501 Football Team 2023: Hays Buckley – Morrilton

Don’t let last season’s record fool you: Morrilton remains one of the toughest teams around the 501.

In their first season in the Class 5A Central Conference, the Devil Dogs finished .500, with three of their four conference losses coming by one score or less. A first-round playoff loss to eventual-champion Parkview fuels the fire as Morrilton approaches 2023 with a clean slate.

Led by senior linebacker Hays Buckley, Morrilton aims to transform from underdogs to top dogs. 

“I have always seen football as the toughest sport when you combine the physical and mental aspects,” Buckley said. “I’m not the biggest linebacker on the field, so I have to make up for that with mental tactics and grit.” 

“Hays has a great work ethic, knowledge of the game and leadership,” Morrilton Head Coach Cody McNabb said. “He is always prepared to play, and I love the way he goes about his business. If the team takes on Hays’ personality, then I know we will be in good shape.”

A recipient of multiple awards, including Farm Bureau Player of the Game, Colton’s Defensive Player of the Week and Integrity Insurance Player of the Week, Buckley shines under the Friday night lights. 

“I want to be remembered as a great leader you could always count on,” Buckley said. “My goals this season are to lead the team in tackles and to be the best leader I can be. Our team achieves success this season by having the toughness a Devil Dog should have.”