BY EASTON LEONARD –
Under the faithful leadership of Coach Tim Harper, the Mena Bearcats Senior High Football team is set to take on the DeQueen Leopards to start off the season this Friday, September 1st.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SAMANTHA MAECHLER
Tina Walker [LEFT], aka ‘The Bearcats’ Biggest Fan, is as anxious as other fans for the official Bearcat season to kick-off!
Mena comes into this season following a 6-5 season a year ago, in which the team finished 4th in their conference. Last year, the Bearcats lost just four regular season games, but also fell short in their first round playoff game against CAC [Central Arkansas Christian]. In two of their losses, the Bearcats were within four points or less. Heading into 2017, hootens.com ranks Mena as the 5th best team in the 7-4A, and the 20th best team in the 4A as a whole.
Going into this season, the Bearcats are credited with their known experience on the field, including a few three-year starters. Mena’s Head Football Coach Tim Harper said, “The biggest standouts on our team are the three-year starters, Justin Dean, Carson Cannon, and Nick Kent.”
Cannon passed for more than 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns from the quarterback position last fall, and rushed for over 1,000 yards.
Dean, who has received quite a bit of attention from college scouts, ran for 1,250 yards last season, caught 900 yards while receiving, and scored a total of 25 touchdowns. Multiple D1 programs, including Arkansas State University, the University of Memphis, and the University of Arkansas are all eyeing Dean as well as several DII schools in the state. Dean will be looked to help carry a significant role on both offense and defense this year for the Bearcats and continue to assume a position of leadership. “He is a great leader for us on the field. He leads by example and that is what we need,” said Harper.
Coming into town to take on the Bearcats this Friday is DeQueen. The Leopards will try to bounce back in 2017 after finishing last season with a 3-7 record. DeQueen lost their last four games of the 2016 season, and haven’t made the playoffs since 2011. Heading into this year, hootens.com ranks the Leopards as the 7th best team in the 5A South, and just the 27th best team in the 5A.
Expecting the typical faceoff on the gridiron by the Leopards, Harper noted the Bearcats’ opponent will be missing a key player, “They lost Brandon Hagood to an injury from a car wreck and he is recovering in Little Rock last I heard. He is a great player and he is in our prayers.” Harper said his Bearcats will need razor sharp focus in stopping one key player, “The most difficult thing about playing De Queen is slowing down Hunter Earney. He is an amazing player who tends to always make big plays.” Harper joked, “I am glad he is a senior.”
According to Fearless Friday, DeQueen leads the series 11-5 between the two teams in past history. However, in the past seven years, the DeQueen Leopards have won only 18 games combined, while the Bearcats of Mena have won 46 games total.
Harper is confident that the Bearcats have a plan this year that will stop the Leopards down in their tracks, “Our keys to victory are we must take care of the football, and limit missed tackles or assignments on defense. We have to be sound in the kicking game.”
Mena and DeQueen will kickoff at 7:00pm on Friday, September 1st, at Randall Whorton Field inside Bearcat Stadium. You can follow all the play by play action on KQOR 105.3FM, download the app or catch the stream at MyPulseNews.com.