Loter, Eagles still alive for final 5A West berth

Vilonia High School’s Tanner Loter is a member of this year’s 501 Football Team, sponsored by Conway Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Center, Conway Regional Health System and First Security Bank. (Mike Kemp photo)

by Levi Gilbert

It’s just what you’d want in Week 10. Win, and you’re in. 

Those are the exact stakes this week for Faulkner County’s premiere football rivalry — Greenbrier versus Vilonia in the battle for the First Service Cup. 

For Vilonia senior Tanner Loter, upsetting Greenbrier to earn a berth to the playoffs would mean the world. 

“It’s something we grow up talking about and we always have on our minds when we compete against each other,” Loter said. “There’s a little extra in everyone’s tank the entire week. The bragging rights are big to each community. I’ve been competing in football against Greenbrier since third grade, and every game is just as important as the last. I want to win this game more than any other game all year.”

In the 5A West, Harrison has locked up the No. 1 seed. Three teams — Morrilton, Greenbrier and Alma — sit at 4-2 in conference play. Vilonia, with its win over Clarksville last week, moved to 3-3 in 5A West play. With Morrilton and Alma both favored to win this week, a Vilonia win would pull the Eagles even with Greenbrier in conference play and give them the tiebreaker and the fourth and final playoff berth. 

“We have to play a mistake-free game and take advantage of all of their mistakes,” Loter said. “They are a solid team, but I feel like we are, too. As a team and a community we’re all hungry to bring home the First Service Cup.”

Loter, a senior linebacker for Vilonia, was selected to this year’s 501 Football Team — 28 players representing all 11 counties of the 501. The team, sponsored by Conway Ortho and Sports Medicine Center, Conway Regional Health System and First Security Bank, boasts the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field. Loter was nominated by his head coach, Todd Langrell. 

“Tanner is a young man that has worked his way through the ranks on the depth chart,” Langrell wrote in his nomination. “Tanner has shown a tremendous work ethic and attitude throughout his football career. He has a football mentality with high level knowledge of the game. Whether it’s on the field or in the weight room, Tanner leads by example while also motivating his teammates. Tanner is a coach on the field.”

But it’s not just Loter’s leadership on the field that has been valuable for the Eagles. His leadership in the locker room and classroom has earned him an endearing nickname. 

“I have a low tolerance for disrespectful people,” Loter said. “I try to lead by example for my teammates and classmates. I show others how to respect teachers, parents and coaches. I keep our field house, field and locker rooms clean, and I stay as late as needed to get the work complete. I’m not afraid to put in the extra work and make myself and the others around me better. 

“I was given the nickname ‘Mom’ my sophomore year for staying after practice and always picking up for others. I care for my team and classmates, and I want them all to do well. I want all my classmates to feel loved and cared for when they are around me.”

Loter leads the Vilonia Eagles (4-5, 3-3) in the First Service Cup rivalry at Greenbrier at 7 p.m. Friday.

Levi GIlbert
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