The Greatest High School Teams of the Past 50 Years

by Leland Barclay  on Monday, Sep. 3, 2007 12:00 am  

This story is from the archives of

Cars were stacked along Markham Street in Little Rock, and fans were piling into War Memorial Stadium to get a final glimpse of one of the greatest teams in Arkansas high school football history.

Even before they were all seated, Springdale scored three touchdowns in the opening six minutes of what turned out to be another easy win for the Bulldogs.

Springdale rolled on to a 54-20 win over West Memphis in the 2005 Class 5A state championship game to culminate a 14-0 season that was as dominating as it was predictable.

In addition to winning the state title, Springdale also finished No. 2 nationally in the Student Sports Magazine ranking behind Southlake, Texas, Carroll. The Bulldogs were No. 4 in the nation in the final USA Today newspaper ranking. Even discussions for a postseason mythical national championship game between Springdale and Lakeland, Fla., which was No. 1 in the final USA Today ranking, surfaced.

So went the 2005 season in Arkansas. Talk of greatness surrounded the Bulldogs everywhere they went, as did talk of where that Springdale team stacked up against the great teams of the past.

The last national championship high school football team from Arkansas, mythically speaking, of course, was Wilson Matthews' final Little Rock Central team in 1957. It was a time in not only the state's history but the nation's history as well when all eyes were on Central High and how it handled the social dilemma called desegregation.

With that team as a starting point, these are the top 10 teams to grace the high school fields across Arkansas during the past half-century. The list is in reverse chronological order. It's up to much debate what team should be No. 2 behind the Bulldogs of 2005.

Head coach: Gus Malzahn; Record: 14-0

Any talk of greatness to anyone under the age of 50 must begin and end with the Bulldogs of 2005. The nicknames for the team's season were numerous, like Mustainmania, the Springdale Five, Once-In-A-Lifetime Team. Division 1-A signees Mitch Mustain, Damian Williams, Andrew Norman, Ben Cleveland and Bartley Webb were the center of attention along with Malzahn, who even literally wrote the book on the hurry-up, no-huddle offense.

The team was a statistician's dream, and the mere numbers were staggering.

Springdale mercy-ruled 12 teams, leading by 35 or more points in the second half to evoke the sportsmanship rule enacted by the Arkansas Activities Association that kept the clock running continuously in an attempt to keep down slaughters. The only teams that the Bulldogs did not mercy-rule were Shreveport Evangel in the season opener and in the state championship game against West Memphis. Against Shreveport, the Bulldogs actually led 35-0 in the fourth quarter, but Louisiana does not have a sportsmanship rule. Against West Memphis, the Bulldogs led 34-0 before missing an extra point that would have evoked it then.

Springdale scored 664 points during the season and 89 offensive touchdowns on only 630 plays.



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