501 Football Team boasts 'character and talent'

Last fall, 501 LIFE presented the inaugural 501 Football Team, featuring 17 high school student-athletes from across Central Arkansas. The team represented the best 501 has to offer — both on and off the field.

Introducing the 501 Football Team 2012: (front, from left) Brandon Forrester, Mayflower; Robert Meredith, Greenbrier; Jalen Bell, Bryant; Michael Atkinson, Vilonia; Jake Hoy, Bigelow; Chase Stewart, Quitman; Ethan Bly, Heber Springs; (middle row) Dalton Jackson, Clinton; Slater Smith, Conway; Will Francis, Harding Academy; Mackenzie Ross, Fountain Lake; Matt Austin, Conway Christian; Aaron Bell, Bryant; Ian Thompson, Cabot; (back row) Jordan Ross, England; James Kelley, Maumelle; Hunter Linam, Magnet Cove; Gilberto Garcia, Morrilton; Brody Welcher, Beebe; and Trey Martin, Lake Hamilton. (Mike Kemp photo)

This fall, 501 LIFE is again honored and privileged to present the concept again. The 2012 edition of the 501 Football Team includes 20 members, representing all 11 counties in the 501. 

2012 team members include: Michael Atkinson (Vilonia); Matt Austin (Conway Christian); Aaron Bell (Bryant); Jalen Bell (Bryant); Ethan Bly (Heber Springs); Brandon Forrester (Mayflower); Will Francis (Harding Academy); Gilberto Garcia (Morrilton); Jake Hoy (Bigelow); Dalton Jackson (Clinton); James Kelley (Maumelle); Hunter Linam (Magnet Cove); Trey Martin (Lake Hamilton); Robert Meredith (Greenbrier); Jordan Ross (England); Mackenzie Ross (Fountain Lake); Slater Smith (Conway); Chase Stewart (Quitman); Ian Thompson (Cabot); and Brody Welcher (Beebe). 

“The 501 staff is extremely excited to be able to present these 20 student-athletes to our readers,” said associate editor Levi Gilbert. “In addition to being featured in our upcoming football preview issue, 501 Football 2012, each player will be featured individually throughout the fall in our website and our sports e-newsletter, 501 Sports Extra.”

The team boasts a number of all conference performers and four all state selections, but it is the contributions these young men make off the field that is just as important as their contributions on it. Players were nominated by their respective coaches and selected by the 501 Football staff. Nominations were weighted equally between on- and off-the-field attributes.

“This year’s team is full of so much character and talent,” Gilbert said. “The 501 is blessed with such great student-athletes, not to mention the top-notch bands, cheerleaders, coaches and fans. The 501 does high school football right.

“We’d like to thank all the coaches who took the time to recognize one of their outstanding student-athletes by submitting a nomination. We couldn’t do it without their help and support.”

501 Football 2012 publishes in August, and player features will begin publishing weekly online and in 501 Sports Extra starting with the kickoff of the 2012 high school football season.

“We at 501 LIFE feel privileged to cover high school sports in Central Arkansas,” Gilbert said. “We wish all 20 of this year’s 501 Football Team members the best of luck this school year and beyond. We can’t wait to see how every single one of their stories play out this fall.”  


(Look for more in-depth coverage on each 501 Football Team member in 501 Football 2012 and 501 Sports Extra. Sign up at here to receive 501 Sports Extra instantly in your inbox.)