Morrilton’s Granberry: Adversity makes team ‘stronger’

by Mark Oliver

Forced to forfeit four of its wins due to an ineligible player, Morrilton finds itself battling back into the Class 5A West playoff picture with four regular-season games remaining.

While the unexpected penalty may have forced other teams to fold, the Devil Dogs embrace the challenge as an opportunity to grow stronger.

“We are really impressed by the way our team has handled this adversity,” said Morrilton senior running back/linebacker Lane Granberry. “It has brought us closer together as a team, and we are stronger because of it. All of our goals that we set at the beginning of the year are still out there for the taking. Every Friday night, we try to go out there and win. That’s our main goal. Nothing has changed for us.”

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

“Lane is tough, coachable and loves to play football,” McNabb wrote in his nomination. “He is smart and has great work ethic. He will be an impact player in every game.”

After squeaking past Alma by two points a week ago, the Devil Dogs (1-5, 1-2 5A West) look ahead to the next four weeks with optimism. With the Class 5A playoff picture still developing, Granberry is confident that Morrilton has what it takes to grab a playoff spot.

“It’s unbelievable how close our team has become,” Granberry said. “We play our best every week and have huge support from our community. They’ve been behind us the entire time, and we’re grateful for that. Up next for us is Maumelle, followed by Vilonia, Farmington and Clarksville. We take each game one week at a time. If we come out, play well and stay focused, everything will take care of itself.”

Like many teams in the 501, the Devil Dogs won’t be satisfied with just a playoff spot, but rather a state championship in 2016 — something Granberry experienced as a freshman at Morrilton.

“I’ve played this game a long time, and winning the state championship my freshman year will always be one of my favorite memories,” Granberry said. “That year, I was one of the ninth-graders who got to move up and play with the senior high team. Being a part of that team was a neat experience for me, and it’s something I’d like to experience again.”

Off the field, Granberry is active in Beta Club and volunteers his time giving back to the youth in the community he calls home.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with our peewee football programs,” Granberry said. “From coaching to concessions, I’ve helped out quite a bit.”

Granberry’s hobbies include hunting, fishing and hanging out with teammates Grahm Heidenreich, Corey Ferrell and Sam York.

“My friends and I have been playing since the third grade,” Granberry said. “We grew up throwing the football around the yard. Ten years later, we’re still here playing together after all these years.”

After high school, Granberry plans to attend college in the 501. The senior has already jump-started his college education by taking classes at UACCM.

“I’m undecided on my major right now,” Granberry said. “Business interests me. I’m taking English Composition and College Algebra classes at UACCM right now. I’d like to attend school at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, but we’ll see what happens.”

Morrilton plays at Maumelle on Friday, Oct. 14.