Connor Noland wins 2017 Landers Award

Connor Noland wins 2017 Landers Award (KATV photo)

In one of the closest votes ever, Greenwood quarterback Connor Noland received the prestigious Landers Award Wednesday night.

The award, honoring the top high school football player in the state, has often been referred to as the "Heisman of Arkansas High School Football." The winner receives a trophy, signature Jostens ring, and a $3,000 scholarship towards their school.

Channel 7's Steve Sullivan presented Noland with the award on a live 30 minute special Wednesday night from the KATV studios in downtown Little Rock. The other nine finalists were also honored with plaques.

"I was very surprised actually," Noland said. "There's some great competition out there, obviously Layne, Mason, all the guys. It's a great group and to be named with those guys, it's a great honor."

"That's tough competition. I told him, you won over some tough guys," Greenwood Head Coach Rick Jones said. "I'm proud of Connor."

Noland, who is committed to play both football and baseball at Arkansas, led Greenwood to its eighth state title with a 52-14 win over Pine Bluff. He threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns in that game. This season, he passed for 34 touchdowns and ran for five more. Greenwood finished with a perfect 13-0 record.

"This ranks up there. Obviously a state championship, that's high up there, and this is right there with it," Noland said. "This is a great achievement. I'm just proud to be here."

First and second place were separated by only three votes.

Past winners of the Landers Award include De'Arrius Howard (West Memphis, 2000), Reed McKinney (Warren, 2001), Landon Leach (Russellville, 2002), Peyton Hillis (Conway, 2003), Darren McFadden (Oak Grove, 2004), Damien Williams (Springdale, 2005), A.J. Whitmore (Nashville, 2006), Tyler Wilson (Greenwood, 2007), Spencer Keith (Pulaski Academy, 2008), Michael Dyer (Little Rock Christian, 2009), Brandon Allen (Fayetteville, 2010), Fredi Knighten (Pulaski Academy, 2011), Drew Morgan (Greenwood, 2012), Zach Launius (Cabot, 2013), Ty Storey (Greenwood, 2014), LaDarius Skelton (Pine Bluff, 2015), and Taylor Powell (Fayetteville, 2016).

North Little Rock's Aaron Griffin was presented with the Paul Eells award. The wide receiver tore his ACL two years ago and was forced to watch his team's 2016 7A Championship loss from the sidelines. He returned for his senior season and caught the Charging Wildcats' go-ahead touchdown en route to the school's first state title since 1972.

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