Panthers poised for success under Marquardt's leadership

by Levi Gilbert

Heber Springs’ Chandler Marquardt approaches life and football the same way.

“Grind,” Marquardt said. “Every day you have to get up and have the right mental attitude. Strike the day. Be positive.”

Marquardt, a senior running back and defensive back for the Panthers, has been a pillar of production for Heber Springs the last two seasons.

“Last year he was a two-way player for us offensively and defensively,” Coach David Farr said. “He rushed for 1,000 yards offensively and was a leader in our secondary on defense.”

Farr nominated Marquardt for this year’s 501 Football Team — 24 players representing all 11 counties in the 501. The team boasts the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field.

“On the field, Chandler is a physical runner with great speed,” Farr said. “He has a good vision of the field and is extremely coachable. He is a student of the game and a tireless worker.

“Chandler’s character and work ethic extend past the field. He is a humble young man and strives to be his best in every way. He is an absolute pleasure to be around.”

Marquardt has played football since the fourth grade and has always been a Heber Springs Panther. At running back, he put up big numbers last season in what was mostly a tough year for Heber Springs fans.

“Last year was a little bit of a letdown,” Marquardt said. “But every day we go back to work and work hard. We trust our coaches and each other.”

Marquardt and the Panthers, who finished 2-8 last season, are under new leadership this fall. Farr moved from his defensive coordinator role to head coach.

Chandler Marquardt. (Waren Olmstead photos -

“I’ve got a lot of trust in him,” Marquardt said. “It’s not really a significant change. He was our defensive coordinator, and we still have the same offensive coordinator. Not much change is a good change.”

Farr will be depending on Marquardt in more ways than one in his first year as head coach. He will need Marquardt to lead in all phases for the program.

“I expect Chandler to build on the success that he has had his sophomore and junior years,” Farr said. “He has progressively gotten better each year, and I have no doubt that this season will be no different. He is a devout worker and his advances are a direct correlation to his work ethic.  

“He is an encourager of his teammates on the field. He is humble regardless of a win or loss and is never one to boast or brag. He never complains or downgrades opposing players. He is a leader on our team that always volunteers to help out other teammates. He reaches out to underclassmen and motivates others that are in his class.”

As Marquardt and the Panthers prepare to open the season and battle for a playoff berth out of the 2-4A, he’ll have extra motivation in his final season — preparing for a final push to live his dream of playing college football.  

“It always gives you a drive,” Marquardt said. “Ever since the second grade, I’ve had that goal to play college football.”

And, of course, there’s always that Clinton game to look forward to — a yearly rivalry tradition for the Yellow Jackets and Panthers. This year’s game won’t mean quite as much now that the two squads are in different conferences, but it will still pack the same amount of passion.

“The Clinton rivalry — it’s just kind of got thick roots,” Marquardt said. “It just goes way back. It’s just one of those things.”