Burcham, Panthers ‘focused’ on Vilonia

by Mark Oliver

It’s the game that two 501 communities have looked forward to all year — the Battle for the First Service Bank Cup. For the Greenbrier Panthers, it’s not only a chance to defeat rival Vilonia for the fifth consecutive year, but also a chance to take home a share of the 5A West conference crown.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said senior quarterback Carter Burcham. “This has always been an important game for me, and it’s always a great game no matter what kind of season the teams are having. With a win, we [could] get a share of the conference title, which is important for us as a team. Needless to say, we’re focused on Vilonia.”

Burcham was selected to this year’s 501 Football Team — 26 players representing all 11 counties of the 501. The team, sponsored by First Service Bank and First Security Bank, boasts the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field. Burcham was nominated by his head coach, Randy Tribble.

“Carter has high positive energy every day,” Tribble said. “He has a high football IQ and is a good decision maker. He is quick, mobile and elusive with a strong arm and a quick release. He is a great teammate who understands the game and our offense.”

For this year’s battle, Burcham says that having home-field advantage will be the key for Greenbrier.

“It’s a lot of fun playing at home,” Burcham said. “Everyone always anticipates this game. The community does a great job showing up. The student section is great, too. To win, we’ll need to execute the game plan that our coaches have for us. Despite the rivalry, we have to control our emotions and treat it like every other game. If we play with great effort and do what our coaches ask, we’ll be successful.”

Filled with great memories, Burcham considers 2016 his favorite season as a Panther.

“This year has been a lot of fun for me,” Burcham said. “Starting at quarterback for the first time in high school has been my favorite moment. In our first game against Beebe, I came out, had a good game and had a ton of fun. Our football team is a tight-knit group. We all grew up together, and that has given us a special bond with one another.”

One of Burcham’s biggest football role models is his brother Neal Burcham.

“Some of my favorite memories include going out in the backyard and throwing and catching with Neal,” Burcham said. “I had a blast watching him play for Greenbrier. He was so good here, and he taught me so much about the game over the years.”

In addition to football, Burcham plays basketball for Greenbrier. The senior is a member of FBLA and Chess Club and contributes to the youth group at New Life Church in Greenbrier.

“Carter is a great student who is always willing to help others,” Tribble said. “His positive attitude and energy are contagious. He expects more of himself than of others.”

“One thing I’ve always tried to do is lead by example,” Burcham said. “Work hard and have a positive attitude on and off the field — that’s what I do. I try to go into each day with a smile and a hard work ethic.”

After high school, Burcham hopes to continue his football career on the collegiate level.

“I definitely want to go to college,” Burcham said. “To be able to continue playing football is a huge goal of mine. I’ve been thinking about trying to walk on somewhere. That would be a fun experience for me.”

Greenbrier plays host to Vilonia on Thursday, Nov. 3.