By MARK BURKE

LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER

GREENBRIER — There’s a lot of hype surrounding the Greenbrier football team right now, and quarterback Neal Burcham is right in the center of that.

The senior quarterback has already passed for 6,372 yards and 65 touchdowns in his first two seasons as the Panthers’ signal-caller, and now he’ll be featured even more as Greenbrier is poised to make a strong run toward a 5A-West Conference championship.

"Football is really fun in Greenbrier right now, and we want to keep it that way," Panthers coach Randy Tribble said. "A big part of that has to do with Neal Burcham. He’s a very special player. I don’t know if people really realize that. He’s one of the top quarterbacks in the nation."

That was at least true over the summer, as Burcham was named a co-MVP at the Elite 11 camp in Malibu, Calif. The camp features what the staff sees as the 24 top quarterbacks in the country before cutting the list down to 11.

"We were all elated that he got to go," Tribble said. "It was a wonderful experience."

It can also be described as useful.

"I got to compete with some great players," Burcham said. "It definitely made me a better player. I learned the game more."

With his performance at the Elite 11 camp and potentially what he accomplishes in 2011, Burcham will most likely be getting the attention of college scouts. But Burcham is hoping to not get distracted with that and have his sights on his last year with the Panthers.

"I want to go out and focus on high school and not get overwhelmed with people coming to watch," Burcham said. "I’ve just got to keep working hard and practice and taking each game one game at a time and just be the best I can be."

Burcham has confidence in his teammates as well. They all as a whole are looking toward the season with high expectations.

"I feel like we have the talent around us we need," Burcham said. "(Expectations) are a lot higher than they have been. Guys are really stepping up."