LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KATV) — Joe Himon, the explosive focal point of Pulaski Academy's dynamic offense, won the 2021 Landers Award on Tuesday night. The senior running back helped lead the Bruins to their third straight state championship.
Himon rushed his way into the PA record books, amassing more than 7,500 all-purpose career yards. He rushed for 1,657 yards on 152 carries this season and added 879 receiving yards on 79 catches. He scored 40 total touchdowns and was at his best when the games mattered most. Himon had more than 100 yards on the ground in all four postseason games, scoring seven times.
"It is quite an honor," Himon said. "Just being one of the players that won it [from] PA and trying to do something good for my community, it really means a lot."
Himon becomes the third winner from Pulaski Academy, joining Spencer Keith (2008) and Fredi Knighten (2011).
"I've known Joe for a long time. I watched him first in fifth grade," PA Head Coach Anthony Lucas said. "Just watching him flourish throughout his career, he's put in the work and he's done it the way football players and I think individuals should do it: as humble as possible. He let all of his work on the football field speak for itself."
The Landers Award, celebrating 22 years of 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 $5,000 scholarship towards their school. The other nine finalists will receive plaques following a live special on KATV.
The Channel 7 sports staff chose 10 Landers Award nominees during the season. 23 statewide newspaper reporters and TV and radio broadcasters were given the opportunity to cast a vote. Their rankings, 1-10, were tabulated by HCJ CPAs and Advisors.
Past winners of the Landers Award include De'Arrius Howard (West Memphis, 2000), Reid McKinney (Warren, 2001), Landon Leach (Russellville, 2002), Peyton Hillis (Conway, 2003), Darren McFadden (Oak Grove, 2004), Damian 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), Taylor Powell (Fayetteville, 2016), Connor Noland (Greenwood, 2017), Justice Hill (Little Rock Christian, 2018), and Jacolby Criswell (Morrilton, 2019), and Austin Ledbetter (Bryant, 2020).
Robinson offensive lineman E'Marion Harris was presented with the second annual Scott Landers memorial scholarship for his tenacity and grit on the field. The $5,000 scholarship is presented in memory of Scott Landers, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 35 in January, 2020. Scott was a fierce linebacker at Pulaski Academy, earning all-state honors. He received a scholarship to play football at Arkansas Tech. Scott then followed his father into the car business and successfully grew the Landers Auto Group to include dealerships across Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
Benton linebacker Beau Wright was presented with the Paul Eells Award for showing some of the same traits the legendary sportscaster exhibited in his Hall of Fame career. The two-year starter was a leader by example for the Panthers, often going the extra mile to help peewee football players the morning after games.
The 30 minute show aired live from Channel 7's downtown Little Rock studios. Players appeared virtually again this year due to the ongoing pandemic. 2007 Landers Award finalist Jarius Wright, the former Warren, Razorbacks and NFL wide receiver, took part in the ceremony.