester 4/26, Chris Edwards 3/21, Dalton Yancey 3/27, Gus Hannah 1/11, Chandler Webber 1/5. SS, Dunne 1/13, Blayne Warden 1/10.
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: SS, Justin Vannattan 1/5 
PUNTS: HS, Cusick 4/144/36.0, Team 1/0/1 blk. SS, Warden 3/138/46

Panther GameDay: Homecoming awaits



A mission awaits the Heber Springs Panthers for homecoming at Panther Stadium Friday.

The Panthers (2-2 in 2-4A Conference, 3-3 overall) will host Southside Batesville (3-1 in 2-4A Conference, 5-2) and hope not only to slow down the Southerners’ running game, but move up a notch in the conference standings. Southside and Lonoke are tied for second place in the conference, one game ahead of Heber Springs.

The Southerners rolled past Central Arkansas Christian 59-19 last week, while the Panthers escaped with a 14-7 win at Bald Knob.

“We were put in a difficult situation with our starting quarterback (Xander Lindley) was injured early in the game,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “The injury forced us to find other ways to win. We pulled it out and won on the road. That game built our confidence and tells the guys if you keep fighting, good things can happen.”

Lindley suffered a broken collarbone and will miss the remainder of the season. Easton Cusick, who starts at wide receiver, moved to quarterback. Cusick completed 9-of-16 passes for 56 yards and one touchdown, and he rushed nine times for 27 yards.

“Cusick played in other games and took snaps in practice, but he was put in a different situation,” Wood said. “We talked at halftime, made a few adjustments. He led the team well during the second half.”

Wood changed blocking assignments and adjusted two plays.

“We made changes at halftime for the offensive line and went with shorter patterns in the passing game,” Wood said. “The change gave more time to pass and helped Cusick to read the defense better.”

Wood said the defense kept the team in the game during the first half, stopping Bald Knob four times in five possessions, all that started on the Panthers’ side of midfield. Kenan Sneed’s interception return early during the fourth quarter keyed the Panthers’ comeback.

“I can’t say enough about the defense, especially during the first half,” Wood said. “The defense played lights out. Sneed’s interception return for a touchdown was the turning point. The Bulldogs surprised us by going for the first down late in the game. Our defense shut them down and got the ball back.”

Dalton Yancey caught two passes for 24 yards, but his 18-yard reception on fourth down late in the game set up the winning touchdown.

“If we don’t get the first down, we don’t have the last two plays and score the touchdown,” Wood said. “Dalton found a way to get open and got in a good spot. Eastern scrambled, threw a good pass and kept us alive.”

Heber Springs plans no major changes on defense, but preparing to slow down the Southside running game. The Southerners rushed for 480 yards and eight touchdowns against CAC.

“Southside is rolling with a win against Lonoke and took Stuttgart to the wire,” Wood said. “Their style of offense is difficult to defend. They have speed in the backfield, and the line is very athletic and strong.”

Quarterback Landen Haas directs Southside’s Wing-T attack with running threats like Nick Risner, Jacob Dunne, Brandon Lopez and Steven Riggs. Dunne ran for three touchdowns and Risner scored two touchdowns in last week’s game.

The Southerners also have the capability to throw the ball downfield. Tyler Jones is one of Haas’ primary targets.

“They have the pieces for a good team,” Wood said. “We need to control the ball and execute well. It’s a good combo when a team can run and pass the ball effectively. That puts pressure on the defense. We must be ready for the run and the pass.”

Coaches often worry about the  distractions at homecoming to players, but Wood said his team will handle them well.

“I mentioned to the players they need to enjoy all of the festivities,” Wood said. “They need to focus on the game when it is time to play.”

Wood explained the keys to a third straight win for the Panthers.

“Offensively, we need to control the ball and adjust to a new quarterback,” he said. “The game will be decided on the line of scrimmage. The defense must read its keys and play physical. We played well again CAC and Bald Knob, which were running teams. We need to force them to pass.”


  • Kickoff: 7 p.m.
  • 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. Steaming is available on The Lake’s YouTube page.
  • Homecoming: The Homecoming parade begins at 2 p.m. and ends with a pep rally in downtown at 2:30 p.m. Tailgating starts at 4 p.m. A track-naming dedication ceremony for coaches Harold Wilson and Johnette Goldman at 5:30 p.m. and the homecoming ceremony at 6:15 p.m.

THE SERIES: Heber Springs lead 13-2

SERIES HISTORY: This will be the 16th time these two teams have meet on the football field since Southside Batesville started its football program in 2006. Heber Springs won the first 10 meetings in the series before the Southerners claimed a 24-20 victory at home in 2016 before the Panthers would win the next two. Southside Batesville has won only once at Panther Stadium,   48-20, in 2019. The Panthers won last season 22-17 at Southside Batesville.


                            W L CP  W L PS  PA 
Stuttgart                   4 0 42  6 1 251 126 
Lonoke                      3 1 39  6 1 232 111
Southside Batesville        3 1 28  5 2 256 137                      
Clinton                     2 2 23  3 4 182 222
Little Rock Mills           2 2 26  5 2 282 186   
Heber Springs               2 2 20  3 3 126 153  
Bald Knob                   0 4  0  0 7  81 209
Central Arkansas Christian  0 4  0  2 5 178 337    

Friday, October 16
Heber Springs 14, Bald Knob 7
Southside Batesville 59, Central Arkansas Christian 19
Lonoke 35, Little Rock Mills 6
Stuttgart 43, Clinton 14
Friday, October 23
Southside Batesville at Heber Springs
Bald Knob at Clinton
Stuttgart at Little Rock Mills
Central Arkansas Christian at Lonoke

Heber Springs holds off Southside Batesville

Heber Springs’ Logan Rutledge gets a block and looks downfield for yards against Southside Batesville Thursday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

SOUTHSIDE BATESVILLE – Liam Buffalo passed for 231 yards and two touchdowns in helping lead the Heber Springs junior Panthers to their sixth win of the season Thursday night, 22-14.

Logan Rutledge had a career-high eight receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown and finished with 182 all-purpose yards, while Weston Warden had four receptions for 122 yards and a score for the Panthers.

Warden’s score came on Heber Springs’ second possession of the game when he took a pass from Buffalo and raced 55 yards for a touchdown. The score capped off a five-play, 95-yard drive, after the Panther defense held the Southerners on a fourth-down play on the Heber Springs 5-yard line.

Rutledge recovered a fumble on the ensuing onside-kick attempt by Heber Springs, but the Panthers’ drive stalled at the Southside 24.

The Panther defense had another fourth-down stop, this time at the Heber Springs 1, but the Panthers couldn’t muster a drive before punting it back to the Southerners.

Southside Batesville took over on the Panther 49 and four plays later, Cameron Foree connected with Brayden Simpson for a 24-yard touchdown. Foree scored on  the 2-point conversion to take an 8-6 lead with 1:23 left in the half.

Two plays later, Heber Springs responded when Buffalo found Rutledge for a 44-yard touchdown pass. Warden caught the 2-point pass from Buffalo to make it 14-8 with 50 seconds left in the half.

In the second half, the two teams traded possessions before Rutledge picked off a Foree pass and returned it 45 yards with 33 seconds to go in the third quarter.

Five plays later, Buffalo rambled 13 yards to for a insurance score for the Panthers. Seth Dudeck’s 2-point pass reception made it 22-8 with 6:51 left.

Southside Batesville responded to the score by using a methodical time-consuming, 12-play, 68-yard drive to close the gap to 22-14 with 1:05 to play.

The Panthers recovered the onside-kick attempts and killed the clock to earn the win.

Heber Springs will close out its season Thursday night at Clinton. A win would give the Panthers the runner-up spot in the 2-4A behind Central Arkansas Christian.

OCTOBER 21, 2021 
Southside Batesville      0   8   0   6 - 14 
Heber Springs             6   8   0   8 - 22
HS - Liam Buffalo to Weston Warden 55-yard pass (pass failed), 4:03
SS - Cameron Foree to Brayden Simpson 24-yard pass (Foree run), 1:23
HS - Buffalo to Logan Rutledge 44-yard pass (Buffalo to Warden run), :50
HS - Buffalo 13-yard run (Buffalo to Seth Dudeck pass), 6:51
SS - Louis Calhoun 4-yard run (run failed), 1:05
RUSHES-YARDS: HS 13/25, SS 33/197
COMP-ATT-INT: HS 15-25-0, SS 4-11-1
RUSHING: HS, Liam Buffalo 7/53, Carter Julian 1/4, Weston Warden 1/2, Cooper Holmes 2/(-2), Team 3/(-32). SS, Louis Calhoun 18/100, Caden Rowlett 4/42, Jonathan Powell 3/41, Brodee Vanwinkle 3/13, Andrew Plumber 2/3, Cameron Foree 3/(-2).
PASSING: HS, Buffalo 15/25-231-2/0. SS, Foree 4/11-70-1/1.
RECEVING: HS, Logan Rutledge 8/114, Warden 4/122, Holmes 3/(-5). SS, Rowlett 2/40, Brayden Simpson 1/24, Rowlett 1/6.
KICKOFF RETURNS: HS, Rutledge 1/23
INT RETURNS: HS, Rutledge 1/45
PUNTS: HS, Buffalo 1/18. SS, Payton Barnes 1/35


(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 – Heber Springs 42, Stuttgart 32 *

Oct. 07 – Central Arkansas Christian 30, Heber Springs 14 *

Oct. 14 – Heber Springs 26, Bald Knob 8 *

Oct. 21 – Heber Springs 22, Southside Batesville 14 *

Oct. 28 – at Clinton *

(* – Denotes Conference Contest)

Southside Batesville downs Heber Springs 7th-Graders

Heber Springs’ Rhett Herring gets a block from teammate, Carson Robitaille, during a first-half run at Southside Batesville Thursday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

SOUTHSIDE BATESVILLE – Southside Batesville used a safety and a long touchdown run to down the Heber Springs seventh-grade Panthers Thursday night.

The game was scoreless until late in the first half when the Southerners were driving for an apparent score, but Brady Loethen recovered a fumble at the Panther 1 give the Panthers possession with less than a minute to go.

But three plays later, Southside Batesville’s Gabe Madison tackled Josiah Riggs in the end zone for safety with 10 seconds to play before halftime.

The Southerners would use their first possession of the second half to go up 8-0 after Jake Roberts ran 68 yards for a touchdown with 17:10 left in the game.

The Panthers threatened with under five minutes to play after Lachlan Tubbs connected with Samuel Bush for a 45-yard pass play to put the ball at the Southerner 5, but the Panthers were unable to capitalize and turned the ball over on downs.

Southside Batesville killed the clock to earn the win.


(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 6, Heber Springs 0

Oct. 07 – Central Arkansas Christian 8, Heber Springs 0

Oct. 14 – Heber Springs 14, Bald Knob 0

Oct. 21 – Southside Batesville 8, Heber Springs 0

Oct. 28 – at Clinton

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)



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)


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)



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)


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)


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