Tech Tidbits: 1971 Wonder Boys Set the Standard

1971 Wonder Boys Team Photo
Team photo of the 1971 Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys.

The passage of time has done nothing to remove the luster from the historic achievements recorded by the 1971 Arkansas Tech football team.

Behind a vaunted wishbone attack and a nearly impenetrable defense, the Wonder Boys of Arkansas Polytechnic College finished the 1971 regular season with an unblemished record of 11-0.

Arkansas Tech romped to the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference title, outscoring its six league opponents by a cumulative score of 229-84, and finished as NAIA national runner-up with an overall record of 12-1.

The 12 wins and the national championship game appearance are distinctions held by the 1971 Arkansas Tech team that are unmatched in the 106-season history of the program.

This weekend’s ATU Homecoming celebration includes the 50th anniversary reunion for a group of Wonder Boys who stand among the greatest teams not only in Arkansas Tech history, but in the history of NAIA/NCAA Division II football in Arkansas.

“To have those former players show up and be supportive, it means a lot to our current players,” said Kyle Shipp, ATU head football coach. “We want to get to the point where we can have a team that is worthy of a 50-year anniversary celebration. That is the goal. Maybe having those guys from the 1971 team around will rub some good luck on us and motivate our guys.”

The 2021 Wonder Boys face the unenviable Homecoming Saturday task of defending a Henderson State University offense that ranks fifth in NCAA Division II in scoring (43.9 points per game).

Kickoff for ATU (2-5) and nationally 20th-ranked HSU (6-1) is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville. Pre-game coverage on KCJC 102.3 FM and will begin at 1:30 p.m.

“(HSU) has an NFL receiver (L’Liott Curry), so if you want to see what that looks like today is the day,” said Shipp. “They are as good as what Curry and (quarterback Adam Morse) do. If they are making plays down field, they are really good those days. I don’t think you can stop them, but you have to be able to contain them.”

Talk to you on the radio.

Tech Tidbits is a column written by Sam Strasner, ATU director of university relations and radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.