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

The team's season spawned a book and a whirlwind recruiting season for the much-ballyhooed players along with Malzahn's eventual leaving to become an assistant at the University of Arkansas.

Head coach: Bernie Cox; Record: 14-0

Just win, baby. Led by a dominating defense, the Tigers won their 31st state championship but recorded the first 14-0 season in the storied history of the school's football program. It may even be argued that Central didn't beat anybody in 2003, but the Tigers beat everyone they played. Central began the season tied for ninth in the Associated Press statewide poll of sportscasters and sports writers. What do they know? Central beat preseason No. 1 Springdale in the second round of the playoffs, but by the time the regular season was over the Bulldogs were the third seed from the 5A-West. Central then beat Pine Bluff in the semifinals, but the Zebras were merely the fourth seed from the 5A-South. Even in the finals, Central was matched against a third-seeded team from the 5A-East in West Memphis. Central held 10 of 14 opponents to a touchdown or less. After the nonconference schedule, the Tigers didn't score less than three touchdowns in a game.

CABOT 2000
Head coach: Mike Malham Jr.; Record: 14-0

In an age when footballs began flying all over the ballpark on Friday nights with the hurry-up, no-huddle offenses that started taking hold, the Cabot Panthers were a throwback to yesteryear. Cabot used the Dead-T offense to roll up 3,758 yards on the ground and a perfect 14-0 slate. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment for the Y2K Panthers was a three-week winning streak against the mighty West with wins over Fort Smith Northside, Springdale and Fort Smith Southside in the final three weeks of the playoffs.

"What we did going through Northside, Springdale and Southside is bigger than win-ning the state championship," Malham said.

The championship was also retribution for the Panthers, who lost in the championship games in 1998 and 1997 by a combined 79-10 score to Little Rock Fair and Southside, respectively.

Head coach: Glenn Eskola; Record: 14-0

Cedric Cobbs and Tye Forte led an offense that scored 475 points, which was the most for a team in the state's largest classification since Little Rock High scored 578 points in 1946. Cobbs, who went on to greatness as an Arkansas Razorback, was named a Parade All-American in leading Fair's offense that scored 40 or more points six times. One of those times was in the championship game against Cabot, winning 41-0. Fair scored on all four offensive possessions in the first half and added a defensive touchdown for a 31-0 halftime lead. Fair's title was the first for a Little Rock school since Central in 1986.

Head coach: Marion Glover; Record: 14-0

Wire to wire. In an unprecedented display of dominance, the Zebras became the first team to begin the season No. 1, stay No. 1 throughout and finish No. 1 in the Associated Press poll. Pine Bluff was No. 15 in the final USA Today newspaper ranking, the highest for an Arkansas team since the ranking debuted in 1982. Pine Bluff's defense, led by Associated Press Super Teamers Marcus Jefferson and Archie McCoy, pitched nine shutouts and allowed three other opponents just one touchdown. The offense wasn't shabby either. The Zebras scored 451 points, the most for a team playing in the state's largest classification since Little Rock High in 1946. Pine Bluff's wishbone attack chewed up 4,754 yards of real estate in methodical fashion.

Head coach: Lee Hardman; Record: 14-0



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