First, the biggest crowd to see a high school football game in Arkansas — at least in modern times and as far as anyone can remember — turned out at War Memorial Stadium on Saturday night to witness Springdale’s convincing 54-20 win over West Memphis for the Class AAAAA state title. Springdale in the process may have stamped itself as the best high school team in the state for all time.
The crowd estimate was 25,000, though to our eyes it could have easily been called 30,000 or more. We’re wondering, though, if Tiger Stadium had been larger, whether a figure that high would have been recorded for some of those Little Rock-Pine Bluff games of the 1930s, as Brian Cox If you failed to arrive 45 minutes before Saturday’s game, you met incredibly long ticket lines that began wrapping around the stadium. Even worse, the stadium did not seem prepared for the crowd inside as well, as fans had 30-minute waits at the concession lines.
About a half-hour after the football game ended, bars around town and the Riverdale 10’s largest screening room were filling up with fans to see if Jermain Taylor could retain his middleweight boxing championship. The Arkansas Times co-sponsored the event at Riverdale, where the HBO pay-per-view telecast was shown, and the room was full, save for a few empty seats on the front row in front of the large silver screen (many other fight fans stood in back or on the sides).
This time, there was no doubt about Taylor’s decision over Bernard Hopkins. All three judges in Las Vegas called it 115-113 Taylor; loser and whiner Hopkins went on and on about how well he fought, how Taylor got in a couple of shots, and that the judges must not have seen the last two rounds right; and the crowd in the Riverdale 10 erupted in joy as the announcement was read by Michael Buffer.
Now, Team Taylor promises the next fight, sometime this spring, will be at Alltel Arena. In lieu of another parade, the best way to honor our champion would be to turn out en masse for his title defense.