Some of the previous Landers Award Winners for the state’s top football player include Darren McFadden, Damien Williams, Peyton Hillis and Tyler Wilson. And now Cabot’s Zach Launius joins that prestigious list.
Launius was named the 2013 Landers Award recipient during a banquet and live broadcast on KATV-Channel 7 on Monday night.
Launius led the Cabot Panthers in rushing this year with 2,009 yards and 34 touchdowns on 277 carries. The Panthers went 12-1, losing to Bentonville in the Class 7A state championship game last month.
"That is an incredible honor that I can’t describe," Launius said. "Those are tremendous NFL stars. I may not be of that caliber a player but it tells me personally that I should be grateful for more than just myself but everyone around me."
Launius was among 13 nominees for the award. They included DJ Brown of Little Rock Catholic, Deion Tidwell of North Little Rock, Jakahari Howell of Arkadelphia, Josh Liddell of Pine Bluff Dollarway, KJ Hill of North Little Rock, Kris Oliver of Arkadelphia, Logan Moragne of Little Rock Central, Tarek Beaugard of Benton, Toney Hawkins of Morrilton, Tyler Colquitt of Pulaski Academy, Juan Day of North Little Rock and Ty Storey of Charleston.
Bo Weddle of Carlisle was the 2013 recipient of the Paul Eells Award.
Launius said he was shocked to win the award but really thankful.
"I’m really grateful for everyone and everything that has got me to this point — my brothers in the field, my friends, family, the town of Cabot, the coaching staff," he said. "It is just a pleasure. I thought I was the least deserving of the other 12 men. I was just grateful to be here as a nominee. It is just something else."
Launius said when Steve Sullivan called his name as the winner he said he thought maybe it was for first runner-up.
"I was kind of shocked … maybe that wasn’t my name," he said. "I still can’t believe but I’m very grateful. I’m glad to give all the glory to God and everyone whom I’m played with and everyone who got me to this point."
Cabot coach Mike Malham said Launius winning the Landers Award was "unbelievable."
"You’ve got 13 great athletes up there so you’ve got a 1 in 13 chance," he said. "Boy, it was a great surprise. All of them are good kids but Zach is just as deserving as they were.
"Here’s a kid who had 2,000 yards and averaged 7 yards a carry and we’re not talking about outside on the corners. We’re talking about off tackle and up the middle. He carried it over 30 times a game. He’s outstanding in the classroom."
Malham said Launius’ award was great for "Cabot football, Cabot High School and the Cabot community."
"That’s the biggest award in the state for high school football," he said. "We’re just proud and excited that it came to Cabot this year."
In addition to the trophy, Launius received a ring from Jostens and a $3,000 scholarship from Landers Automotive.