Rector ready to prove Devil Dog defense’s might

Levi GIlbert

Levi has worked with 501 LIFE since 2008, initially helping with sports features and launching 501 Football. Since 2011, he has served as Associate Editor, which simply means he does a little bit of everything. Levi lives in Conway with his wife, Brittany, and their three children. Levi also serves as the Color Commentator for Conway High football and basketball on Conway Corp's local programming.
Levi GIlbert
Morrilton High School’s Steven Rector is a member of this year’s 501 Football Team, sponsored by Conway Regional Health System, First Security Bank and Conway Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Center. (Mike Kemp photo)

After facing unexpected adversity due to injuries to dynamic players, Steven Rector and the Morrilton Devil Dogs weathered the storm in 2018. 

Rector, a senior defensive lineman for the Devil Dogs, racked up nine tackles for a loss a year ago, helping lift Morrilton after heralded quarterback Jacolby Criswell missed most of the season due to a pre-season injury. 

The Devil Dogs finished tied for second in the 5A West. Criswell returned late in the season, spurring the Devil Dogs to the 5A semifinals.

“What enabled our success last year was after our starting quarterback got hurt, we didn’t know what we were going to do,” Rector said. “But one of the best backup quarterbacks you could have, Dylan White, came in and filled in some big shoes. With him back there, our success started rolling.” 

With so many offensive weapons back and a young and hungry defense led by Rector, the Devil Dogs have unfinished business this fall.

“I hear a lot of people saying our defense is the weakness of our team this year,” Rector said.

“My personal goal this season is to show that isn’t the case. We want to help bring back a state championship to the city. We are focused on the little things, and we know how to react when adversity hits us.”

Rector was selected to this year’s 501 Football Team – 27 players representing all 11 counties of the 501. The team, sponsored by Conway Regional Health System, First Security Bank and Conway Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Center, boasts the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field. The senior was nominated by his head coach, Cody McNabb.

“Steven has a great attitude and level of effort,” McNabb wrote in his nomination. “He has a great sense of humor and is good with our younger kids. He promotes competition daily. We expect him to be the best defensive lineman in the 5A West.”

Rector has been part of great football successes at Morrilton over the years, having followed in the footsteps of his elders. 

“My favorite football memory was going 10-0 to win the conference championship in junior high,” Rector said. “Really, that whole year was a good memory. I have been playing football since the fourth grade. I grew up watching my older brother play football on Friday nights, and that encouraged me to want to play, too.” 

Rector is a two-sport athlete at Morrilton. After football finishes later this fall, he’ll move over to the hardcourt for the Devil Dog basketball team. 

“When I’m not playing sports, I like to spend time with my family, listen to music and chill,” Rector said. “My plans after high school are to work in the oil field with my dad or go to college if I can pick up an offer.” 

Morrilton opens the season at Searcy at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30.