Brown, Panthers focus on ‘finishing’

by Mark Oliver

As Greenbrier cruises toward the Class 5A West finish line, senior receiver/safety Grant Brown isn’t ready for his Panthers career to be over. 

“The end of the regular season is a special time of year for us,” Brown said. “For us seniors, it could be our last chance to play football ever again. I still remember playing with my teammates in fifth grade and beating Morrilton in a game we called ‘The Mud Bowl.’ That was one of my favorite football memories, but something even more special for us would be for all of us to come together and finish with a state championship.”

Brown was selected to this year’s 501 Football Team — 25 players representing all 11 counties of the 501. The team, sponsored by Conway Ortho and Sports Medicine, Conway Regional Health System and First Security Bank, boasts the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field. Brown was nominated by his head coach, Randy Tribble.

“Grant plays with great desire,” Tribble wrote in his nomination. “He has a passion for the game! He encourages others, has great leadership, is very competitive and takes time to help younger players.”

In a season filled with ups and downs for the team, Brown says he’s enjoyed the ride of his final season with the Panthers and says the team is right where it needs to be to accomplish its goals.

“Our theme this year has been to seek righteousness and finish strong,” Brown said. “Last year, we had a good team, but couldn’t finish when it mattered most. This year started out rocky for us, but it has made us better in the long run. Through each game, we’ve grown closer and realized what we had to do to win. Right now, we’re playing more together as a team than we ever have before. We have the talent and the coaching to get us to where we need to be. It’s up to us to put it all together and get the job done.”

In Week 10, Greenbrier (5-4, 4-2) clashes with rival Vilonia in search of their sixth-straight First Service Cup victory over the Eagles. For the Panthers, who can finish anywhere from the 5A West’s second to fourth seeds, it’s a game with major playoff implications. 

“I love the Vilonia rivalry,” Brown said. “No matter where the game is at, everyone comes to see us play, and that’s the best part. The game is always good, and the competition is good for both communities. The key for us will be based around how well we prepare for them. Sure, we’ll get out there and try to fly to the ball and play hard, but being prepared for our opponent is our best chance at success.”

No matter where Greenbrier finishes, Brown says his biggest contribution to the team this year has been his ability to become a better leader — one that he hopes will have a lasting impact on the next generation of Panthers.

“This year, I made it a goal for me to develop good bonds with our younger players,” Brown said. “Each day, I go out there and try to lead by example by being vocal, demonstrating the right things to do on and off the field and growing friendships. By showing them how to represent Greenbrier, they can do the same things when you’re gone.”

“Grant shows leadership in everything he does,” Tribble wrote. “He is a great teammate and cares about others. He has a good attitude and wants every one of his teammates to succeed.”

Off the field, Brown plays baseball and basketball for the Panthers and is a member of EAST, FBLA and Book Club at Greenbrier High School. The senior also serves as school reporter, was recently named Mr. Greenbrier High School and is an avid reader.

“Our school’s librarian, Amber Vint, is the best librarian in the world,” Brown said. “She always comes to me with interesting book selections for Book Club. Our meetings are like parties. She’s awesome and helps us out with anything we need.”

In the community, Brown and four of his teammates operate Lawn Dawgz, a lawn maintenance service in Faulkner County. 

“When we were sophomores, some of us realized that we couldn’t really keep stable jobs due to our busy school schedules,” Brown said.

“Therefore, we got together and started our own lawn service. We mow lawns, work in flower beds and perform any other maintenance that people need. A lot of our clients are actually teachers and people around the school. It’s been a big success for us over the past few years.” 

Greenbrier plays at Vilonia Friday at 7 p.m.