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 Cardinals led the Cotton Belt Sweep of ‘90 as Pine Bluff, Fordyce and Rison joined Dollarway from the Delta region of the state to win state championships. While Basil Shabazz stole the show in leading the Pine Bluff Zebras to the state title with a five-touchdown performance in the state championship game, the Dollarway Cardinals were the best team in the state in 1990. Carl Johnson, Deotis Gardner, Jessie Miller and Eric Hobbs were all named to the prestigious Associated Press Super Team. Having four players named from a team not in the state's largest classification is unheard of and speaks volumes of the respect for the Cardinals in ‘90. Dollarway gave up just 45 points in 14 games, recording eight shutouts and allowing no more than 12 points in any game.

"We had a lot of three-year starters that had confidence, had skill and had ability," Hardman said. "We had a combination of outstanding talent, discipline and the will to be the very best."

The senior class, which boasted 34 players on the roster, finished a three-year run that included three state titles and a 40-2 record.

Head coach: Bernie Cox; Record: 12-0

One of the great Tiger teams of all time interrupted Little Rock Parkview's dynasty of the 1970s. Led by quarterback Houston Nutt and receiver Robert Farrell, Central went undefeated but not without controversy. In the second game of the year, the conference and state championship in the big-school conference was decided. In a 20-14 win, Central's win was preserved when the Zebras were stopped less than inches from the goal line as time expired. Pine Bluff had the ball first and goal from the 2 with 26 seconds left. Central claims a goal-line stand for the ages while the Zebras claims victory taken away. Pine Bluff finished with just the one loss. Central finished undefeated and was unapproachable the last eight games of the season, giving up just nine touchdowns all season.

Head coach: Sam Goodwin; Record: 11-0

Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame coach Sam Goodwin built a dynasty at Parkview in the ‘70s when the Patriots won three outright state titles, shared two state titles and compiled a 47-4-2 record during a six-year stretch.

"I think the thing we did better than most teams was block," Goodwin said. "We took a lot of pride in our offensive line."

The ‘74 team featured tight end Charles Clay, tackle Jim Kissire and guard Jerry Sullivan, all of whom went on to play for the Razorbacks, and center Brooks Hollingsworth, who was named to the Associated Press Super Team. Behind them, Parkview had tailback Gerald Jones, who rushed for 1,061 yards and 13 touchdowns, quarterback Jerry Barnett, who rushed for 1,040 yards and 14 scores, and fullback John Barron, who added 964 yards and nine touchdowns.

The ‘74 Patriots also were involved in one of the most anticipated games in the state's history when Parkview and Central met on a Thursday night late in the season to decide the big-school title when both were undefeated. Parkview prevailed 31-21 in a game between the Patriots' vaunted running game and Central's potent passing game.

Head coach: Robert "Swede" Lee; Record: 13-0

Swede Lee returned to Texarkana and immediately led the Razorbacks out of racial difficulties and to the state championship, recording the first perfect season in Texarkana history. Ironically, Lee played for crosstown rival Texas High and played under Darrell Royal at the University of Texas. It was Lee's second coaching stint at Texarkana, returning to the school as the highest paid coach in the state at $20,000 per year. It was certainly a worthwhile investment as the Razorbacks won three straight state champion-ships and dominated the second-largest classification during that time. The ‘73 team was led by a quartet of Associated Press Super Teamers: Graylon Wyatt, Robert Williams, Mike Trammell and Earnest Cheatham.

Head coach: Bill Stancil; Record: 12-0

The Grizzlies and Little Rock Hall duked it out for supremacy in the ‘60s, but the greatest of them all was the Northside team of 1967. Including the traditional season-opening game against rival Van Buren, Northside faced eight opponents that were undefeated entering its game with the Grizzlies. Maybe no greater schedule was played by a team during the past 50 years. Those were the days before the modern playoff era, but the Grizzlies still went 12-0 in a schedule that included the regular big-school diet of Hall, Central, El Dorado, Pine Bluff and North Little Rock. The Grizzlies handed Hall and Springdale their only losses of the season. In all, Northside gave up 68 points and allowed no team over 200 yards of offense.

(Leland Barclay is the author of the "Almanac of Arkansas High School Football.")



Please read our comments policy before commenting.