If you want to play quarterback for the Greenbrier Panthers, you better know how to sling it.
In the past five years, the Panthers have racked up guady passing numbers behind the arms of a pair of quarterbacks, both of whom are on college rosters today.
Neal Burcham is a redshirt freshman at Southern Methodist University. His redshirt year came after a torn ACL in week 10 of his senior season in 2011. As a junior, Burcham passed for 3,409 yards and 35 touchdowns, leading Greenbrier to the quarterfinal round of the 5A state playoffs. After his junior year, Burcham was on the college recruiting map after earning all-conference and all-state honors.
ESPN had Burcham listed as the nation’s 20th ranked quarterback and was listed as the state’s ninth best by Rivals.
Meanwhile Seth Peters, who in his only full season as Greenbrier’s starting quarterback let them to an 11-1 record, is now a part of football history. He is the first quarterback, and first player from Faulkner County, to play for the revived and renewed Hendrix Warriors, and his first two games have been impressive as a passer.
He has completed 63 passes in 87 attempts for a total of 669 yards and eight touchdowns against just two interceptions.
The Warriors are 1-1 and are scoring points. They beat Westminster in their opener 46-44 but lost their first road game by three, 35-32 at Birmingham-Southern. Peters engineered a drive in the final 2:14 completing five straight passes including a 12-yard TD pass to Travus McMahan, the second of the second half for the combo. A two-point conversion cut the BSC lead to three, but there just wasn’t enough time on the clock for one more drive.
Enter Will Drewry.
He is a junior quarterback tasked with following in the footsteps of his two previous predecessors. Is there pressure? Panthers’ head coach Randy Tribble said Drewry can look at it two ways.
"Will can see it as pressure to follow in their footsteps," Tribble said, "or he can say, ‘It sure is fun to play quarterback at Greenbrier.’ "
Drewry has done well thus far in his first two games as the Panthers’ starter throwing for a nearly 70 percent completion percentage as well 300-plus yards in each game and throwing eight total touchdown passes against just one pick, a stat that Tribble will take all season if Drewry can consistently perform at that level.
Tribble credits the acumen of his quarterbacks and offensive coordinator Todd Langrell’s system for success.
"We’ve had some talented kids come through here," Tribble said, "but we throw it here. It’s what we do. Todd does an awesome job coaching those guys, preparing those guys. He works with the quarterbacks and is in charge of our offensive system. We coach hard in it and we’ve had a lot of success in it."
The success is directly reflected in wins as the Panthers have notched 38 total victories in four years coming into this season against good competition.
Successful quarterbacks also have to have good receivers and good linemen. Kevin Reynolds, who also plays in the secondary, as well as Gerrell Williamson and Dustin Tims are go-to pass catchers for Greenbrier.
Where they are a bit thin is up front with only one returning starter in junior tackle Sam Colbert.
The Panthers play in a tough 5A-West against the likes of Alma and Shiloh Christian. They also have a habit of playing a pair of 6A teams. They lost to Texarkana on Friday and will take on Benton this week.
"They’ve got a good club," Tribble said of his Friday foe. "They got a good quarterback that can run and throw it."
The Panthers, being the most easterly team in their league have long, tough trips to make every year. This year they go to Huntsville and Shiloh Christian, but Tribble doesn’t offer that as an excuse.
"We still have to play," Tribble said. "We just have to do what we do."
What they do is pass the football. And they do it very well.