Stuttgart runs past Heber Springs in 2-4A contest

Heber Springs quarterback Xander Lindley attempts to allude several Stuttgart defenders in action from Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Stuttgart’s running game overwhelmed the Heber Spring Panther defense during Friday’s 2-4A Conference football game at Panther Stadium.

The Ricebirds (3-1 in 2-4A Conference, 6-2 overall) rushed for 424 yards and four touchdowns, including two 70-yard plus scoring plays, and coasted past the Panthers 38-6 and stayed one-half game behind second-place Lonoke in the conference standings.

Heber Springs (1-3 in 2-4A Conference, 2-5 overall), remained in a fourth-place tie with Bald Knob and Cave City, one-half game ahead of Riverview.

Cedric Hawkins carried 13 times for 214 yards and scored three touchdowns. Deontae Clark rushed for 115 yards on 17 attempts and completed 4-of-7 passes for 50 yards and one touchdown to Kentavian Daniels.

Hawkins, who had 258 all-purpose yards, and Clark combined for 379 of Stuttgart’s 474 yards of total offense.

“We played a very physical team for the second week in a row,” said Heber Springs coach Todd Wood, referring to the previous week’s loss at Lonoke. “We had opportunities on offense and showed flashes from Jonesboro Westside and Cave City games. That was encouraging.”

The Panthers, who didn’t have a turnover in a single game for the first time this season last week at Lonoke, lost three fumbles, one setting up a touchdown, and an interception. Heber Springs had 16 turnovers during the first five games.

The Panthers compiled 273 yards of total offense – 143 rushing and 130 passing.

Running back Parker Brown ran 12 times for 75 yards and caught four passes for 54 yards. Quarterback Xander Lindley gained 34 yards on 11 carries. Gideon Tate rushed five times for 24 yards.

Lindley, who finished with 164 yards of total offense, completed 16-of-22 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown. Easton Cusick caught seven passes for 64 yards and scored one touchdown. Dalton Yancey had five catches for 12 yards.

Brown compiled 129 all-purpose yards, including six kickoff returns for 68 yards. Cusick gained 113 all-purpose yards, which included five kickoff returns for 49 yards.

“We had guys in the right places and executed on offense at times,” Wood said. “When we got into the red zone, we have to put points on the board.”
Wood said he talked with the team before the game about preventing big plays by the Stuttgart offense.

“Defensively, we needed to eliminate explosive plays. We must contain and tackle better. We have a way to go in learning how to get the right tackling angles and how to execute better on defense. Our goals remain to improve every game and get into the playoffs.”

Stuttgart, which overcame two offsides and a holding penalties, received the opening kickoff and drove 52 yards on nine plays. Hawkins scored on a 2-yard carry with 8:17 left in the first quarter. Jack Hosman kicked the extra point for the 7-0 lead.

The Ricebirds increased their lead when Stuttgart linebacker Cade Coats returned a Parker Brown fumble 14 yards to the Heber Springs 33-yard line and set up the game’s second touchdown. Clark connected on a 21-yard scoring pass to Daniels and Hosman’s successful kick gave the Ricebirds a 14-0 lead with 26 seconds to go in the first quarter.

Heber Springs’ only first-half scoring opportunity at the end of a 42-yard drive to the Stuttgart 14-yard line. Tate’s 31-yard field-goal try went wide.
Stuttgart needed only two plays to reach the end zone again. Hawkins’ 79-yard run and Hosman’s successful kick gave the Ricebirds a 21-0 halftime lead.

Stuttgart extended its lead during the third quarter on Hosman’s 24-yard field goal and Hawkins’ 87-yard touchdown run. The Ricebirds took a 31-0 lead into the fourth quarter.

Heber Springs avoided a shutout by driving 80 yards on 11 plays during the fourth quarter. The Panthers moved into scoring position thanks to Lindley’s three pass completions to Brown. Cusick caught a 21-yard scoring pass from Lindley with 8:38 to play. Tate’s kick for the extra point was blocked.

Stuttgart’s final touchdown came on a 5-play, 69-yard drive when A.J. Higgins scored on a 2-yard run with 6:38 to play. Hosman kicked the extra point.

Heber Springs will finish a three-week stretch against conference contenders when the Panthers host first place Harding Academy on Friday.

“We knew this was going to be a tough stretch,” Wood said. “It will not get any easier against Harding, perhaps the best team in the conference. We still will be working on executing better.”

Even with another loss, the Panthers can punch a postseason ticket by winning at Riverview on Nov. 4.

“We don’t want to be in the position that the playoffs may be determined in our final game,” Wood said. “Our plan is to come out and stop Harding, and continue growth on offense and defense. Our playoff fate is still in our hands.”

Senior linebacker Chris Edwards was held out of the Stuttgart game following an injury at Lonoke.

“He could have played against Stuttgart, but we decided to hold him out,” Wood said. “He may play in the Harding game.”

Brought to you by Business Booster Tate Family Chiropractic

PHOTO: Heber Springs-Stuttgart Pregame Pep Rally

Randy Rainwater, host of Drivetime Sports on Little Rock radio station 103.7 The Buzz, broadcasts live from the pregame pep rally before the Heber Springs-Stuttgart game in Heber Springs. Rainwater broadcasts the “Sonic Blast” Pregame Show every week from a different location during high school football season. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Brought to you by Business Booster Ellen Hobgood Gallery

Rough night with Ricebirds

Heber Springs senior Thad Bray battles with Stuttgart’s Caleb Barnard Thursday night at Stuttgart. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


STUTTGART – A rough start in the 2-4A Conference football chase didn’t damper the spirit of the Heber Springs Panthers.

The Panthers (0-2 in conference, 1-3 overall) returned with a new determination for Friday’s practice following Thursday’s 42-0 loss to Stuttgart (2-0 in conference, 4-1), which advanced to last year’s state semifinals and the favorite to win the conference championship, at Ned Moseley.

Stuttgart stopped Heber Springs’ school-record streak of avoiding a shutout at 87 games. The last time the Panthers’ were shutout came on Oct. 18, 2013, at Newport (35-0).

After playing the two teams projected to finish one-two in preseason rankings, Heber Springs will play three of the next four games at Panther Stadium, starting with Central Arkansas Christian on Friday. After a road game against Bald Knob, Heber Springs will face Southside Batesville for homecoming and Clinton. The Panthers will finish the regular season at Little Rock Mills.

“I told the players we were in a similar situation last year,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “We need to focus on it is not the end of the road, but we have an opportunity at getting into the playoffs in the remaining games. CAC will be our first opportunity. Our goal is to make the playoffs.”

Stuttgart rushed 25 times for 219 yards, an average of 8.8 yards per attempt.

The Ricebirds completed 4-of-8 passes for 86 yards and finished with 300 yards of offense.

Heber Springs had 66 yards on 31 carries, an average of 2.1 yards per carry. The Panthers connected on 3-of-9 passes for 15 yards and compiled 81 yards of total offense.

Sophomore Parker Brown rushed 11 times for 41 yards, plus 53 yards on kickoff returns. Junior Easton Cusick had 51 yards on kickoff returns. Sophomore Dalton Yancey caught two passes.

“We made mistakes on offense and defense,” Wood said. “We couldn’t control the ball, which put more pressure on our defense. We never clicked on offense, and the defense could not get going.”

Wood knew before Thursday’s game that the Panthers faced a major challenge.

“You can’t give a good team like Stuttgart that many opportunities and momentum, especially early in the game,” Wood said. “It’s hard to get out that deep of the hole during the first quarter (28-0). We couldn’t recover from the slow start.”

Stuttgart received an onside kickoff and drove 54 yards on five plays to start the game. Cedric Hawkins ran 38 yards for the touchdown with 9:32 left in the first quarter. Jack Hosman kicked the extra point for the 7-0 lead.

After forcing a Heber Springs punt, the Ricebirds needed nine plays on a 59-yard drive for their second touchdown. Kameron Harper’s 34-yard catch of a Tymir Coppins pass started the series. Coppins finished the drive by throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jack Ledbetter. The try for the conversion kick was unsuccessful.

Stuttgart’s defense was able to put points on the board too. Bryer West scooped up a Heber Springs fumble and returned 25 yards for a score with 3:26 left. Coppins passed to Ledbetter for a 2-point conversion, increasing the lead to 21-0.

The Ricebirds reached the end zone again before the end of the first quarter. Coppins passed 40 yards to Hawkins for a score with 41 seconds left. Hosman kicked the extra point for the 28-0 lead.

Stuttgart added two touchdowns during the second quarter. Daniel Poole had a 66-yard scoring run with 8:01 to go, and Higgins scored on a 1-yard plunge to cap a 56-yard drive with 2:37 remaining in the first half. Hosman kicked the extra points.

Kickoff for Friday’s game against CAC is 7 p.m. Senior players, along with senior cheerleaders and the band, will be recognized in a pregame ceremony.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 
Heber Springs (1-3, 0-2)   0   0   0   0 -  0
Stuttgart (4-1, 2-0)      21  21   0   0 - 42 
S - Cedric Hawkins 39-yard run (Jack Hosman kick), 9:32
S - Tymir Coppins to Joel Ledbetter 7-yard pass (kick failed), 4:31
S - Bryer West 25-yard fumble return (Coppins to Ledbetter pass), 3:26
S - Coppins to Hawkins 40-yard pass (Hosman kick), :41
S - Daniel Poole 61-yard run (Hosman kick), 8:01
S - A.J. Higgins 1-yard run (Hosman kick), 2:27
RUSHES-YARDS: HS 31/66, S 25/219
COMP-ATT-INT: HS 3/-0, S 4/8-0
PUNTS-AVERAGE: HS 4/28.3, S 1/49
RUSHING: HS, Parker Brown 11/41, Gideon Tate 6/12, Jackson West 5/10, Easton Cusick 1/6, Xander Lindley 8/(-3). S, Daniel Poole 3/72, Cedric Hawkins 5/62, Landon Melynchuk 3/31, A.J. Higgins 6/29, Prince O'Neal 2/12, Tymir Coppins 1/12, Kemarion Pickett 3/3, Team 1/2, Matthew Luster 1/0, Jaxson Robinson 1/(-4).
PASSING: HS, Lindley 2/6-4-0/0, Cusick 1/3-11-0/0. Lonoke, Coppins 3/6-52-2/0, Melynchuk 1/2-34-0/0
RECEVING: HS, Dalton Yancey 2/4, Austin Winchester 1/11. S, Hawkins 1/40, Kameron Harper 1/34, Jack Ledbetter 1/7, O'Neal 1/5.
KICKOFF RETURNS: HS, Brown 3/53, Cusick 3/51, West 1/9. 
PUNT RETURNS: S, Coppins 1/2, Chance Rabeneck 1/1.
FUMBLE RETURNS: Bryer West 1/25
PUNTS: Heber Springs, Lindley 4/113, S, Jack Hosman 1/49

Panther GameDay: Statewide audience awaits Panthers


Heber Springs wasted no time on correcting mistakes from previous games during a short work week.

The Panthers (0-1 in 2-4A Conference, 1-2 overall) will enter Moseley Stadium in Stuttgart and challenge defending conference champion Ricebirds at 7 p.m. Thursday in a statewide televised game on KARZ (Channel 42, Little Rock).

“We made numerous mistakes (blocking) for the past two weeks and worked on correcting them,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “The same problems from the Dover game popped up against Lonoke. It’s the responsibility of the coaching staff and myself to show them how to fix the problems.”

The Panthers only completed 5-of-14 passes for 56 yards against Lonoke and had 14 plays that were for lost yardage. A majority of the plays were quarterback sacks.

“We’ve been working on different ways to protect the quarterback,” Wood said. “We’re trying to give the quarterback more time in the passing game. We gave up too many sacks against Lonoke. The sacks kept putting us in bad situations.”

Stuttgart trailed 18-7 late in the third quarter at Southside Batesville last week before scoring two touchdowns during the fourth quarter for a 21-18 win.

Southside recovered the ensuing kickoff after its third touchdown at the Stuttgart 27-yard line. The Ricebirds held and started the comeback when Cedric Hawkins caught a 32-yard scoring pass from quarterback Tymir Coppins.

Stuttgart regained possess with 9:11 left in the game and drove 65 yards on 14 plays. Coppins ran for the game-winning with 3:09 to play.

Coppins completed 17-of-24 passes for 172 yards and rushed 10 times for 52 yards and one touchdown. Hawkins also was efficient in the running game with 89 yards on nine carries and scored one touchdown. He caught four passes for 73 yards and one touchdowns.

“Stuttgart wants to establish the run, but it also throw the ball effectively,” Wood said. “They have a good running combination with the quarterback (Coppins) and running back (Hawkins). We will need to be in the right place and do our assignments to be successful. Stuttgart is explosive, and one of the keys is to limit the number of explosive plays.”

Sophomore Parker Brown leads the Panthers in rushing, receiving and scoring through three games.

Heber Springs  hopes for a more versatile offense against Stuttgart. Sophomore Parker Brown has been a one-man show through three games. Brown leads the Panthers rushing with 36 carries for 273 yards and scored three touchdowns. He has caught five passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns.

Senior center Zach Thomas returned last week after being sideline with illness. Wood said Thomas performed well with only one day of practice and his return gave a boost to the offensive line.

“My fear was he might be rusty with snaps, but he wasn’t,” Wood said. “He blocked well.

Wood expects a better overall performance by his line against the Ricebirds.

“Stuttgart plays a 4-3 and is very aggressive,” he said. “They love to blitz and play man-to-man in the secondary. Stuttgart is fast and physical. We must find ways to put pressure on them with our offense.”

Wood also believes the defense is steadily improving and that will continue on Thursday.

“The linebackers played well,” Wood said. “Kenan Sneed had 15 tackles, including four for losses. Jackson West made good plays at outside linebacker. Hayden Johnson continues to play well.”

Heber Springs will play on television for a first time in more than a decade. Wood expects his players will not be affected by that atmosphere.

“To the players, it will be a game once it starts,” he said. “We will the cameras do its job and not be concerned about it. The players will focus on the task at hand.”

  • Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Stuttgart
  • Television: KARZ Channel 42
  • 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.  Streaming available on The Lakes’ YouTube channel.

THE SERIES: Stuttgart leads the all-times series, 11-4. The two teams first meet in 2006 when the Ricebirds dropped from class 5A down to 4A and were placed in the same conference with Heber Springs. Stuttgart won the first four meetings before the Panthers claimed a 20-14 win in 2010.


                            W L CP  W L PS  PA 
Little Rock Mills           1 0 13  4 0 188  97 
Lonoke                      1 0 13  4 0 147  67                     
Clinton                     1 0 13  2 2 110 116 
Stuttgart                   1 0  3  3 1 124  93  
Heber Springs               0 1  0  1 3  65  78  
Bald Knob                   0 1  0  0 4  55 139
Central Arkansas Christian  0 1  0  2 2 117 171   
Southside Batesville        0 1  0  2 2 124  62 

Friday, September 24 
Lonoke 36, Heber Springs 14
Stuttgart 21, Southside Batesville 18
Clinton 50, Central Arkansas Christian 20
Little Rock Mills 56, Bald Knob 33
Thursday, September 30
Heber Springs at Stuttgart
Friday, October 2 
Central Arkansas Christian at Little Rock Mills
Southside Batesville at Clinton
Bald Knob at Lonoke

Quarterback battle goes to Heber Springs

Heber Springs’ Liam Buffalo races toward a second-half touchdown in Tuesday night at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

In a dueling battling of quarterbacks Tuesday night, Heber Springs’ Liam Buffalo was just a little better as the Panthers claimed a 42-32 victory over Stuttgart in 2-4A junior high action at Panther Stadium.

Heber Springs improved to 4-1 on the season, and 2-0 in conference play, with the win in game that was scheduled for a Tuesday night instead of the normal Thursday night due to the two senior high teams playing Thursday for a statewide television.

Buffalo passed for 207 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 147 yards on 16 carries and added three more scores. Stuttgart ninth-grader DeVontae Clark rushed for 272 yards on 14 carries with five touchdowns.

While Buffalo finished with 347 yards of total offense to Clark’s 291 yards, it was the Stuttgart freshman that struck first racing 90 yards to put the Ricebirds up 6-0 with 5:15 left in the first half.

Heber Springs responded less than 30 seconds later when Buffalo connected with Weston Warden for a 53-yard touchdown with 4:47 left in the second quarter.

Clark and Buffalo traded touchdown runs (12 yards for Clark and 4 yards Buffalo) in the half but Stuttgart led 14-12 at the break as Clark converted the 2-point conversion after his scoring run.

Heber Springs took the second-half kickoff and marched 66 yards on seven plays as Buffalo scored on run from the 1. Warden had his second consecutive 100-yard receiving night catching five passes for 159 yards, including receptions of 31 and 21 yards on the drive.

The Panthers 18-14 advantage at the 3:30 mark of the third quarter didn’t last as Clark raced 56 yards on the second play of the drive to give the Ricebirds a 20-18 lead.

Heber Springs quickly pushed the ball down the field on first-down runs by Warden and Buffalo and two Seth Dudeck pass receptions. The first for 13 yards and the last an 11-yard scoring strike. Buffalo hit Warden for the 2-point conversion and the Panthers led 26-20 with 39.7 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Panther defense would force Stuttgart to a three-and-out before adding another score on a 50-yard touchdown run by Buffalo. After a successful 2-point conversion by Buffalo, Clark would responded 22 seconds later to make it 34-26 with 4:42 left in the game.

After a 23-yard kickoff return by Logan Rutledge, Buffalo connected with Carter Julian for no gain before finding Warden for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Rutledge ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 42-26 with just over four minutes left.

Stuttgart’s Jawyan Terry returned the ensuing kickoff 28 yards and would have scored but was brought down by Emmitt Dwyer. However, three consecutive runs by Clark would make it a 10-point game at 42-32 with 3:09 left.

Heber Springs would pick up a pair of first downs to end the contest.

Warden finished with 202 all-purpose yards for the Panthers.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2021 
Stuttgart            0  14   6  12 - 32
Heber Springs        0  12  14  16 - 42 
S - DeVontae Clark 90-yard run (pass failed), 5:15
HS - Liam Buffalo to Weston Warden 53-yard pass (run failed), 4:47
S - Clark 12-yard run (Clark run), 2:09
HS - Buffalo 4-yard run (run failed), :22
HS - Buffalo 1-yard run (run failed), 4:32
S - Clark 56-yard run (pass failed), 3:50
HS - Buffalo to Seth Dudeck 11-yard pass (Buffalo to Warden pass), :39.7
HS - Buffalo 50-yard run (Buffalo run), 5:04
S - Clark 57-yard run (pass failed), 4:42
HS - Buffalo to Warden 43-yard pass (Logan Rutledge run), 4:12
S - Clark 4-yard run (run failed), 3:09
RUSHES-YARDS: HS 25/190, S 22/292
COMP-ATT-INT: HS 9-16-0, S 3-5-0
PUNTS-AVERAGE: HS 1/50, S 3/34.7
RUSHING: HS, Liam Buffalo 16/147, Weston Warden 9/43. Stuttgart, DeVontae Clark 14/272, Jawyan Terry 7/20, Damariya Lee 1/0. 
PASSING: HS, Buffalo 9/16-207-3/0. Stuttgart, Clark 2/4-9-0/0, Hayden Prine 1/1-36-0/0
RECEVING: HS, Warden 5/159, Seth Dudeck 3/48, Carter Julian 1/0. Stuttgart, Quaterion Johnson 2/9, Peyton Thompson 1/36
KICKOFF RETURNS: HS, Logan Rutledge 2/27. S, Terry 1/28, Johnson 2/20, Orion Talley 1/11.
PUNTS: HS, Buffalo 1/50. Stutgart, Prine 3/104


(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 – at Central Arkansas Christian *

Oct. 14 – Bald Knob *

Oct. 21 – at Southside Batesville *

Oct. 28 – at Clinton *

(* – Denotes Conference Contest)

Panther Cubs come up short against Stuttgart

Heber Springs quarterback Lachlan Tubbs manages to get a pass off despite being corralled by a Stuttgart defender Tuesday night at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

The Heber Springs seventh-grade Panthers dropped a 6-0 decision to Stuttgart Tuesday night at Panther Stadium.

After a scoreless first half, Stuttgart took the ball on the opening drive of the second half and scored on a 58-yard touchdown run by Cordaro Berry. The 2-point conversion failed.

Heber Springs took over on its own 30, consumed most of the second half clock and reached the Ricebird 15 before a fumble ended the drive with just over two minutes to play.

Stuttgart killed the clock for 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 – at Central Arkansas Christian

Oct. 14 – Bald Knob

Oct. 21 – at Southside Batesville

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

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)


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)


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)


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

GAMEDAY: Ricebirds invade Panther Stadium


Moving forward became the theme throughout the week at football practice for the Heber Springs Panther football team.

Heber Springs (0-1 2-4A Conference, 1-3 overall) will host undefeated Stuttgart (1-0 conference, 3-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.

Central Arkansas Christian and Bald Knob joined Stuttgart and Lonoke at the top of the conference standings after the first weekend of play.

Heber Springs held leads of 6-0, 12-7 and 19-14 against Lonoke. The Jackrabbits broke up a competitive game by scoring three touchdowns late in the second quarter in the 47-31 win against the Panthers.

Stuttgart shut out Southside Batesville 42-0 in its conference opener.

“I told the players that we need to build on the positives,” Heber Springs head coach Todd Wood said. “We are keeping that attitude going into Friday’s game.”

Quarterback Pate Kleinbeck and running back Cedric Hawkins lead Stuttgart’s offense. Kleinbeck has completed 24-of-46 passes for 500 yards and six touchdowns in three games. Hawkins is the team’s leading rusher with 149 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns, plus a 96-yard kickoff return for a score.

Seven receivers have caught passes, led by Arlie Lee, who has 10 catches for 207 yards and three touchdowns.

“Stuttgart has speed, size and will take advantage of your mistakes,” Wood said. “We need to do a better job of protecting the ball (14 turnovers in four games) and play with more focus on defense. Our effort was encouraging against Lonoke. We are beginning to understand that we never quit, regardless of the score or situation in a game.”

Increased production by the Heber Springs offense started two games ago when Matthew Cook became the starting quarterback. Cook has completed 39-of-61 passes for 603 yards and seven touchdowns.

The return of Nathan McKee, who had been sidelined by an injury, also gave the offense a boost. McKee has caught 13 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games.

“McKee had a great game at Lonoke, and I hope that will continue,” Wood said. “It was only the second start for Matthew at quarterback. He made some mistakes, but he also did a lot of good things.”

Wood said one of the keys to Friday’s game will be more production from the running game. The Panthers rushed for 18 yards against Lonoke.

“We need to control the line of scrimmage,” he said. “We must be able to run the ball successful.”

Wood said preventing big plays and winning the turnover battle are areas that also need improvement.

“We stressed the importance during the week of containing the other team’s offense,” he said. “We need to do a better job of tackling and win the turnover battle.”

  • Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Panther Stadium
  • 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.  

THE SERIES: Stuttgart leads the all-times series, 10-3. The two teams first meet in 2006 when the Ricebirds dropped from class 5A down to 4A and were placed in the same conference with Heber Springs. Stuttgart won the first four meetings before the Panthers claimed a 20-14 win in 2010.


                            W L CP  W L PS  PA 
Stuttgart                   1 0 13  3 0 120  12 
Lonoke                      1 0 13  3 1 168 105
Central Arkansas Christian  1 0 12  4 0 147  83  
Bald Knob                   1 0  6  3 1 130  78  
Little Rock Mills           0 1  0  1 3  86 119  
Heber Springs               0 1  0  1 3  85 143
Southside Batesville        0 1  0  1 3  61 125   
Clinton                     0 1  0  0 4  70 201 

Friday, September 25 
Central Arkansas Christian 47, Clinton 35
Stuttgart 42, Southside Batesville 0
Lonoke 47, Heber Springs 31
Bald Knob 14, Little Rock Mills 8 
Friday, October 2 
Little Rock Mills at Central Arkansas Christian
Stuttgart at Heber Springs 
Clinton at Southside Batesville
Lonoke at Bald Knob

Stuttgart stops Heber Springs in junior high action

Heber Springs’ Weston Warden runs past Stuttgart’s Devontae Clark (4) and Cade Coats (22) for a first-half score Thursday night in Stuttgart. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


STUTTGART -Stuttgart took advantage of three Heber Springs turnovers and used a persistent ground game to hand the junior Panthers a 28-14 setback Thursday night.

It was the first lost on the season for Heber Springs (3-1, 1-1).

Stuttgart rushed 40 times for 241 yards with the bulk of that coming from DeVontae Clark (22 carries for 85 yards) and quarterback Landon Melynchuck (11 carries for 108 yards).

The game was scoreless early on as Stuttgart threatened early after the Ricebirds’ Trez Hammond picked off Heber Springs’ Liam Buffalo at the Panther 41 and returned it 27 yards. But the Heber Springs defense stiffened stopping the scoring threat as Parker Brown sacked Melynchuck for an 11-yard loss on fourth down.

Four straight incompletions by Heber Springs gave the Ricebirds the ball back at the Panther 27, and three plays later Melynchuck rushed 11 yards for the score to make it 6-0 Stuttgart with 23 seconds left in the opening quarter. The 2-point conversion failed.

Heber Springs responded to go up 7-6 on its next drive. A five-play, 42-yard drive was capped off when Buffalo connected with Weston Warden for a 19-yard touchdown pass. Gideon Tate added the PAT kick with 7:05 left in the half.

An 11-yard touchdown run by Melynchuck with 3:22 left in the second quarter put Stuttgart up 12-7. After another interception by the Stuttgart defense, Clark would score on a 10-yard run to put the Ricebirds up 20-7 at the half.

Heber Springs threatened in the third quarter but Buffalo was picked off by Matthew Luster at the Ricebird 3 with 2:43 left in the quarter. Five plays later, Clark would push his way into the end zone to make it 28-7 (after the Ricebirds completed the 2-point conversion on a run by Hammond) with 1:12 left in the third.

The Panthers would add a late score as Buffalo connected with Dalton Yancey on an 18-yard pass with 2:24 left in the contest. Tate added the PAT kick.

Buffalo finished the night 12 of 29 passing for 122 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

The Panthers will look to bounce back on Thursday when they host Central Arkansas Christian at Panther Stadium.

Heber Springs’ Dalton Yancey looks to get past Stuttgart’s Trez Hammond in junior high action Thursday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO