Heber Springs senior lineman Derrik Fisher (6-1, 280) left an impression in the trenches each outing this season, bulldozing opposing defenders from his strong tackle position, while also plugging up the middle on defense, forcing teams to run outside.
Heber Springs senior lineman Derrik Fisher (6-1, 280) left an impression in the trenches each outing this season, bulldozing opposing defenders from his strong tackle position, while also plugging up the middle on defense, forcing teams to run outside. In recognition of his outstanding play, Fisher was recently selected as one of 48 members making up the Class 4A All-State team. After transferring from nearby Rose Bud prior to his sophomore season, Fisher was a staple on the Panthers offensive line. Heber Springs Coach Steve Janski and the Panthers' coaching staff expected Fisher to carry that success over to his junior season but an ACL injury suffered during a summer basketball game forced the tenacious lineman to sit out his junior year. Fisher came back with a strong desire to dominate this season ¬ often taking out multiple defenders on one snap by annihilating his man at the line of scrimmage then reaching the second level, where he tormented linebackers with his quick feet and low pad level. At Southside Batesville, Fisher frustrated the Southerners to the point of having two players ejected for retaliating to his physical play after the whistle. Janski, who led the Panthers to a record of 7-5 this season, including a trip to the state quarterfinals for the third time since taking charge in 2005, said Fisher controlled the strong side of the line. “He ended up being a great offensive lineman for us this year,” said Janski. “He is very physical but I think one thing that separated Derrik from other linemen is that he really enjoyed getting physical. He really enjoyed getting after it. “He had one of the best flat-back blocking techniques that an offensive lineman can have. He had real good technique and great pad level,” added Janski. Fisher also made a big impact on defense, helping shut down Pea Ridge's vaunted running attack with several big stops in the second round of the state playoffs. “He did a great job on defense for not really having anything to build off from his junior year,” said Janski. “He had to wait a year to play the game again and that is tough to be able to bounce back from something like that. But, he did and he ended up having a great year because of it.” Joining Fisher on the All-State team from the 2-4A Conference, lineman Anthony Johnson of Pine Bluff Dollarway, running back Jeremiah Young of Pine Bluff Dollarway, running back Kristen Crite of Newport, running back Carl Turner of Newport, quarterback Dontrell Brown of Stuttgart, lineman Chris Hooks of Stuttgart and linebacker Waymon Johnson of Stuttgart. Ligon Snubbed Last season Heber Springs won the 2-4A Conference championship with a perfect league mark and garnered two All-State performers in quarterback Michael Ludwig and offensive tackle Andrew Davis. The Panthers nearly landed two this year, however, senior utility back Clint Ligon (6-1, 175) missed out by one vote. Janski said he is upset about Ligon not making All-State, an honor determined by votes from head coaches within the league. In 12 games, Ligon ran 59 times for 492 yards and 11 touchdowns, while pulling down 51 receptions for 931 yards and seven scores for a total of 1,423 yards and 18 TDs. Ligon also returned a punt 58 yards for a touchdown and he played safety on defense when called upon. Defensively, Ligon contributed 27 tackles, plus an interception. “I am very disappointed that Clint didn't get it,” said Janski. “I am really upset about that but I can't control it. All I can do is fight for them. Derrik was well-deserving but I also thought that Clint was well-deserving.” The end result of All-State voting can be deceiving considering some conferences are much weaker than others. For instance, Ligon is better than over half of the elite players in the 8-4A Conference, which finished with a playoff record of 2-5 with Warren picking up the only two victories. In comparison, Heber's 2-4A Conference finished 8-4 in postseason with Newport and Pine Bluff Dollarway each winning one playoff game, the Panthers winning two and state-champion Stuttgart winning all four of its games on the way to a state championship. Janski said the overall depth of this year's conference hurt Ligon in the voting. “Any other year Clint Ligon would have been All-State,” said Janski. “He actually missed it by one vote so it was a tough thing to swallow at the time and I have been upset about it for awhile but one thing about Clint is he doesn't get into those things. “He has a bright future in track and he is going to get All-State in track for sure so he is going to be okay but I really felt he deserved it,” added Janski.