story by Aric Mitchell
(images courtesy of Steve Wilhelm)
While some of the newer Fort Smithians may not have heard of the St. Anne Buffaloes, the school was all high school football fans seemed to be talking about in the late 1950’s and early 1960‘s.
Between 1954 to 1966, under the direction of Head Coach George Loss, the blue-and-white couldn’t seem to do anything else but win.
It was during this time that the 5 Best St. Anne Buffalo Teams of all time were at work, taking to Hunt’s Field on Thursday and Friday nights to exert their dominance over District 4A and the state of Arkansas.
5. 1963 St. Anne Buffaloes
The 1963 squad was where the most successful run in St. Anne History began. The Buffs racked up 11 victories with no defeats and scored 23 points per game while allowing only five. In all, the ’63 St. Anne 11 racked up 296 points, holding opponents to only 54. While dominant, however, they were challenged in tough contests against Clarksville (20-13) and Heavener, Okla. (6-0).
4. 1960 St. Anne Buffaloes
This was the year Fort Smithians grew to learn the name Martine Bercher. Bercher’s career did not stop at St. Anne’s. He played for the Arkansas Razorbacks National Championship team and did a two-year stint in the pro ranks with the Minnesota Vikings and the Atlanta Falcons. But he was never more dominant than he was at St. Anne High School. Not only did he help his team to a perfect season, he also contributed to an explosive offense that averaged 40 points per game, while the D gave up a shade under six (59 points in 10 games).
3. 1959 St. Anne Buffaloes
Another of the more impressive Buffalo squads, the 1959ers crushed every team they played. Mena came the closest, falling 26-6 in the first game of the season, while Dardanelle were the most embarrassed, getting maimed 61-6. The Booneville Bearcats scored the most on this St. Anne team with 13, but allowed 53 points for their troubles, the second most the Buffs’ offense would score all year.
2. 1964 St. Anne Buffaloes
Following an unbeaten season and District 4A title, the 1963 bunch returned with bigger aspirations. Not only did they power through their schedule for an unbeaten 11-0 season, but they also earned the school an outright state title. The only thing that keeps this bunch from being No. 1 is style. Their contests with Charleston and Alma were much tougher than they would be the following season.
1. 1965 St. Anne Buffaloes
Here they are. The best St. Anne team to ever take the field. Why? Because they allowed only two touchdowns all year. That’s right, two. The first came against the Charleston Tigers, whom they clobbered 47-7. The second was in a mistake-prone contest with Paris in which the Buffs would eventually prevail 21-6.
By year’s end, the consecutive winning streak would rise to 32. Point totals would rest at 302, while defense only allowed 13 all year. (Less than a safety per game.) It was the equivalent of beating each team by four touchdowns. The Buffs were awarded the state championship to go along with their third consecutive District 4A title. As for the winning streak, it would continue into Week 5 of the 1966 season, finally coming to rest at the hands of Spiro in a 6-0 loss.
While the 1965 Buffaloes would be the last truly great team the school would produce — it closed in 1973 — it would cap a legacy of dominance and good sportsmanship that, along with Fort Smith High School, placed the city on the map long before there was a Northside, Southside, or Battle of Rogers Avenue.