Two CCS players sign letters

by Sonja J. Keith

It was a day of celebration and opportunity at Conway Christian High School on Wednesday as two students signed letters of intent to play college football.

In a ceremony in front of the school student body and with family and friends in attendance, quarterback Tanner Stevenson committed to the University of Central Arkansas and wide receiver Andrew Dather signed to play for Harding University.

The signings cap off a great year for both young men and great careers at Conway Christian, according to Coach Michael Carter.

“Today is a huge day for us,” he said. “It’s a tribute to the program and their hard work.”

Speaking before the student body, Carter said the ceremony represented “a day of opportunity” for other students who have aspirations of playing college athletics. He encouraged all students to take advantage of the academic and athletic programs provided at Conway Christian. “I pray your day comes as well.”

Carter said the hard work of both athletes had paid off and is a testament that “you don’t have to be at a big school to play” after high school.

In addition to the schools they signed with, several other schools had approached Stevenson (Ouachita Baptist University, Arkansas Tech and Arkansas State University) and Dather (University of Arkansas at Monticello and Arkansas State University). He said Stevenson was expected to commit to Arkansas Tech but changed his mind over the weekend to UCA. “He fell in love with it over there,” Carter said.

Carter said in his 20-plus years of coaching that Dather “is probably the best athlete I’ve ever coached.” He shared that in the last two years the wide receiver had recorded 2,700 yards and 68 touchdowns (51 receiving and 17 rushing). “That’s huge.”

The coach also shared statistics for Tanner, whom he described as having the highest character among all the athletes he has coached. “These numbers are phenomenal.” He threw for 5,564 yards and rushed for 1,401 yards, recording 87 touchdowns.

Carter described both players as having outstanding character – a trait that is at the top of the list of questions that college coaches ask. “If I cannot answer that question, I tell them to move on down the road,” he said. “Their character is out of the charts.”

“I’m like a proud dad today. The hard work they put in paid off,” Carter said. “I’m very proud of the people they are as well as their abilities.”

Stevenson was selected in 2011 for the inaugural 501 Football team which is comprised of players recognized for their contributions on and off the field. He is the second player from the 2011 team to play for UCA.

Dillion Winfrey of Bryant joined the UCA Bears last year.

Tanner is a son of Todd and Libby Stevenson. He has two siblings – Beau and Mary Faith.

Andrew is a son of Lori and Darren Dather. He has six siblings – Caleb, Lyndi, Katie, Alexi, Jesse and Emily. With both committing to schools in the 501, Carter said Eagle fans will have an opportunity to watch them play on the next level. “It’s a special day, a proud day.”