LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – It may be cliché, but nonetheless still true, that winning is contagious. Especially with Arkansas high school football.
Despite losing seniors, dealing with covid or injuries… these programs always find a way to win almost every year.
There have been three different Arkansas high school football programs that have won four state championships in a row. Central High back in the 1950s, Pulaski Academy from 2014-17, and now the Bryant Hornets in 7A.
Buck James was hired five years ago to be the head coach of the Hornets. After taking Bryant to the 7A semis his first season, they’ve won a state championship every year.
“This time last year I said, ‘heck I’ll take 7-3,’” James said. “We did some things that I didn’t think we could do. We got a lot of our defense back, some guys on offense that make plays, we got some good kids coming up hopefully it’s a program that can contend with for the rest of time.”
In 6A Greenwood is no stranger to winning state titles, winning 10 since 2000. They fell short in 2021 of going back-to-back losing to El Dorado in the championship game 27-17.
After Kevin Kelley’s departure in May, people weren’t sure if Pulaski Academy could continue its dominance in 5A winning 9 state titles in 18 years. In steps first-time head coach Anthony Lucas and nothing changed. The Bruins dominated in 2021 to win their third straight state title.
“When coach Kelley left in May and we were like, ‘what are we going to do?’ Lucas said. “God had another plan. They asked me to be the head coach and I took it with open arms and today there were a lot of firsts in our program.”
It may be the first title for Lucas, but you could probably bet it won’t be the last.
In 4A, the Shiloh Christian Saints have a chance to win back-to-back titles. They must beat 2019 4A champ Joe T. Robinson this Saturday first. This program is known for its hot winning streaks. In 1998 &1999 the Saints went back-to-back, then from 2006-2009, they won three straight.
Easily, the most dominant team in 3A is Harding Academy. The Wildcats have cruised to their third straight state title game, wanting a third ring. Only losing to one in-state opponent since 2018, head coach Neil Evans continues to reload and dominate.
“It’s an unbelievable strain,” Evans said. “Lots of sleepless nights and headaches on Sundays. I wouldn’t trade it for the feeling right now to look into these players’ eyes and see the joy in the coaches’ eyes knowing the satisfaction of a job well done.”
Last but certainly not least, in 2A the Fordyce Red Bugs have a chance to win its third title in as many years as they prepare for McCrory this Friday night. The Red Bugs have eight state championships under their belt, but it’s been about 60 years since the last time they’ve won back-to-back-to-back – a title run from 1958 through 1960.
For more on these teams, you can go to FearlessFriday.com.