LITTLE ROCK - Cabot running back Zach Launius won the state of Arkansas' most prestigious award for high school football players Monday night as he was named the 13th winner of the Landers award presented by KATV Channel 7 sports director Steve Sullivan.
This was the year that a major division one recruit did not win the award.
"This is what the Landers award is about," said Sullivan. "This award should go to the best football player in the state, not the player with the most scholarship offers."
Launius is well deserving of the award. He had a tremendous senior season, and helped to pace the Panthers to the state championship game. He had 39 carries for 179 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to Bentonville.
No one was more proud of Launius than his head coach Mike Malham.
"Zach is just so well deserving of this," said Malham. "Of course, all 13 guys up there were deserving and great football players, and any of them could have won it. I was shocked and surprised, and for the whole community of Cabot, this is something big. This is one of the biggest high school football awards in the state, and I think it is great that we can bring it home to Cabot."
"Zach is very deserving," Malham continued. "Here's a kid that averaged about 7.5 yards per carry, we're talking about inside, off tackle, and up the middle. There was one game he carried it 47 yards. He ran for over 2,000 yards, and plus he is a great student. He has a 4.2 in the classroom, and he is going to do well wherever he goes."
Though Mike Malham was surprised, no one was more surprised than Launius when he heard his name called.
"This means a lot," said Launius. "I'm just really grateful for this. I was grateful to just be here and be a nominee. There were 12 other players that are well more deserving than I am for this award, and to come out of this the winner truly shows how well of a city and a team I have. I'm just grateful, and I think God and my friends and family in Cabot for this."
"I was shocked when they called my name," he continued. "I thought I'd get runner up maybe, I had no idea that they would be handing me this trophy. I just feel a lot of shock and a lot of gratitude."
He said that he is hearing from a couple of schools on the recruiting trail as well.
"I have a couple of schools talking to me," said Launius. "Harding and Monticello are talking to me, but I'm looking to play at the Naval academy, so that is about it."
He also spoke about his career at Cabot.
"In seventh and eighth grade I started off on the B team," he said. "In ninth grade I started out at corner on defense, and in tenth grade I got moved up and they saw I was a little bit faster, so they decided to move me to offense. After a couple of JV games they realized I was a decent running back, so I started my last five games of my sophomore year and averaged about 10 yards per carry."
"I got hurt early in my junior year and missed most of it," Launius continued. "I came back for the playoffs, but we didn't make it far. My senior year I wasn't expecting the year I had. I owe it all to my offense and offensive line and the quarterback and halfbacks that blocked for me every play. It's not me. I rarely got any yards on my own, it was all made for me."
Launius joins De'Arrius Howard, Reed McKinney, Landon Leach, Peyton Hillis, Darren McFadden, Damian Williams, A.J. Whitmore, Tyler Wilson, Spencer Keith, Michael Dyer, Brandon Allen. Fredi Knighten, and Drew Morgan as winners of the Landers award since its inception in 2000.
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