Contrary to what you might have read after the Bearcats beat Dardanelle the conference title the Bearcats clinched when they beat West Fork this past Friday was the 33rd for the school.
A sports writer colleague who wrote the smaller number derived his figure from when the Arkansas Activities Association formally aligned conferences in 1946.
In researching the history of the program for the book I wrote after the 1994 season, I found conference affiliations back to 1926 starting with the Western Arkansas Conference.
In 1930 Booneville tied Belleville for the Mid-Western Conference title but the teams had not played so they met in a conference title game that the Cattle – I’m not making that up – won 13-0.
Finally, in 1932, under Ralph “Bud” Blythe, Jr., in his first year at the school, the Bearcats won a title. That 7-1 year was followed up by another 7-1 title in 1933 and Blythe’s 1938, 8-0 team.
Those count. That’s all there is to it. As far as I’m concerned they count as much as the now 25 the last four coaches have combined to win.
Scott Hyatt is now the head coach of five title teams, matching Gene Bradley. Doug Scheel teams won seven and Kenneth Rippy teams won eight.
Between Blythe and Bradley J. Perry Mikles won a title in 1945, with the Bearcats winning nine straight after an 0-2 start.
The next season, when the AAA ran the show, the Bearcats won 10 but didn’t win a title – Conway did. Go figure.
Arl McConnell’s 1947 team won a conference title and went to the playoffs, reaching the semi-finals. Tom Murphy’s teams won three titles as well with his 1952 team going to the playoffs too, the final year for the postseason until 1969.
Therein is my rift with using only AAA recognized conference years. The AAA does not recognize the 1-1 playoff mark of 1947 season – beating Siloam Springs and losing to Forest City – or the 1952 playoff games, a win over Nashville and loss to Searcy, in its official playoff record for Booneville.
So, in case you’re wondering, the playoff record, according to me, is 63-37 not 61-35.