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Cabot football player in the running for Landers Award

By Lisa Burnett

This article was published January 5, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

Zach Launius is a finalist for the Landers Award. He’s a senior at Cabot High School and has played football since he was in fifth grade. The winner will be announced Jan. 13 during a live broadcast on KATV.

CABOT — If Zach Launius of Cabot is the recipient of this year’s Landers Award, presented by KATV, the Little Rock ABC affiliate television station, he’ll make school history.

He’s one of 13 nominees from across the state.

“It would mean a lot to my school [if I won],” Zach said.

Since the award began in 2000, no one from Cabot High School has ever received the statewide award. In fact, no player from the entire Three Rivers Edition coverage area has ever taken the honor.

According to the KATV website, the Landers Award recognizes superior athletic achievement in Arkansas high school football and embodies the spirit of courage and dedication all students must master to become the best of the best.

“It’s quite an honor for him to be nominated, and no one from Cabot has ever won it,” said Zach’s mother, Christy.

He has played football since he was in the fifth grade and is looking to play college ball — if he finds the right place to do it.

“I’m wanting to play, but I don’t know many colleges that are giving me any money [to play football] right now,” Zach said.

With seven years of football under his belt, there are some parts of the sport Zach will miss if he doesn’t play in college, he said.

“I’m going to miss game days — the excitement of them,” he said. “I’m also going to miss my friends and teammates.”

Zach, who played fullback for the Cabot Panthers, said he didn’t know he was nominated for the award until a reporter from the television station showed up at his school one day.

“Steve Sullivan randomly showed up at Cabot [High School], and he kept interviewing me and all this stuff, and I finally asked him at the end what it was for, and he told me I got nominated. The whole football team knew before I did,” Zach said.

Each week, for 13 weeks during the high school football season, a Landers Player of the Week is chosen by the KATV sports staff and announced during a Thursday sportscast, according to the KATV website.

“We’re excited about the nomination — it’s an honor,” said Zach’s father, John.

This year, Zach, a senior at Cabot High School, gained a little more than 2,000 yards for the Panthers, repeatedly earning him the Three Rivers Edition Performer of the Week honor and helping to lead Cabot to the Class 7A state championship game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

“All of his yards were up the middle, and those were hard yards,” John said.

Zach said he thinks he is a team player and is excited about his nomination.

“I just participate and give a good amount of effort [on the field],” Zach said.

Zach, his family and his football coach, Mike Malham, will attend a dinner at the KATV studios Jan. 13 and be part of the live broadcast of the Landers Award Show.

The winner of the award will be announced and awarded a signature ring and a $3,000 scholarship to use at the school of his choice.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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