[Go to bottom of post for more on Malzahn’s 2005 Springdale team]
None of Pulaski Academy’s 14 wins this season came down to the wire. Votes for season-ending rankings, however, proved a different matter altogether. As expected, there is a severe rift in public opinion concerning Arkansas’ best overall high school football team this season.
On one hand, the state’s largest newspaper deemed P.A. the best team, followed by Fayetteville, then Bentonville. Central Arkansas-based sportswriter Robert Yates constructed these Democrat-Gazette’s rankings. Rivals.com’s national prep sportswriter Dallas Jackson also deemed P.A. as the state’s best, again followed by Fayetteville and Bentonville.
The Arkansas arm of national prep sports outlet VYPE, meanwhile, conducted a poll with Arkansas prep football coaches. Fayetteville won this poll, with P.A. and Bentonville trailing. Finally, about a dozen Associated Press members released their poll Monday. Their rankings mirror VYPE’s.
That the 4A Bruins didn’t top the Associated Press poll isn’t a surprise. In fact, no team of a similar classification (4th-largest) has ever finished first in the state’s final A.P. poll. Only two teams – 1964 Conway and 1987 Arkadelphia – have finished atop that final poll. Both teams were in the second-largest classification at the time.
This is according to the Almanac of Arkansas High School Football, by longtime Arkansas sportswriter Leland Barclay. Barclay, conveniently enough, also happens to be one of the Associated Press members whose votes comprise the poll. For Barclay, 7A teams – even those with multiple losses – are nearly always better than lower classification teams:
“Schools from the state’s largest classification will always get the nod as the overall final No. 1 team in the state because as the state champion that team had to compete and excel against the best teams in the state over an 11-week stretch. Schools from the other classifications don’t do that…”