501 Football 2021

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EDITOR Stefanie W. Brazile PUBLISHER/ART DIRECTOR Jeremy Higginbotham FOUNDERS Donna Spears and Sonja J. Keith SPORTS AND DIGITAL DIRECTOR Levi Gilbert COPY EDITORS Jordan Hickey BRAND AMBASSADOR Donald Brazile PHOTO DIRECTOR Mike Kemp FINANCE DIRECTOR Debbie Flowers ADVERTISING SALES Donna Spears

There have been many challenges over the past year, but we know that on Friday nights all over central Arkansas you’ll see stadium lights spotlighting the fierce competition between our amazing football teams. 501 LIFE Magazine is proud to present our 11th Annual 501 Football Team! Nominated by their coaches, these 23 players are noteworthy because of their character, willingness to help others, and outstanding sportsmanship. Our talented writers and photographer

have put together bios on each player that you’ll enjoy reading in the pages that follow and on our website 501lifemag.com. Also, we appreciate Conway Christian High School for providing the location for this year’s photoshoot. 501 LIFE joins the hundreds of fans, parents, coaches, players, cheerleaders, dance teams and bands who are excited about the season – and we wish you all good luck!

CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Oliver

CONTRIBUTOR

Levi Gilbert

501 LIFE is published monthly by Make the Jump Media, LLC (920 Locust Ave., Suite 104, Conway, AR 72034, 501.327.1501) owned by Jeremy Higginbotham and Stefanie W. Brazile. The contents of 501 LIFE are copyrighted and materials presented may not be copied or reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the publishers. Articles should not be considered specific advice, as individual circumstances vary. Products and services advertised are not necessarily endorsed by 501 LIFE.

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Harding Academy

ANDREW MILLER

Miller, Harding Academy aim for three-peat Andrew Miller and his fellow seniors at Harding Academy have the chance to do something pretty rare in the nation — winning three straight high school football championships. Last fall as a junior, Miller carried the ball 161 times for 1,347 yards and 26 touchdowns. The running back also hauled in 38 receptions for 462 yards and nine scores. He led the state in total touchdowns from scrimmage. This year, the senior team captain knows what lies ahead, and the goal is to reach the top one final time. “Winning back-to-back state championships with my team, cousins, and brother has made for great memories,” Miller said. “I simply want to be a good teammate this year and help my team go undefeated, win conference and then win the state championship.” If Miller can match last year’s production, Harding Academy will no

doubt be right back in the thick of it. “Andrew has a very good combination of strength and speed, great hands out of the backfield; he’s coachable, his effort is never in question and he’s risen to the occasion every time we've needed him,” said Harding Academy Head Coach Neil Evans. “He’s had a strong desire to improve his game in the offseason. He’s very appreciative of his offensive linemen and deflects the praise he is given.” Miller also competes in basketball and track for the Wildcats. He has accepted a scholarship to continue playing football at the next level at Harding University. ANDREW PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Bismarck

BRADEN EFIRD

Efird, Lions ready to win After reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2014, the Bismarck Lions look ahead to a new season with a hunger for more. “My favorite football memory was playing in my first playoff game against  McGhee because it's been several years since Bismarck has gone to the playoffs,” senior receiver/defensive back Braden Efird said. “This season, our team goal is not only to make the playoffs but to win a playoff game. The players will have to buy in on what the coaches are teaching us and work as a team.” Amid the challenging Class 5-3A conference, the Lions plan to utilize their senior leadership and their strengthened defensive core to turn heads this season. “Braden is fast, shifty and understands the game as well as any,” said Bismarck Head Coach D.J. Keithley. “Last year, he was one of our leading tacklers on defense as well as one of our leading 8 I 501 LIFE Football 2021

receivers. He’s not very big, but he will surprise you with how explosive he can be. I expect much of the same this season, with even greater numbers.” As Bismarck’s leading tackler and receiver in 2020, Efird is committed to whatever it takes to help his team win. “My personal goals this year are to make all-conference for the second year in a row and to make all-state,” Efird said. “As a senior, I want to be remembered on the field as a leader, a good teammate and a player that my coaches can trust.” BRADEN PROUDLY SPONSORED BY


Malvern

BRAYLON WATSON

Leadership guides Leopards After falling to eventual state champion Shiloh Christian in the playoffs, Malvern has spent the offseason focusing on getting stronger — not only in the weight room, but also as leaders. With a clean slate ahead, the Leopards believe that they have what it takes to make a deep playoff run in 2021. Leading the leap is two-way senior Braylon Watson. After an impressive junior year, which included contributions at running back and receiver, the all-conference senior figures to be a key piece of Malvern’s defensive game plan at defensive back this season. “Braylon is like having a coach on both sides of the ball,” said Malvern Head Coach J.D. Plumlee. “As our field general this season, we expect him to make plays all year for us on both sides of the ball.” The Leopards believe that in order

to be successful on the field, one must first be successful in the classroom. Watson leads by example by excelling at both. “Braylon is loved by all his teammates and teachers,” Plumlee said. “He shows up every day and works. Off the field, he is in my leadership class and is an FCA huddle leader. He is enrolled in Advanced Placement classes and is a 4.0 GPA student.” When he’s not shining under the Friday night lights, Watson enjoys giving back to the community he calls home. BRAYLON PROUDLY SPONSORED BY


Benton

CAIN SIMMONS

Simmons anchors Benton defense Benton continues to be in the upper echelon of 6A football, and senior Cain Simmons has become the cornerstone of the Panther defense. “He’s one of the hardest-working players I have ever coached,” said Benton Head Coach Brad Harris. “He is a great competitor and one of the best tacklers I have ever coached. His daily work ethic is as good off the field as it is on the field, regardless if it is in the weight room or conditioning.” In his junior campaign last fall, Simmons racked up 102 total tackles, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and broke up eight pass attempts. On top of all that, he served on special teams in punt and kickoff coverage as well as returning kicks and punts. The Panthers finished 5-2 in 6A West play to earn a playoff berth.

“Cain will be our defensive leader and captain this year,” Harris said. “He will be a three-year starter as a senior. We expect Cain to be an all-state caliber player this year and be the guy that gets our defense going each week. “Cain is just a great kid that has great work ethic and always a great attitude about football, but more importantly about life. He will be very successful in life because of his work ethic, attitude and toughness.” Off the field, Simmons volunteers in the Benton Ralph Bunche Back-toSchool event and volunteers at the annual golf tournament. He boasts a 3.8 GPA “His loyalty is one trait that makes him such a good classmate and friend,” Harris said.

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Maumelle

CALEB STROUD

Stroud leading dominant Maumelle o-line Entering his senior season, the goals are clear for Maumelle’s Caleb Stroud. “We want to be state champions in 5A. Playing as a team can get us there,” Stroud said. “I want to play as best as I can and receive a football scholarship.” The 6-foot-7, 300-pound offensive lineman started every game in his junior campaign for the Maumelle Hornets after sitting out his entire sophomore year with a broken foot. The Hornets finished 2020 with a 6-3 overall record (3-1 in the 5A Central), beating Nettleton in the first round of the playoffs before falling to Wynne. Maumelle’s only 5A Central loss (albeit in a shortened conference schedule due to COVID-19) came against Little Rock Christian, one of the eventual 5A state championship game contestants. “Caleb’s best attributes are his size, effort, coachability, work ethic and kind heart,” said Maumelle Head Coach Kirk Norton. “He is empathetic 10 I 501 LIFE Football 2021

and genuinely wants everyone to do well. He participates in our volunteer groups, especially with youth football. We expect Caleb to play at a high level this year, ensuring our offensive line is dominant.” In addition to playing on the gridiron for the Maumelle Hornets, Stroud also serves as the manager for the varsity basketball team. He learned his work ethic and receives motivation from an important figure in his life. “My dad — it’s been just us since my mother died,” Stroud said. “And he has pushed me to be the best I can be.” CALEB PROUDLY SPONSORED BY


Bald Knob

COLBE MCBRIDE

Bulldogs bring the bark and bite With a new head coach and renewed optimism in its football program, Bald Knob plans to be the top dog in the Class 2-4A conference this season. After spending the summer in the weight room, the Bulldogs aim to outmuscle their opponents on the gridiron this fall. “I believe my team can run up the state championship this year,” senior lineman Colbe McBride said. “Our new head coach has us shredding in the weight room.” “Colbe has great character and integrity and you can always count on him to do the right thing,” said Bald Knob Head Coach Lonnie Roberson. “He is also a very good teammate and leads in a positive way. Colbe also works hard in all drills and practice periods during the season. In the weight room, he holds the highest maxes in squats (490 lbs) and bench press (325 lbs).” With one final season in a Bulldogs

uniform, McBride plans to go all out to get his team to the top. “We, as a staff, expect Colbe to be a leader on our offensive line and to be a huge impact in both our running and passing game,” Roberson said. “Colbe will also be a vocal leader for the team and help to mentor our incoming freshmen.” “I have been playing football since third grade,” McBride said. “This season, my personal goals are to eliminate laziness on every single play, become a complete menace to my opponents and enjoy my last year with my brothers.” COLBE PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

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Poyen

COLTON LOWE

Indians in the hunt for 2A title Hot off its best season in school history, Poyen aims for new heights in 2021. “My favorite football memory was coming home from beating Dierks in the playoffs and seeing the whole town there honking their horns and flashing their lights,” senior quarterback/ linebacker Colton Lowe said. “They were so proud of us.” After a close loss in the Class 2A quarterfinals, Lowe and the Indians understand what is required to reach the next level. “Our goals this season are to set new Poyen records and finally bring home a state title,” Lowe said. “The only way to get this is to put in 100-percent effort during the offseason and to never be satisfied.” “Colton is a leader — not always by being vocal, but by his actions,” said Poyen Head Coach Vick Barrett. “He is an outstanding man who is always prepared for Friday nights and is as

tough as they come.” One game at a time, look for Lowe to lead his team to victory on both sides of the ball. “My personal goal this season is to get my name out there to get a scholarship to play at the next level,” Lowe said. “This season, I expect Colton to be Colton,” Barrett said. “He is a great player. He will expect more from himself than anyone else on the field. There is no doubt in my mind that he will lead our team. He will do his job and make everyone else around him better.” COLTON PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Vilonia

ETHAN CASH

‘Toughness’ Sparks Eagles in 2021 After falling short of their goals in 2020, the Vilonia Eagles return to the gridiron this fall with renewed focus on toughness — both mental and physical. “Our goal this season is the same as every other team — to win it all,” senior linebacker Ethan Cash said. “This season, I want to break records and be a great leader for the upcoming classes.” “Ethan is a hard-nosed, tough football player that loves contact,” said Vilonia Head Coach Todd Langrell . “He was crucial in our ability to stop the run game, ending the season with 130 tackles. He is a strong, athletic player and uses those tools to put himself in a position to make plays. “This season, we expect Ethan to be one of our team’s leaders. He is going to bring a physical mindset that should make him one of the toughest defenders in the conference. He gives a spark that can really get a team going.” An all-conference selection in 2020,

Cash has carried his desire to succeed with him since his youth and hopes to leave his mark on Vilonia in his final season. “I want to be remembered as the most coachable player,” Cash said. “I’ve been playing football since I was in third grade and I’ll never forget the insane energy in the locker room after big wins. My dad has always been my biggest inspiration. He has the best work ethic and is the hardest working man I know.” ETHAN PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

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Mayflower

GABE MORRIS

Mayflower's Morris excels on and off field After two consecutive seasons with just two wins, Gabe Morris is ready to help turn the tide for the Mayflower Eagles. The senior will do it the only way he knows how. “Gabe is one of the hardest workers on the team,” said Mayflower Head Coach Austin Emerson. “Guys look up to his hard-work mentality.” Morris, a running back/linebacker for the Eagles, has set his 2021 goals on both immediate and long-term successes for Mayflower. “I want to become a better leader that everyone looks up to, become faster as a player, get stronger in the weight room and motivate my teammates to become better,” Morris said. “We want to build up our program for the next generations while improving ourselves as young men.” Morris also competes in track for the

Eagles and plays drums in the band. “We can put Gabe anywhere and he knows what to do,” Emerson said. “He is athletic enough to play multiple spots, and he gets everyone else in the right spots. He is a model citizen in the hallways, and he also takes all of the hard classes we offer and excels in them. “Gabe will have to help carry the load on both sides of the ball. He is like having a coach on the field. I expect him to rush for a ton of yards on offense and be one of our leading tacklers on defense like he was a year ago.” GABE PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Perryville

GARRETT FARNAM

Farnam ready to lead for postseason success Garrett Farnam and the Perryville Mustangs have made the playoffs the past two seasons, but one thing has remained elusive. Farnam is working to put an end to that in 2021. “It has been a while since our team has won a playoff game, so that is first on our agenda,” Farnam said. “We plan to go deep into the playoffs this season, so we will work hard to get to that point.” As a junior last season, Farnam started all 11 games at left guard, earning allstate and all-conference honors. “Garrett is a strong, physical presence in the middle of our offensive line,” said Perryville Head Coach Chris Norton. “He'll enter his senior year with 21 career starts under his belt and is a leader for our program. He is one of the strongest student-athletes we have at Perryville, and that strength shows up along our offensive line. He is a high-effort, highintensity guy. Garrett currently has a 4.0 GPA and a 27 on his ACT. He is an intelligent young man who is driven to succeed post-high school. 14 I 501 LIFE Football 2021

“I expect Garrett to put together an all-state caliber season as a senior. He will anchor our offensive line and will lead one of the most experienced Perryville teams in years. We've already fielded several calls from college coaches on Garrett, and I believe he will continue his high level of play on the college level after another outstanding season.” Farnam also participates in Beta Club, Future Business Leaders of America, and Film Club at Perryville High School. GARRETT PROUDLY SPONSORED BY


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Clinton

JACOB HUTTO

Hutto leads on both sides of the ball for Clinton The move up to 4A proved to be a bumpy transition for the Clinton Yellowjackets, but a 2-9 season has left senior Jacob Hutto with a maniacal level of motivation. “My personal goal for this season is to be the most intense and prepared, mentally and physically, person on the field,” Hutto said. “Stats are cool, but at the end of the day, I want to play to the best of my ability, fill in, and make plays however my team needs me. We are working to win games, make the playoffs and compete for a state championship. This year, we are a lot more cohesive as a team, and we are working this offseason to make those goals a reality. “I want to be remembered as someone who played every snap with intensity, passion and knowledge of the game.” JACOB PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Hutto was a two-way player for Clinton last fall, finishing second on the team in tackles, second in rushing yards and tied for first in touchdowns scored. “Jacob is a super hard worker and plays at 110 percent every play,” said Clinton Head Coach Chris Dufrene. “And he’s a great young man off the field. He stays busy in the youth group at Calvary Baptist Church.” Hutto also participates in shooting sports at Clinton High School. The Yellowjackets shooting team qualified for state in his junior year. When he’s not competing in athletics for Clinton, Hutto is an avid outdoorsman. “I love to hunt, fish and do other outdoor activities whenever I'm not playing or practicing for sports,” Hutto said.

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Morrilton

JEREMIAH CANADY

Canady persevering for Devil Dogs After enduring a shoulder injury the past two seasons, there’s just no quit in Jeremiah Canady. Last fall, as a junior, Canady battled through the injury to help push Morrilton to the second round of the 5A playoffs. “I want to be remembered as the player who always worked hard and did what needed to be done, while also looking out for his other teammates,” Canady said. Canady’s resiliency has made the senior linebacker a favorite among his Devil Dog teammates. “Jeremiah is fast, works hard and has a great knowledge of our defense,” said Morrilton Head Coach Cody McNabb. “He’s humble, a great teammate and a good person. He will be a good linebacker for us and will carry himself with class.” In addition to football, Canady is also involved in band, Beta Club and Student Council. After high school, he plans

to attend the University of Central Arkansas and pursue chemistry and computer science studies. As he prepares to enter his final season as a Devil Dog, Canady is confident that all the adversity and hard work he’s faced has ultimately been beneficial. “There are going to be many days where football is going to be challenging, almost to the point where you think about quitting,” Canady said. “But I would say, ‘Don’t.’ Because once you reach your senior year, you'll look back at everything you've done, all the games you've played, and all the memories you've made, and realize that it was all worth it.” JEREMIAH PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

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Cutter Morning Star

JONATHAN HARRISON

Eagles move to eight-man football Facing low participation numbers, Cutter Morning Star transitions to eight-man football this fall, where the Eagles project to compete quickly. “My personal goal this season is to play hard and enjoy my last year of high school football,” senior receiver/ defensive back Jonathan Harrison said. “Our team goals are for everyone to cooperate and stay motivated, even if we take a few losses.” “Jonathan’s work ethic, coachability and commitment are his best qualities,” said Cutter Morning Star Head Coach Matt Kinsinger. “He’s fast and fearless and he sticks around every day after practice to be a master of his craft. He is selfless, cares about his teammates’ success and sets a good example.” As a walk-on his sophomore season, Harrison hoped he could be an asset in creating a stronger football culture at Cutter Morning Star. This fall, the senior

leader will have his time to shine. “I hope to be remembered as a team player,” Harrison said. “I couldn’t care less about having the spotlight on me — I want the whole team to feel important and I want to be able to help lift them up when they feel discouraged.” “Jonathan will play a major role in changing our culture and will be an asset on the field in all aspects of the game,” Kinsinger said. “He puts in the work on and off the field, in the weight room and in the classroom, and is a great example of what we expect our players to be.” JONATHAN PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Bigelow

KEENAN HOBBS

Expectations high for Panthers As the 501’s biggest Cinderella story last season, the Bigelow Panthers are ready to prove that last year’s success was no fluke. “We’re looking to go further into the playoffs than we did our previous season,” senior linebacker/receiver Keenan Hobbs said. “We’re working hard in the weight room and on the field to ensure that we play on Thanksgiving weekend this year and win a state championship.” “Keenan is fast, strong and a physical, defensive captain,” said Bigelow Head Coach Luke Starks. “Last season, Keenan led us defensively with 62 tackles and six sacks. This season, he will continue to play on both sides of the ball, continue to be a leader and have high defensive expectations.” From a winless sophomore campaign to an undefeated regular season last year, Hobbs not only helped change the football culture at Bigelow but also grew as a leader in the process. 18 I 501 LIFE Football 2021

“As a sophomore, I probably averaged a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct flag every game,” Hobbs said. “I felt like it gave me a ‘bad boy’ image and I’ve worked hard this past season to erase that image. I want to be remembered as a player with great leadership that always gave his all. This season, I hope to achieve all-conference and all-state honors while showing my leadership on the field.” “Keenan is a hard-working and reliable leader who loves the weight room,” Starks said. “He is a great team player who is always looking to help others.” KEENAN PROUDLY SPONSORED BY


Beebe

LOGAN STEPHENS

Leadership guides Badgers Things are looking up for Beebe this fall. Despite just two wins last year, the Badgers boast a stronger senior class and plan to convert their experience into wins this season. “Our goal this year is to make it far into the playoffs,” senior receiver/linebacker Logan Stephens said. “To do that, I want to be the best team player to help us get there.” “Logan is a tremendous leader for our football team,” said Beebe Head Coach Chris Gunter. “He has a tremendous football IQ and a thorough understanding of our schemes and concepts. He is one of the best pure route runners that I have coached and possesses incredible hands while displaying natural football movements and adjustments.” Beebe will lean heavily on its allconference receiver to put points on the board this season and the coach is confident that he can count on Stephens since he led the team in receptions and receiving yards last season,

“I expect Logan to have his best season this year,” Gunter said. “He has proven to be a viable member of this team as well as a necessity for us to have the success we are striving for.” When he’s not leading his team to victory on the field, Stephens is working to grow the next generation of Badgers football players. “Logan has a competitive drive and an even bigger heart,” Gunter said. “It is typical for me to look up and see him coaching his underclassmen. He sets very high expectations, not only for himself, but for his team as well.” LOGAN PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

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20 I 501 LIFE Football 2021


Conway

MANNY SMITH

Smith ‘dynamic’ on the field, in community For the last two years at Conway High School, Manny Smith has almost certainly been the most dynamic athlete any time he stepped on the field. “The first time I saw Manny play football outside of our city league was in seventh grade against Bryant when he played for Bill Lampe at Simon Middle School,” said Tim Roach, color commentator for Wampus Cat football on Conway Corp. “First snap of the season was a pitch to Manny, and he took it 80 yards to the house and no one even came close to him. He scored on the first snap of a ballgame about five or six times that year. I talked to coach Lampe about those plays, and he said, ‘Well, it's not like they don't know it’s coming, they just can’t do anything about it.’ True story.” Smith earned all-conference honors as a sophomore, and last year, his production accelerated in Conway’s new spread offense. Smith racked up

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all-conference and all-state honors as a junior, aiding the Wampus Cats all the way to the 7A semifinals. “On the field, Manny is a shining example of a leader that is driven by his competitive spirit,” said Conway Head Coach Keith Fimple. “To see your best players be the hardest workers on the field is a shining example of a culture that any team would want.” Off the field, Smith volunteers in community service through leadership classes, assisting with projects at Bethlehem House and participating in Caring Cats at Conway High.

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Greenbrier

NICK HUETT

Huett, Panthers ready for deep 5A run Nick Huett put up an all-state performance for Greenbrier last fall, leading the team in tackles and rushing for 970 yards to help guide the Panthers to the second round of the 5A playoffs. “Being able to return to the playoffs and make it that far after a lot of people doubted us and we had a slow start to the season was a big deal in my eyes,” Huett said. “It also hopefully helped give us the experience we need for a deep playoff run this coming season.” The 2020 Greenbrier Panther MVP has high goals for his senior campaign — 100 tackles and 1,500 rushing yards. “Nick is instinctive on both sides of the ball,” said Greenbrier Head Coach Randy Tribble. “He has great vision as a runner. He’s powerful and aggressive, and he encourages and teaches the young players. “If you had four or five like him, you would be tough to beat.” Entering his senior season, Huett is

ready to leave it all on the field for the Panthers. “We have a very balanced team and a group of guys who have played together for most of their lives, and I think we have a really good chance to win a lot of football games this year and make some statements,” Huett said. “I think with our talent level and coaching that we can be up there competing with anyone else in the state.” Huett also runs track and plays baseball for the Panthers. NICK PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Conway Christian

PAYTON LENTZ

Expectations high for Panthers After enduring a disappointing season in 2020, Payton Lentz and the Conway Christian Eagles are ready to put the past behind them and earn a Friday night W. “We are striving to get better with every snap in practice and in the game,” Lentz said. “We are focusing on the small fundamentals that will allow us to execute with excellence as a team.” Lentz, a senior, started on the offensive line at center for Conway Christian last fall. “Payton is a team player,” said Conway Christian Head Coach Justin Kramer. “He will do whatever is asked without complaining and with relentless effort. “He will be a leader for us on the offensive line and can play any position we need him to. He can play defensive line or linebacker, too. He is very versatile as he is also one of the top five fastest guys on the team.” No matter the need, Lentz is ready 22 I 501 LIFE Football 2021

to serve his teammates and help the Eagles get back to their winning ways. “I had the privilege to grow up watching Conway Christian Eagle football since I was a child, and I really couldn't wait to start playing as part of the team,” Lentz said. “I want to be an encouragement to those coming behind me as so many were for me throughout the years.” Lentz also participates on the CCS bowling team and is a member of Beta Club and Drama Club. He attends Beryl Baptist Church in Vilonia and serves within the youth department. PAYTON PROUDLY SPONSORED BY


If you would like to contribute to our work, please send donations to: Hayden Simpson Suicide Prevention and Awareness Fund Greenbrier High School 72 Greenvalley Dr. • Greenbrier, AR 72058 Or you may call the office at 501-679-4236 for more information. Football 2021 501lifemag.com I 23


Hot Springs

PIERCE SMALLEY

Talent, chemistry paces Trojans Don’t let their 2020 record fool you — Hot Springs has the right pieces in place to compete with the best of the best in the 501. With four losses to high-level competition and three games cancelled due to COVID-19, the Trojans are excited for a clean slate in 2021 and a chance to turn the page. “We want to not just make the playoffs, but make a deep run in the playoffs,” said senior defensive back/ running back Pierce Smalley. “We have the talent and the team chemistry. We just can’t beat ourselves when it comes to it.” “Pierce is a pure playmaker with the football IQ of a coach,” said Hot Springs Head Coach Darrell Burnett. “With a 4.1 GPA and a 23 ACT score, he is the model for how a student-athlete should look like as well as handle themselves. This season, we expect Pierce to help lead us to a playoff run as a leader of our defense.” For Smalley, success starts with

leading by example. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and when I don’t perform to my liking, I tend to get down on myself and get frustrated,” he said. “I want to be the person you remember from the game. When you leave the game, the one name you should remember is Pierce Smalley.” “Everyone that Pierce contacts changes for the better,” Burnett said. “He helps out in many ways and will lead others to become better people before they become better athletes.” PIERCE PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Hot Springs Lakeside

STEVEN CUMMINS

5A title within reach for Rams After reaching the Class 5A quarterfinals last season, Hot Springs Lakeside believes it has what it takes to win it all in 2021. Led by senior lineman Steven Cummins, the Rams rely on a stingy defensive core to win games and have only gotten stronger in the offseason. Offensively, the team boasts some of the most explosive skill players in the 501. “This season, my goal is to be a leader for my team and get a state championship ring,” Cummins said. “We want to win a state championship. It has never been done at Lakeside. We’re going to bust our butts every time we step on the field and in the weight room, and the seniors will be leaders for the young pups.” “Steven leads by example and is not afraid to demand that his teammates fall in line,” said Lakeside Head Coach Jared McBride. “He is a hard worker that is motivated to do his best on every 24 I 501 LIFE Football 2021

play. He is coachable and always wants to win.” To write school history this season, Cummins understands what he must do — not only as a playmaker, but as a leader. “This season, I want to be remembered as a guy who leads by example, gives 110 percent every play and picks his teammates up when times are rough, on and off the field,” Cummins said. “Steven was an all-conference player as a sophomore and an all-state player as a junior,” McBride said. “We expect big things from him this year.” PIERCE PROUDLY SPONSORED BY


Central Arkansas Christian

TYLER WILLIAMS

Mustangs continue to improve An 8-0 start and a second-place finish in the Class 4-2A conference were two of Central Arkansas Christian’s biggest accomplishments in 2020. With consistent improvement over the past three seasons, the sky is the limit for the Mustangs in 2021. “Our team goals this season are to win a playoff game and to get better each day as individuals and as a team,” senior quarterback Tyler Williams said. “[In my final season], I want to be remembered as a great teammate that always kept teammates laughing — someone that led by example and had a great work ethic.” This season, the Mustangs are confident that hard work and team chemistry can propel the team to a conference championship. “Tyler is a playmaker,” said CAC Head Coach Tommy Shoemaker. “He is an explosive runner who runs through tackles. He is a humble young man who gets along well with everyone and is a

very hard worker.” As the team’s leading rusher last season, Williams figures to remain a catalyst in CAC’s offensive game plan, which averaged 30.5 points per game last season. “Last year, I tied Joe Adams’ singleseason touchdown record,” Williams said. “This season, I want to beat it. I also want to reach 200 pounds.” “Tyler has worked very hard on and off the field to give himself an opportunity to play at the next level,” Shoemaker said. “I expect him to have an outstanding season and to have an opportunity to play college football.” TYLER PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Quitman

WILLIAM LITTON

Litton, Bulldogs primed for big season The Quitman Bulldogs won their first ever playoff game in 2020, and quarterback William Litton played a big role in that history. And it wasn’t the only history Litton made in 2020. Litton broke several single-season school records, including passing touchdowns, total touchdowns (42) and rushing yards. He also set singlegame records for total yards (448) and passing yards. In addition to all that offense, he recorded 162 tackles at linebacker. “His awareness and understanding of the game and his arm strength are the best I’ve ever been around,” said Quitman Head Coach DJ Marrs. “He carries the same work ethic into everything he does. He’s a natural leader, and people want to follow him.” Litton, a senior, is a big-time playmaker, and he refuses to let anything slow him down. “I have been faced with many adversities and challenges over the years,” Litton said. “My biggest

challenge would be maintaining diabetes while being a multisport athlete. However, just like all the other obstacles thrown in my way, I have managed it and not let it dictate my life and goals. “I want to be remembered as the guy who played the game the right way, was a student of the game, a true natural leader, and one who helped those around him excel and be the best version of themselves.” In addition to being an all-conference performer in football, he’s earned the same honors in baseball and track. He also volunteers by helping coach a local pee wee football team. WILLIAM PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

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Lake Hamilton

ZACH ROBERTS

Wolves seek revenge

A heartbreaking loss in the Class 6A title game left Lake Hamilton hungry for more in 2021. The Wolves project to be back in the hunt for a championship this season and are prepared to pull out all stops to take the crown. “Making it to War Memorial Stadium was my favorite football memory I’ve made, by far,” senior defensive end Zach Roberts said. “The adrenaline rush when the lights hit you, plus being around all your brothers, is the most satisfying feeling you could ever imagine.” Returning to the big dance isn’t always easy — it requires unrivaled grit and tenacity. Roberts says that losing the big game has only motivated the team to work harder, and he and his gridiron brothers are ready to rise to the challenge this season. “Our team’s goal is to be [undefeated] like the ’72 Dolphins,” Roberts said. “We will achieve this goal by working

10 times harder than whoever is against us. I want to win and do as much as I can for my teammates. By being one of the most consistent players on the field, my brothers will know that when I am out there, the job will be done.” “Zach works harder than anyone else on the team,” said Lake Hamilton Head Coach Tommy Gilleran. “He started every game at defensive end last season, is always helping others and is an all-around great kid. I expect him to be an all-conference player this year.” STEVEN PROUDLY SPONSORED BY

Paid for by Quitman School District

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