story by Aric Mitchell
(image courtesy of Steve Wilhelm)
Head Coach George Loss of the 1958 St. Anne Buffaloes and his assistant Herman Henry were not generally the type of men you could bully around. But even they found out in a hurry there was little one could do when more than three dozen elated high school boys wanted to throw you into an icy locker room shower.
Following a 25-0 trounce of the Ozark Hillbillies, the St. Anne squad did just that to their leaders, who didn’t seem to mind in spite of it being a brisk Thanksgiving afternoon. The win pushed the Buffs to 10-0-1, meaning they had not seen defeat in 22 games. The only blemish on their record came in Week 3 against the Paris Eagles, but that wasn’t outright defeat as St. Anne settled with a 13-13 tie.
Going into the Paris game, Week 1 and Week 2 could not have been more polarized. In the opener against Alma, the Buffs hardly broke a sweat en route to a 39-0 victory. The following week saw St. Anne’s doing battle with a wily Muldrow defense that gave up only six points. Luckily for the blue-and-white, they had a surly defense of their own that allowed nada.
With a 2-0-1 record, Coach Loss looked to his next opponent with trepidation. The Mansfield Tigers were unbeaten, and had handled an improved Alma squad pretty easily. Loss commented to the Southwest American a couple of days before the contest that his team’s own victory against the Airedales was misleading since Alma had not practiced once prior to the start of the school year. Needless to say, he was more impressed with Mansfield’s win than his own.
But those concerns would prove to be unfounded when the showdown finally came. The Buffs capitalized on two fumbles and hung an 85-yard drive on the Tigers with running back Ronnie Rogers leading the way to secure an easy 24-0 win.
The next week should have been a breather as St. Anne’s did battle with another set of Tigers from Charleston. Unlike their Mansfield brethren, these Tigers had yet to win a game when they faced the Buffs, and so expectations were quite low when Friday night came.
Surprising everyone, the black-and-gold of Charleston put up a real fight against St. Anne’s allowing only two touchdowns, but failing to get anything started on its own. Rogers stunned Charleston with a score in the first, and quarterback Dick McKenzie added the second in the third period to escape the Tigers 12-0.
The winless Danville Little Johns were the next victims of St. Anne’s, falling 33-0 while allowing 336 yards on the ground and accumulating only 100 in total offense. Hartford fell next, as the Hustlers were out-hustled by Rogers’ four TDs and Richard Walker’s two in a brutal 39-7 beating.
By Week 8, Walker, a Subiaco transfer, would make a name for himself on the Buffs’ squad. He scored all three TDs, including a 92-yard run, against Waldron in a 20-7 win and was a constant thorn in the side of Booneville (25-0) and Dardanelle (34-0) the next two weeks.
The win against Ozark would bring St. Anne’s first year as a District A School to an end. The 10-0-1 record was not perfect, but it was enough to earn them the second place position in the District 4A behind an unbeaten Greenwood Bulldogs team (11-0).
As the players were turning in their pads and content to spend Friday nights at the Temple watching a double bill of scary movies like “I Married a Monster from Outer Space” and “The Blob” or westerns like “The Big Country” at Malco, they had pretty much accepted the second place ranking. But it was after the season when things got interesting.
Greenwood had used an ineligible player throughout the season in wins against Booneville and Ozark. The error came to the attention of Mr. John Burnett with the Arkansas Athletic Association, and the Bulldogs had to formally forfeit both contests.
Burnett said the ineligibility was unintentional and that it was done without the knowledge of the coach or the player. The infraction took the 4A Championship out of Greenwood’s hands and placed it in those of the St. Anne 11. In the process, it dropped the Bulldogs to No. 3 in the conference behind the Buffs and No. 2 Clarksville, who finished with a 6-1 conference mark.
As St. Anne charted new territory at a larger classification, Lady Luck appeared to be on her side.