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Bearcat opener kicks off with old rival

Staff Report

Bearcats will travel to DeQueen Friday, Aug. 28 for their non-conference season opener against the Leopards at 7 p.m.

Last year in Mena, the Bearcats shut out the Leopards 36-0. Jake Wiles rushed for 132 yards on 11 carries, including a 50 yard scoring run to get the Bearcats rolling. Quarterback Max Montgomery completed 13 of 22 passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Mason Brotherton had four receptions for 59 yards and two scores. The stifling Bearcat defense shut out the Leopards and limited De Queen to 115 yards in total offense.

The last time the Bearcats and Leopards squared off in De Queen to open the 2018 season, the Bearcats rallied with 22 unanswered second half points to erase a 14-6 De Queen halftime lead, as Mena posted a come back 28-14 victory. Quarterback Max Montgomery threw three touchdown passes in the second half to lead the way. Montgomery hooked up with Andrew Graves for 48 yards, connected with Nick Lynch for 26 yards, and wrapped up the scoring with a 26 yard toss to Zane Stephens. Montgomery, a sophomore making his first high school start in 2018, completed 17 of 26 for 253 yards on the night.

The Bearcats have won six of the last ten meetings between these two old rivals, including the last three in a row.

The first football game ever played in Mena was on November 23, 1912. De Queen was the opponent, and M.H.S. prevailed with a 20-6 victory. To put the history of this rivalry into proper perspective, 1912 was the year that the Titanic sank! The game was played at the Polk County Fairgrounds, which at that time was located on nine acres, where now Union Bank, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Diamond Bank are among the businesses located. It was at Pickering Avenue and U.S. Highway 71. Teams had to play games near the Kansas City Southern railway for travel purposes, since roads were practically non-existent in 1912.

Since that initial contest back in 1912, Mena and De Queen have battled eighty-three other times on the gridiron. So the August 28th renewal of this old rivalry at 7:00 in Leopard Stadium will be the 84th meeting between the two schools.

De Queen leads the all-time series with 51 wins. Mena has 27 victories. There have been five ties over the decades.

The two schools have played annually since 1948. Mena and De Queen on the gridiron was a Thanksgiving Day tradition in the late 1940’s through most of the 1950’s.

Beginning in 1960, the two schools opened the season for one another. That tradition ended in 1998, when the Leopards moved into the Bearcats conference. The season-opening tradition resumed in 2010 as again, the Bearcats and Leopards are non-conference opponents.

Photo Courtesy of Mena Public Schools

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