Akers, a senior center for the Panthers, is undersized for a lineman, even in the high school game. But that's never deterred the pugnacious blocker who anchors the line for this year's much-improved Antioch squad.
"Because I'm undersized, I have to give my best on every single play," explained Akers. "I can't take any plays off. I really have to focus on the mental aspect of the game and prepare myself to take on bigger guys. I just decide that I'm not going to let them beat me."
Few people consider a 5-foot-10, 235-pound 17-year old "small," but compared to the behemoths Akers typically finds himself helmet-to-helmet with on the line of scrimmage, he often feels like David staring up at Goliath.
"The guys I have to block are usually 6-2 and over 240 pounds," Akers explains. "Moving up from youth football to high school football was a big transition for me. The guys keep getting bigger and faster, and I have to keep up. When we played Vintage this year I had to go up against a guy who was 6-6 and 300 pounds - I drove him sideways down the line and put him flat on his back. When you pancake somebody like that it's the best feeling you could ever have."
Akers, who also throws discus and shot-put for the Panthers Track and Field team, credits a lot of his success in overcoming adversity on the football field to his parents, who have always pushed him to "give 110 percent" and to see his commitments through to the end. He also credits Beede, a former NFL lineman himself, for helping him perfect his footwork and blocking technique.
All that hard work has paid off, both for Akers and the Panthers, as Antioch has rebounded from a dismal 2005 showing to post a 3-3 record so far this season.
Akers, whose GPA is 3.6, is hoping to make another tough transition next year, continuing his football career at the collegiate level either at Menlo, Puget Sound or Southern Oregon.