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-one other times on the gridiron. So the August 30th renewal of this old rivalry at 7:00 in Mena will be the 83rd meeting between the two schools.
De Queen leads the all-time series with 51 wins. Mena has 26 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.
Last year at Leopard Stadium in De Queen, 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, completed 17 of 26 for 253 yards on the night.
The last time the Bearcats and Leopards squared off in Mena to open the 2017 season, Mena throttled the Leopards 41-6. Justin Dean had a 92 yard kick-off return for a score, and rushed seven times for 114 yards and a touchdown. Carson Cannon threw two touchdown passes, and ran for a third to pace the Bearcats.
The Bearcats have won five of the last nine meetings between these two old rivals.