501 LIFE announces 501 Football Team '14

Some people mark the flow of a year by the seasons. Many people in the 501 mark the passage of time by the kickoff of high school and collegiate football. The time is near.

501 LIFE is honored to announce the 2014 edition of the 501 Football Team.

The team features 24 student-athletes (the largest team yet) — the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field. Every county in the 501 is represented, and several schools boast a representative for the first time.

2014 team members include: Hunter Blanton (Clinton), Noah Bowman (Conway Christian), Carson Chandler (Fountain Lake), Nate Dickson (Harding Academy), Ethan Edwards (Greenbrier), Jake Ferguson (Cabot), Caleb Ferren (Rose Bud), Jared Hailey (Maumelle), Tyrik Harris (England), Montae Hernandez (Malvern), Brushawn Hunter (Bryant), Cory Ireland (Perryville), Chandler Marquardt (Heber Springs), Trey McGhee (Quitman), Terrence Minor (Morrilton), Brock Mitchell (Conway), Ross Nitch (Magnet Cove), Riley Norman (Mayflower), Nels Owens (Riverview), Brandon Paladino (Vilonia), Chris Qualls (Searcy), Clint Smedley (Hot Springs Lakeside), Alex Williams (Bigelow) and Zack Wren (Cutter Morning Star).

“We’re four years in with the 501 Football Team, and the response to the concept has never been more passionate,” said Levi Gilbert, associate editor. “We had more nominations this year than we’ve ever had, and the interest in the team is spreading all throughout the 501.

“Coaches, players, parents, the communities — more people than ever before are believing the message behind the team. People get what the team is about, and they support what it stands for.”

Players were nominated by their respective coaches and selected by the 501 LIFE staff. Nominations were weighted equally between on- and off-the-field attributes.

The team recently met at Conway Christian’s field for a photo shoot and individual interviews.

“It never gets old meeting these new guys every summer,” Gilbert said. “It’s inspiring. Some of the student-athletes have overcome so much adversity on- and off-the-field. They are wise beyond their years, and the support they provide in their communities is immeasurable.”

And on the field, their contributions have been just as impressive. Eighteen of the team members were in the playoffs last year; overall, the 24 members’ respective teams combined for a record of 147 wins.

In addition to being recognized in this year’s edition of 501 LIFE’s football preview issue, 501 Football 2014, each player will be featured individually throughout the fall online at 501lifemag.com and in 501 Sports Extra, 501’s sports e-newsletter. (To sign up, visit 501lifemag.com or email [email protected].)

“Getting to feature these amazing people to our readers makes the fall my favorite time of the year,” Gilbert said. “I can’t wait for our readers to learn more about these guys. 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 our job without them.”

Player features will begin publishing weekly online and in 501 Sports Extra starting a few weeks before the kickoff of the 2014 high school football season.

“The 501 was blessed with some great football in 2013,” Gilbert said. “Morrilton won it all. Cabot was in the 7A final. Conway was on the brink of a championship game. I think we’ll see even more success from 501 teams this fall.

“I think we could very well see a few of our 501 Football Team members in championship games come December. We wish the best of luck to them and all the great student-athletes, bands, cheerleaders, coaches and fans this season.”