By Mike Sherman, APSE First Vice President/Contest Chair

Opelika-Auburn News sportswriter Tom Green’s profile of a high school quarterback forced to quit football after his third concussion took first place in the Associated Press Sports Editors 2013 contest for Feature writing in the under 30,000 circulation category.

Green will be presented a first-place plaque at the 2014 APSE Banquet June 28 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va. Matthew Peaslee finished second for his story in Tribune Chronicle of Warren, Ohio on a 7-year-old struck in head by a foul ball at a minor league baseball game. Opelika-Auburn News writers placed three stories in the top 10, including Ryan Wood’s third-place story on the price a former Auburn football star paid for his hall of fame career.

The top 10 is listed below with links to each writers’ Twitter pages and entries.

Sports editors in the 30,000 to 75,000 circulation category submitted 113 Feature entries. Contest catchers numbered each entry, assuring they had been stripped of headlines, graphics, bylines and any other element that would identify the writer or news organization.

In early March, preliminary judges at the APSE Winter Conference in Indianapolis selected a top 10, with each judge ranking the entries in order from 1 to 10 separately on a secret ballot. Entries were given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second and so on down to 1 point for a 10th-place vote. The final 10 were given to a second judging group, which ranked the entries 1-10 in the same fashion. The winner and final rankings are determined by tallying the ballots.

The Feature category is judged on human interest, reader interest, quality of writing and thoroughness of reporting. Each member news organization was permitted up to three entries in this category.

The contest is open to APSE members. Go to this link to join.

2013 APSE Contest: Feature story, under 30,000 circulation

(First-place votes in parentheses)

1. Tom Green, Opelika-Auburn News (Opelika, Ala.), (1), 49 points

PEACE OF MIND: Beulah quarterback walks away from game after multiple concussions

2 (tie). Matthew Peaslee, Tribune Chronicle (Warren, Ohio), (1) 45 points

Battling back

2 (tie). Ryan Wood, Opelika-Auburn News (Opelika, Ala.), 45 points

A COSTLY LEGACY: Auburn's greatest receiver Terry Beasley paid a price for hall of fame career

4. Clay Whittington, Killeen (Texas) Daily Herald, (2), 43 points

Lampasas great Johnny ‘Lam’ Jones’ life defined, altered by one magical lap

5. Jim Seimas, Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.), (1), 33 points

An NBA Assist: Ex-pro Ken Sears spending time with basketball-loving patient John Burton at a Watsonville hospital

6. Nathan Baird, Journal & Courier (Lafayette, Ind.), 31 points


7. David Morrison, Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune, 28 points

Missouri's Copeland lives life to the Max

8. Tommy Deas, The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News, 23 points

Paul W. Bryant Jr.: A legacy of his own

9. Jason Galloway, Opelika-Auburn News (Opelika, Ala.), 17 points

PREP SOFTBALL: Opelika grad Sierra Keeling overcomes unstable childhood to succeed in life, softball

10. Whitelaw Reid, The Daily Progress (Charlottesville, Va.), 16 points

Virginia guard Teven Jones beats the streets

(Mike Sherman, APSE first vice president and contest chair, is sports editor of The Oklahoman. Email him at, follow him at @MikeSherman or call 405-475-3164.)