14 years ago, someone at KATV thought it would be a good idea to present a LIVE 30 minute high school football "player of the year" special.
The first thing they had to do was find a sponsor. It had to be a successful local business that would be in it for the long run. They made the right call when they decided on Steve Landers. Big Steve's second passion - a distant second behind selling cars - is watching high school football.
Steve Landers likes to think big - real big!!! It was Big Steve's call to make this a statewide award. Deserving players from any football-playing school in the state would be eligible to win the Landers Award... and in the award's 14 year run our winners HAVE come from all over the state.
Monday night at 6:30 on KATV, you can see the 14th annual Landers Award show. It's become one of my favorite nights of the year. I enjoy seeing the players, their coaches and their families. For most of these kids, it's their last high school football banquet.
It's also an opportunity to honor the late, great Paul Eells.
Paul loved Landers Award night!!! Just having Paul on the show made it a big event. I remember Paul's last Landers Award. It was 2005. Springdale stars Mitch Mustain and Damian Williams were in that group. I remember how excited all those finalists were to meet the longtime voice of the Razorbacks. On a night where I'm a bundle of nerves, Paul was such a great calming influence.
Our 2013 Paul Eells award winner is Bo Weddle from Carlisle. Why Bo? Well, he's a young man who's displayed qualities during his high school career that remind us of Paul. We hope Bo realizes how special this honor is.
Who will win the 2013 Landers Award? I don't know. I had a difficult time filling out my ballot. I can't remember a year where there were so many good options for that number one spot on my ballot. I'm anticipating a very close vote.
Our goal is to make this a night to remember all 14 high school players we honor. Vikings receiver Jarius Wright remembers. He still believes he should have won the Landers Award. The former Warren star watched Greenwood's Tyler Wilson take home the top prize.
For me, it's the fastest 30 minutes of the year. We'll go from week one winner, Tailback Juan Day of North Little Rock to week 13 winner, Quarterback Ty Storey from Charleston. Video features on all 13 finalists will be shown.
Around 6:58 Monday night, we will announce the winner of the 2013 Landers Award. He will take home the 2013 Landers Award trophy, the $3,000 scholarship check for his school and the Landers ring from our friends at Jostens.
It's one of my favorite nights of the year.