Original No.16 star QB
Before Mustain, Greenlee took Springdale High to ’82 state championship.
FAYETTEVILLE — Doug Greenlee could be the answer to a trivia question.
“Who is the first star quarterback at Springdale High to wear No. 16?”
Most would answer Mitch Mustain, the USA Today Player of the Year who led the Bulldogs to national prominence and an undefeated state championship season. That answer would be wrong.
The correct answer is Doug Greenlee, who famously wore No. 16 first and earned a number of accolades himself more than 20 years before Mustain suited up and snapped on a helmet with the unique red ‘S’ on each side.
“I actually coached those boys when they were growing up,” Greenlee said of Mustain and that well-documented 2005 Springdale senior class. “That was a good group and obviously (Gus) Malzahn was a good coach.”
Did Greenlee let Mustain know that he
was the original No. 16?
“I did,” Greenlee laughed.
In 1982 Springdale was a one highschool town, and all the boys in town wanted to be a Bulldog. Former coach Jarrell Williams, whose name now adorns the football stadium, had built a powerhouse program with tough-as-nails players who played every snap to the whistle and then some.
“He was a real good coach,” Greenlee said. “He was the silent type and as long as you did your job, he didn’t say much.”
Williams came from the old school of football where the best teams played tough defense and ran the ball almost every play. It was a simple strategy that led to much success for the Red’Dogs.
Greenlee made the coach change that philosophy, even putting in a shotgun offense that was unheard of then.
“I think we were the first team to do that,” Williams said. “I don’t recall anyone else doing it. We were not known for being a passing team, but he really changed that for us.”
Williams said the coaching strategy was simple: “Get him the ball and let him do what he wants to do.”
Springdale lost twice that season, dropping the second game of the year to Rogers 107, then falling to Little Rock Central 25-7 right before the playoffs. But the Bulldogs also knocked off then No. 1 Fort Smith Northside 107, and hung a 28-0 loss on bitter rival Fayetteville with Greenlee passing for all four touchdowns.
The Bulldogs hosted El Dorado in the first round of the playoffs and found themselves in a dogfight in the fourth quarter. Springdale took over at its 6 and trailed by a touchdown as the clock moved down.
Williams said he called a draw play on first down because El Dorado had keyed on stopping Greenlee the entire game. The draw worked for 30 yards, and Greenlee did the rest, leading the team to a late touchdown by passing to Scott Turner for the score and adding the two-point conversion pass to pull out an 18-17 win.
“I guess he saw it, and thought he had some different types of athletes and saw it as an opportunity to do other things,” Greenlee said of the offensive change. “We had some good receivers, and a great offensive line. All big guys for that time. We tried some things in practice and in practice games that we’d never tried before and we actually started using them in games.”
Springdale went on to defeat Texarkana the next week, then defeated West Memphis in the championship game the following week 10-7. That season was the last time state championship games were played on home fields as West Memphis hosted the game.
Greenlee earned all-state honors that season and was named the quarterback on the AP Super Team after passing for 1,552 yards and 16 touchdowns. He added five more rushing touchdowns and was elected to the all-star game. He was recruited by Arkansas, TCU and Mississippi State, and signed with Arkansas. He later transferred to Arkansas Tech, where he played for three seasons for the Wonder Boys.
It all came full circle for Greenlee after he moved from Van Buren back to Northwest Arkansas. His son, Russ, was a key member of the 2005 Springdale championship team, led by Mustain.
“That was wonderful to watch,” he said.
Greenlee graduated from Arkansas Tech after taking 60 hours in one year — 18 hours for three semesters and 12 for another — and went to work for Tyson Foods, where he spent 16 years. He has spent the last 12 years at Twin Rivers Foods.
He has three children, including
daughters Robin and Anna, and four grandchildren.
He also lives in Elm Springs, close to the area where he grew up wanting to be a Bulldog.
Springdale High quarterback Doug Greenlee (16) rolls out to pass against Fort Smith Southside on Oct. 8, 1982. Greenlee led the Bulldogs to a state championship that season, passing for 1,552 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Doug Greenlee, former Springdale High quarterback who led the Bulldogs to a state championship in 1982, in his office at Twin Rivers Foods in Fayetteville.
Springdale High quarterback Scott Greenlee (16) talks with a Springdale coach Sept. 10, 1982, during a game against Rogers.