Panthers wrap up spring practice, head into summer

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

What a difference one year makes for head coach Todd Wood and the Heber Springs Panther football team.

After surviving the trials of COVID-19 and a 2-9 record during the 2020 season, Wood and the Panthers completed their first spring practice and head into the 2021 season with high hopes.

“We worked out three times a week, and Tuesdays and Thursdays were learning days,” Wood said. “The players remembered what they learned last year, and we tried to build on that. We fine-tuned what we learned. One of our goals was to put players in the right position on offense and defense going into fall practice.”

Wood said the year of experience helped he and his staff to learn more about players’ skill level.

“I made the defensive calls during previous years and needed time to learn in calling the plays for the offense,” he said. “I’m not where I want to be, but farther ahead for next season. The best part is is we have a better idea where each player should be on offense and defense.”

One of the team’s questions going into next season will be developing a new starting quarterback. Matthew Cook, who has graduated, moved into that role beginning with the third game last season.

Sophomore Xander Lindley, junior Wyatt Winchester and senior John McBroome took most of the snaps during spring drills.

“McBroom (who started the first two games last season) is back,” Wood said. “He has been working on improving his footwork and increased his speed, so he can escape out of the pocket and throw on the run. We are working with him to read defenses and where to throw the ball.”

Winchester worked at quarterback last year, but he had limited game action.

“He (Winchester) has the strongest arm of the three players,” Wood said. “He needs to work on his footwork and being more of a mobile quarterback, plus read defenses better.”

Lindley, who was on last year’s junior high school team, has limited experience.

“He has a good arm, very mobile, reads defenses well and throws to the right receiver,” Wood said. “He will get a strong look because of his mobility. We hope to have a starter in place by our preseason scrimmage (at Beebe on Aug. 17).”

Jackson West is the leading candidate to start at running back.

“He was the backup last year,” Wood said. “We like him at receiver with his height and good hands. Parker Brown also has good hands, along with a lot of speed (4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash). Parker also is a possibility at running back, along with Gideon Tate.”

The Panthers also have experience back at receiver with Gus Hannah, Easton Cusick and West. Brown, Austin Winchester and Dalton Yancey also are candidates.

“Gus will be one of our quicker receivers and a primary target,” Wood said. “Easton has worked hard during the offseason to build his body up and increase his speed. Gus and Easton will be our mainstays. Austin had a good spring and is a big target for the underneath passes. I feel good about our receivers.”

Chris Edwards, a projected starter at cornerback, could see action at receiver.

Three starters return on the offensive line — tackle Thad Bray, center Zach Thomas and guard Peyton Owens. Tripp Young is a projected starter at the other guard with the other tackle spot  undetermined.

“We were able to get into the weight room and steadily increased our maximum lifts during the spring,” Wood said. “The players gained weight, and we should be OK on the line.”

Wood said Lucas Langster, who is projected as a starter on the defensive line, and Corbin Jones could play on the offensive line.

Wood liked the defense’s progress and hopes few players will have to go both ways.

“I’m happy with the defense, particularly in the secondary,” he said. “We will have two new linebackers. We will do more fine-tuning going into fall practice.”

Wood said the goal is to have as few players as possible playing on offense and defense fulltime.

“We may go with players who you didn’t see on the field much last year,” he said. “Chris Benton is a big boy and give us more size at nose guard.

Blaze Emerson and Jones also will play with Langster at defensive end. We plan also to rotate guys like Bray, Owens and Young to help with depth.”

Kenan Sneed, last year’s leading tackler, returns at linebacker. Thomas is expected to play at inside linebacker. Hayden Johnson, Hayden Davis, Dakota Farmer, Tate and West are candidates at outside linebacker.

Edwards is the projected starter at one cornerback with the starter undetermined at the other cornerback spot. Gage Buford and Colton Turley are the expected starters at the safeties.

“I liked what I’ve seen in the secondary,” Wood said.

Heber Springs will compete at the Greenbrier 7-on-7 tournament on June 10. The Panthers will be participating in a 7-on-7 event at Carlisle and possibly one more tournament, plus two team camps.

Panthers, Lady Panthers take second at district track meet

The Heber Springs Senior Girls track team pose with the 4A-4 district runner-up trophy. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Heber Springs Lady Panthers and Panthers fell short of their goals at the 4-4A Conference track and field meet, but came away with success.

The Panthers and Lady Panthers were runner-up in their respective divisions with 13 athletes qualifying for the Class 4A state meet in 16 events at Panther Stadium on Wednesday.

Freshman Parker Brown, who received the high-point award at last week’s junior high meet, scored 46 points and won the high-point award at Wednesday’s competition. Brown was the winner of the 100-meter dash, high jump and long jump and finished second in the 200-meter dash and triple jump.

Heber Springs freshman Parker Brown won the high point award the 4A-4 district track meet. Brown had also won the high point award at the 4A-4 junior high district meet on April 21. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

“It was a good day,” Brown said. “I got a personal best in the long jump. Winning the high point again was a surprise.”

Heber Springs head boys’ coach Dale Cresswell said Brown’s performance was not a surprise to him.

“Parker is one of those athletes born with a lot of athletic abilty,” Cresswell said. “I knew he would score points.”

Kevin King was the other Panther who qualified in multi-events. King won the 200-meter dash and finished third in the 100-meter dash and the triple jump.
Nathan Poff claimed third place in the 1600-meter run and qualified for the state meet.

The Panthers scored 154.50 points, 18.50 points behind conference champion Ozark.

“It is always good to have a lot of personal bests and good performances,” Cresswell said. “We did well. The distance races were the main difference. Poff had a personal best in the 1600. We are working to become better in those events.”

Maygan Jarvis and Rylee Birmingham won multi-events for the Lady Panthers. Jarvis topped the field in the pole vault and discus. Birmingham won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.

Jaylea Hooten, runner-up for the girls’ high-point award, won the high jump and finished third in the long jump, and the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.

The Lady Panthers qualified in three relays for the state meet.

Jarvis, Addison Hudspeth, Natalie Buffalo and Cristina Garcia were third in the 800-meter relay. Natalie Buffalo, Jarvis, Garcia and Birmingham finished second in the 1600-meter relay. Riley Bailey, Allison Wildman, Sydney Buffalo and Vallie Cantrell were runner-up in the 3200-meter relay.

The Lady Panthers scored 119 points, 30 points behind conference winner Clarksville.

“I’m proud of the girls,” Heber Springs girls’ coach Hunter Davis said. “All you can from them is to give their best. I was pleased with the second-place finish. We had a lot of personal bests. We had good effort and left all out on the track.”

The state meet will be held at Nashville High School on Tuesday.

The Heber Springs senior boys track team pose with the runner-up trophy from the 4A-A district track meet. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

BOYS
Team totals — 1. Ozark 173; 2. Heber Springs 154.50; 3. Dardanelle 120; 4. Clarksville 104; 5. Pottsville 57; 6. Morrilton 54.50; 7. Subiaco Academy 23.
100-meter dash — 1. Parker Brown 11.72; 3. Kevin King 12:02; 6. Gabe Tate 12.25; 11. Bent McClain 12.91.
200-meter dash — 1. Kevin King 23.78; 2. Parker Brown 23.97; 3. Gabe Tate 25.11; 10. Alex Roy 26.23.
400-meter dash — 4. Gabe Tate 57.00; 15. Landon Leisenring 1:02.17; 16. Logan Cox 1:04.49; 20. Remington Bradley 1:08.74.
800-meter run — 4. Nathan Poff 2:17.62; 9. Thomas Spears 2:27.70; 10. Mason Harris 2:27.97; 14. Noah Cordes 2:37.03.
1600-meter run — 3. Nathan Poff 4:59.0; 8. Mason Harris 5:14.82; 11. Noah Cordes 5:22.92; 13. Reagan Buell 5:46.09.
3200-meter run — 5. Mason Harris 12:13.03; 6. Noah Cordes 12:24.26; 7. Reagan Buell 12:32.57; 9. Kevin Leal 13:14.56.
110-meter hurdles — 8. Evan Burgess 23.60.  
300-meter hurdles — 5. Bent McClain 47.71; 9. Judson Ogle 51.32; 12. Nathan Poff 54.74; 13. Evan Burgess 56.61.
400-meter relay — 5. Heber Springs (Colt Allen, Bent McClain, Landon Leisenring, Preston Roberson) 53.98.
800-meter relay — 6. Heber Springs (Colt Allen, Alex Roy, Bent McClain, Preston Roberson), 1:46.44.
1600-meter relay — 6. Heber Springs (Remington Bradley, Landon Leisenring, Logan Cox, Aaron Combs), 4:26.21.
3200-meter relay — 6. Heber Springs (Jonathan Henriquez, Colton Cole, Caleb Bradley, Jaxson Cox), 9:45.35.
High jump — 1. Parker Brown 6-0; 5. Nathan Poff 5-2; 6. Bent McClain 5-0.
Long jump — 1. Parker Brown 21-5; 5. Kevin King 19-4; 10. Nathan Poff 17-0; 15. Colt Allen 14-8.
Triple jump — 2. Parker Brown 40-8.50; 3. Kevin KIng 38-10; 8. Judson Ogle 32-10.25.
Shot put — 5. Preston Roberson 36-3.75; 8. Allen Colt 33-5; 11. Corbin Jones 31-3,75; 13. Tripp Young 29-9.50.
Discus — 5. Corbin Jones 88-1; 6. Alex Roy 88-0; 8. Tripp Young 85-0; 10. Remington Bradley 80-0.
GIRLS
Team totals — 1. Clarksville 149; 2. Heber Springs 119; 3. Ozark 97; 4. Pottsville 73; 5. Morrilton 59; 6. Dardanelle 56.
100-meter dash — 5. Jaylea Hooten 13.66; 10. Natalie Buffalo 14.47; 19. Lili Chaney 15.62.
200-meter dash — 4. Jaylea Hooten 28.20; 7. Natalie Buffalo 29.39; 8. Cristina Garcia 31.07.
400-meter dash — 6. Maygan Jarvis 1:06.65; 11. Cristina Garcia 1:12.52; 12. Lili Chaney 1:12.98.
800-meter run — 7. Vallie Cantrell 2:58.42; 11. Sydney Buffalo 3:01.36; 15. Riley Bailey 3:15.28; 16. Allison Wildman 3:18.26.
1600-meter run — 5. Vallie Cantrell 6:26.40; 8. Sydney Buffalo 6:40.75; 10. Allison Wildman 6:57.91.
3200-meter run — 4. Vallie Cantrell 14:14.70; 7. Sydney Buffalo 15:25.48; 8. Riley Bailey 15:45.14.
100-meter hurdles — 1. Rylee Birmingham 17.91; 3. Jaylea Hooten 18.48; 8. Samantha Gilley 20.33.
300-meter hurdles — 1. Rylee Birmingham 52.95; 3. Jaylea Hooten 55.66; 5. Samantha Gilley 57.43; 8. Maygan Jarvis 58.89.
400-meter relay — 6. Heber Springs (Ava Noble, Eva Jones, Mia Screeton, Lili Chaney), 1:03.78.
800-meter relay — 3. Heber Springs (Maygan Jarvis, Addison Hudspeth, Natalie Buffalo, Cristina Garcia), 2:00.72.
1600-meter relay — 2. Heber Springs (Natalie Buffalo, Maygan Jarvis, Cristina Garcia, Rylee Birmingham), 4:37.21.
3200-meter relay — 2. Heber Springs (Riley Bailey, Allison Wildman, Sydney Buffalo, Vallie Cantrell), 11:25.58.
High jump — 1. Jaylea Hooten 5-3; 9. Vallie Cantrell 4-4.
Pole vault — 1. Maygan Jarvis 9-4; 4. Ava Noble 8-0; 5. Samantha Gilley 7-6.
Long jump — 3. Jaylea Hooten 15-8; 5. Natalie Buffalo 15-5; 11. Addison Hudspeth 14-10; 15. Cristina Garcia 14-7.
Triple jump — 4. Addison Hudspeth 30-4.50; 15. Allison Wildman 24-2.75; 16. Eva Jones 23-8.50; 17. Sydney Buffalo 23-6.
Shot put — 11. Lili Chaney 21-7.50; 12. Miah Tharp 21-6.50; 16. Ava Little 19-6.50; 17. Lily Hendrix, 17-11.
Discus — 1. Maygan Jarvis 79-3; 5. Ava Little 67-10; 7. Miah Tharp 61-8; 16. Lily Hendrix 49-2.

Junior Panthers blank Bald Knob

Heber Springs’ Xander Lindley races toward the end zone against Bald Knob in junior high action at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

October 11, 2019

Xander Lindley rushed for a touchdown and was on the receiving end of another as Heber Springs defeated Bald Knob, 20-0.

Heber Springs improved to 2-4 on the season with the win and will travel to Southside Batesville on Thursday looking for its third consecutive win.

Ryan Bommarito paced the Panthers on the ground with 17 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown, a 2-yard run that put the Panthers up early.

After Heber Springs was forced to punt on its first possession, Conner Riddle picked off a Bald Knob pass attempt and returned it 23 yards to the Panther 43.

From there, Heber Springs marched down the field with a heavy dose of Bommarito on an 11-play drive that ninth-grader capped with a 2-yard run with 2:42 to play in the half. Bommarito carried the ball nine times on the drive. His 2-point run made it 8-0.

Heber Springs got the ball back after Tripp Young forced the Bald Knob ball carrier to cough up the football and Chris Roberts pounced on the ball with 50.2 seconds left in the half at the Bulldog 32.

The ensuing drive appeared to stall at 24 before the Panthers were able to draw Bald Knob offsides on fourth-and-2. On the next play, Riddle connected with Lindley for a 19-yard touchdown with 31.1 seconds in the half. The 2-point conversion failed.

Heber Springs scored its final points of the contest on its first possession of the second half as Lindley took the ball at the Panther 37 and raced 63 yards for the score with 3:14 left in the third quarter.

JUNIOR PANTHER TOUCHDOWN

HEBER SPRINGS COACH CHASE ROBERTS

Roster: Heber Springs Junior High Football

September 5, 2019

The 2019 Heber Springs Junior High Football Roster:

  • 2 – Conner Riddle – 9th
  • 3 – Hunter Warren – 8th
  • 4 – Easton Cusick – 9th
  • 5 – Xander Lindley – 8th
  • 7 – Chandler Webber – 9th
  • 8 – Chris Roberts – 8th
  • 9 – Wyatt Winchester – 9th
  • 10 – Gideon Tate – 8th
  • 12 – Hud Haggard – 8th
  • 13 – Hunter Edwards – 9th
  • 14 – Chris Edwards – 9th
  • 15 – Shawn Doyle – 9th
  • 16 – Cedric Thissen – 8th
  • 17 – Peyton Talbert – 9th
  • 18 – Dalton Yancey – 8th
  • 20 – Colton Turley – 9th
  • 23 – Kenan Sneed – 9th
  • 24 – Bauer Pruitt – 9th
  • 25 – Tasker Singleton – 8th
  • 26 – Jacob Townsend – 9th
  • 28 – Hayden Johnson – 8th
  • 29 – Zachary Parker – 8th
  • 31 – Andrew Dill – 8th
  • 32 – Ryan Bommarito – 9th
  • 34 – Channer Smith – 8th
  • 46 – Joshua Blanchard – 9th
  • 51 – Peyton Oldham – 9th
  • 57 – Braydon McFarland – 8th
  • 58 – Jude Bray – 8th
  • 59 – Kaden Long – 8th
  • 62 – Tyler Yeakley – 9th
  • 63 – Joenah Cordell – 8th
  • 67 – Corbin Jones – 8th
  • 68 – Garrison Brimhall – 9th
  • 70 – Marshall Phillips -8th
  • 76 – Michael Guffey – 9th
  • 77 – Joseph Rose – 9th
  • 78 – Chris Benton – 9th
  • 79 – Tripp Young – 9th