FARMINGTON -- Nearly five decades after Farmington won back-to-back Class B State football championships in 1972-1973 players, coaches and cheerleaders from that era still find the feat worth celebrating.
Among those gathered at Cardinal Stadium Friday fans saluted 18 players, six cheerleaders and two coaches introduced at halftime during a 15-0 win by this year's Cardinal varsity coached by J.R. Eldridge over 5A West opponent, Morrilton.
Allen Holland, head coach for both the 1972 and 1973 teams, arrived in Farmington in 1966 as the only coach working with the football program. He continued functioning as a "staff of one" during the 1972 season then hired Ronnie Davis as an assistant for the 1973 season after winning the first of consecutive state championships.
Holland appreciated the efforts of Farmington athletic director Beau Thompson and Superintendent Jon Paul Laffoon for honoring his teams,
"It was long-time overdue as far as I'm concerned ... and they fed us over at Damon's and it's just been a grand event. I'm real proud of Farmington High School," Holland said.
Davis, who went on to become Farmington head boys basketball coach and enjoyed a lengthy career at the school, echoed those sentiments.
"It feels really great, I'm just really blessed, just in the right pace at the right time," Davis said.
Ronnie Hudson, who wore jersey No. 61 earning All-Conference honors as a guard, recalls Holland's demanding practices served to instill a motivation to excel.
"It was rough. It was tough playing for him but we'd run through a wall for him, and I'd still do it. He had morals and strict policies and he was just that type of coach," Hudson said.
Holland remembers the first championship just kind of happened. The Cardinals had a real good bunch of boys In the ninth grade who went undefeated in junior high.
Farmington lost one game in that two year span and according to Holland that was because the very first game of the 1972 season the team witnessed what he described as "a terrible injury" in the first quarter to one player.
"The team just didn't recover. But it was a nonconference game so it didn't matter," Holland said.
The 13-0 loss was to rival Prairie Grove, which was then a member of the 1A North and finished 8-2 overall and 3-2 in their league.
Holland talked about the joy so many people draw from their association with the game of football. Everybody from coaches to players, fans and referees obviously enjoy it.
Holland perceives football as the only sport where anybody can play.
"You don't have to have any special skills or talent, you just have to have a big heart and in the early days before they allowed them to start holding on offense the little man could play," Holland said.
Under Holland the Cardinals lined up their fair share of 5-6, 150-pound offensive linemen.
"Imagine that? But they were quick, they could fire out and scramble a block," Holland said.
In contrast with baseball and basketball, sports which Holland regards require a natural talent and having to be able to put the ball in the hole or put the bat on the ball, football makes room for those not as physically gifted.
"Football you could play if you wanted to bad enough," Holland said. "We'd find a place for you to play. That sets football apart."
1973 CLASS B PLAYOFFS
Danville 46, Mountain Pine 12
Hazen 13, Gillett 0
Mineral Springs, bye
Farmington 31, Danville 24
Hazen 26, Mineral Springs 22
Farmington 10, Hazen 6