Faulkner County Player of the Year named at awards banquet

Photo and story by David Grimes

Herschel Hall in Greenbrier was the setting for the 2021 Faulkner County Player of the Year Award ceremony held Feb. 10. In its third year, the award is sponsored by American Safeguard Insurance and First Security Bank.

During the regular season, a weekly winner was chosen from one of the five football-playing schools in Faulkner County. At the end of the season, coaches from each school nominated a player from their squad they felt was most deserving.

Each school had two members on the selection committee. Fan voting, via social media, helped determine the overall winner, along with input from the 10-person panel. The player who garnered the majority of the 11 votes was deemed Faulkner County Player of the Year.

Christina Munoz Madsen served as the emcee for the evening. The keynote speaker was Nathan Brown, head football coach for the University of Central Arkansas Bears. Brown congratulated each honoree and encouraged the players and the audience with a speech stressing service, respect, and sacrifice. He then announced the winner.

Each of the five nominees received a plaque, while the winner received a championship belt and a customized pullover.

Cooper Wilcox of Greenbrier High School was selected as the 2021 Faulkner County Player of the Year.

Matt Wilcox of First Security Bank (from left), Faulkner County Player of the Year Cooper Wilcox of Greenbrier High School, Jason Smith of American Safeguard Insurance and Coach Nathan Brown of the University of Central Arkansas.

The senior quarterback completed 138 of his 234 passes for 2,449 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also rushed 130 times for 1,013 yards and 19 touchdowns. Overall, he racked up 3,462 total yards and 47 total touchdowns.

A Greenbrier native, Wilcox was a three-year starter for the Panthers. As a senior, he led the Panthers to a perfect 10-0 regular season and the 5A West conference title.

After defeating Maumelle in the opening round of the playoffs, Wilcox suffered an injury early in the Panthers’ second-round victory over Wynne. But Greenbrier prevailed 14-0 to advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2009.

Despite a painful AC joint sprain, Wilcox played the following week against perennial power Pulaski Academy. The Panthers put up a valiant effort, but ultimately fell 38-28 to the eventual state champion Bruins. Greenbrier finished the year at 12-1.

Wilcox was named to the 5A All-State team and has signed to play at the University of Central Oklahoma.

The other nominees were: 

Noah Gailey The junior quarterback from Mayflower completed 76 of 145 passes for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns. He completed 52% of his passes, with a 16.5 yards/reception average. Gailey also ran 73 times for 348 yards and five touchdowns. He amassed 1,605 yards of total offense and 19 total touchdowns for the Eagles.

Ileka Gailey (from left), Trinity and Noah Gailey, Stephanie Keaton and Michael Gailey

Cooper Johnson A junior, he rarely left the field for Conway Christian. Playing multiple positions on offense, he had 108 carries for 535 yards and seven touchdowns to go with 14 catches for 82 receiving yards. He also threw for 11 completions, totaling 120 passing yards. On defense, Johnson amassed 38 tackles, had three interceptions, and forced two fumbles.

Amy (from left), Cooper, Brad and Camille Johnson

Austin Myers The Vilonia senior signal caller completed 70% of his passes, going 232 of 332 passes for 3,291 yards and 45 touchdowns. The Eagles finished 9-2 and as the runner-up in the 5A West to Greenbrier, qualifying for the state playoffs. Myers was named to the 5A All-State team and has signed to play at the University of Central Arkansas.

Troy (from left), Austin, Susan and Bryce Myers

Donovyn Omolo Only a sophomore, the Conway lefty completed 60% of his passes, going 203 of 340 for 2,626 yards with 27 touchdowns. He also carried the ball 58 times for 294 yards and seven touchdowns. He accumulated 2,920 total yards and 34 total touchdowns. Omolo led the Wampus Cats to a 9-3 record and the Class 7A state semifinals.

Elizabeth (from left), Emily, Jakob, Donovyn and Braedyn Omolo and Craig Denton