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Mena, Arkansas, News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

Bearcats to battle Leopards in home opener

By Jay Bunyard

The first football game ever played in Mena was on Nov. 23, 1912. De Queen was the opponent, and MHS 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 85 other times on the gridiron. The Aug. 25 renewal of this old rivalry will be the 87th meeting between the two schools at 8 p.m. in Mena.

De Queen leads the all-time series with 51 wins. Mena has 30 victories. There have been five ties over the past 12 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 pulled out a thrilling 16-14 victory on a 22-yard field goal by Jair Hernandez as time expired. After the Leopards had taken a 14-13 lead with only 49 seconds to play, quarterback Gabe Corcoran moved the Bearcats 55 yards in six plays to set up the winning kick. On the night, Corcoran completed 10 of 18 for 161 yards and a touchdown. Colby Davis led the tackle charts for Mena with eight stops.

The last time the Bearcats and Leopards squared off in Mena to open the 2021 season, Mena throttled the Leopards 42-7. The Bearcats scored with four seconds to play in the first half on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Austin Rose to Blake Brown to take a 15-0 lead and all the momentum into the locker room at intermission. The Bearcats outscored the Leopards 21-0 in the third quarter to pull away.

Despite the fact De Queen leads the all-time series, the Bearcats have won nine of the last 13 meetings between these two, including the last six in a row.

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