GREENBRIER -— Greenbrier’s football team has made a statement the past two weeks.
Two weeks ago, the Panthers upset Alma, one of the favorites in the 5A-West, 36-33. Friday night, Greenbrier turned up the offense on Morrilton, hanging 56 points on the Devil Dogs, the most points scored on their defense this season. The Panthers racked up 591 yards of total offense on 62 plays, averaging almost a first down per play at 9.5 yards.
The balance that Greenbrier showed the past two weeks also showed how potent coach Randy Tribble’s spread offense can be. The Panthers finished with 332 yards through the air and had 259 on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Neal Burcham was in rhythm completing 21 of his 34 passing attempts for 330 yards and three touchdowns in the 56-33 victory.
Hunter Winston’s record-setting night included six touchdowns in a game, four of which came on the ground and two by receiving. The junior tailback carried the ball 15 times for 186 yards and caught nine passes for 141 yards.
"I would like to thank my offensive line, first of all," Winston said. "I just did what I had to do for the team. Everybody played hard and we wanted to win. The holes were there, so all I had to do was make sure that I got through them."
For the second week in a row, Burcham threw for more than 300 yards, moving him closer to breaking the school’s single-season passing record.
"We knew that we needed to win this game, and I tried to do everything that I could to help the team," Burcham said. "The line gave me the time and the guys were able to make plays once they got the ball."
Greenbrier was able to stay ahead of the chains for most of the night. Whenever the Panthers were in a third-down situation, they were able to convert half of the time, going four of eight.
The Panthers’ 4-1 conference record gives them the edge for second place in the league for playoff seeding, since they beat Alma head-to-head. Greenbrier is in an unfamiliar position by being able to control its destiny. The Panthers have to go to the banks of Crooked Creek to play against an improved Harrison squad Friday night. The following week, Greenbrier has its big season-ending game with county rival Vilonia for the Judge’s Cup.
"We’re where we want to be right now," Tribble said. "We have to now turn our focus to Harrison starting on Monday. We can’t look ahead. We have to take it one game at a time."
Burcham also finished with his best rushing performance of the year. He had 61 yards on four carries, which included a 40-yard touchdown run. Greenbrier’s Tyler Hardee went over 100 yards receiving again after hauling in four passes for 105 yards.
For the Panthers, Trent Virden led with 14 tackles, followed by Colt Talley (nine) and Zac Perry (eight). Both Justin Head and Matt Cain had seven tackles apiece.