501 LIFE announces 501 Football Team for 2013

The summer heat has hit, and student-athletes are toiling away in field houses across the 501, preparing for a new football season this fall. 501 LIFE is honored to announce the 2013 edition of the 501 Football Team.

The team features 16 of the best student-athletes the 501 has to offer — both on and off the field. Every county in the 501 is represented.

2013 team members include: Cortez Akins (Conway), Jake Buchanan (Greenbrier), Caleb Dather (Conway Christian), Drew Farmer (Clinton), Jordan Graves (Mayflower), Reese Heidenreich (Morrilton), Karonce Higgins (Searcy), Nate Hills (Heber Springs), Bret Kagebein (Bigelow), Hadley Martin (Quitman), Davis Nossaman (Bryant), Jack Thomas (Central Arkansas Christian), Jake Vaughan (Cabot), Pearson Wade (Magnet Cove), Eli Westerman (Fountain Lake) and Jared Willis (Vilonia).

“This is our third edition of the 501 Football Team, and I’m amazed at the quality of the nominations we receive each year,” said Levi Gilbert, associate editor. “These guys are incredibly impressive, on and off the field.”

Fourteen of the team members were in the playoffs last year; overall, the 16 members’ respective teams combined for a record of 118-66. 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 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’s one thing to read about these students on paper, but meeting them in person is when it really hits you,” Gilbert said. “All of them demonstrate real talent and character. Getting the opportunity to speak one-on-one with them is a great honor for the 501 staff. We can’t wait to share their stories with our readers this fall.”

In addition to being featured in 501 LIFE’s upcoming football preview issue, 501 Football 2013, each player will be featured individually throughout the fall online at 501lifemag.com and in 501 Sports Extra, 501’s sports e-newsletter.

This year, 501 LIFE received a record number of nominations for the team, making the selection process very competitive.

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

501 Football 2013 publishes in August, and player features will begin publishing weekly online and in 501 Sports Extra starting with the kickoff of the 2013 high school football season.

“Every season is full of amazing stories, and we feel honored to get to share these 16 players’ stories this fall,” Gilbert said. “We wish the best of luck to them and all the great student-athletes, bands, cheerleaders, coaches and fans this season.”