BY RICK WRIGHT –
The Mena Bearcats came away from Waldron with a 31-18 victory on a stormy night to improve to 2-1 on the season.
“I was disappointed in our execution at times. You tend to do that sometimes when you’re playing a team that you believe you’re better than,” said Bearcat Head Football Coach Tim Harper. “But, when you get right down to it, Waldron has improved a lot! With that said, I was a little disappointed that we should have finished the game a little quicker, not had as many penalties. We ended up having 307 yards of total offense. We rushed for 206 yards and we threw for 101 yards.”
The Bearcat offense seemed more balanced than those numbers indicate at Waldron. But those numbers are not bad.
“No, Justin Dean rushed for 100 yards for the first time this year,” said Harper. “He did it on 10 carries. He had a touchdown rushing, then he also had a touchdown on a punt return. We consider him our Offensive Player of the Game. The Defensive Player of the Game was Elijah Snider who had 10 or 11 tackles, forced a fumble and had a fumble recovery that he may have returned for a touchdown had it not been for an inadvertent whistle. He also had an interception. It was a good night for him.”
Overall Carson Cannon played pretty well.
“He was 50 percent, he missed a couple of passes,” said Harper. “But for the most part he took care of the ball. That’s the thing I want out of him most. He’s playing a lot better than he did last year. You can see some growth and development. We’ve still got to improve on some of these guys when we get some guys wide open, we need to be able to hit them. We’ve missed on about three that were sure touchdowns over the last three weeks if we just get the ball close.”
Cannon threw a nice ball to Ty Cole for a 39 yard touchdown at Waldron.
“That was pretty,” said Harper. “We’re capable of that on a regular basis, we just have got to finish the plays. It’s not like they laid down that play. We just caught it at the right time, it was third down and nine on that play and we get 39!”
“We’ve got to get everybody performing at their top level on every play,” said Harper. “That’s something we’ve got to get more consistent in our effort, from offensive line to skill kids. One of the things that’s killing us on skill on our offensive side of the ball is we’re not getting our spacing right. We have some little things like that, that we’ve got to improve on.”
“You rush for 206 yards on 28 carries, almost seven and half yards per carry, you can’t gripe about the offensive line,” said Harper. “But the truth is, we were playing a team that’s hoping to get into the playoffs, not a team that’s capable of winning the State Championship. On the rest of our schedule, out of the next seven games we’ve probably got five teams that’s capable of not only making it to the playoffs, but probably making it several rounds. Out of the next seven weeks, we play five top 10 teams. If we want to win some games, we’re going to have to get consistent in a hurry.
Ashdown has beaten Monticello and Hope before loosing by one point to Hamburg.
“Ashdown runs an offense that’s very similar to us,” said Harper. “They probably throw it more than we do right now. They have several Division I athletes that have been offered scholarships. The truth is, it doesn’t score any points and it doesn’t make any tackles. So if our kids show up and play physical and play tough, hard nosed, one play at a time, we’ll have a chance to win the game regardless of what supposed talent they have.”
“The key for us is getting everybody playing hard every snap,” said Harper. “You can’t just play hard when we’re running behind you. You’ve got to play hard when the ball is being run away from you, too. There were several times on film, this past week, where we’d be running the ball and a defender from the backside is the one making the tackle. That’s what we’ve got to improve on. We’ve got a lot to work on. Getting rid of the silly penalties that hurt us. I got frustrated Friday night because at halftime I talked to them about that silly stuff. That’s what beat us at De Queen. Then we go out there and it isn’t very long and we get into a scuffle out there. We just talked about that and here it is third quarter and you’re doing it anyway? What happens to you is more important than what happens to our team? No.”
Connor Hendricks blocked a kick and almost scooped the ball and scored.
“It would have been sweet had he went,” said Harper. “It was a great play, great individual effort. But that play didn’t happen Friday night. That play will probably happen Tuesday afternoon when we’re talking to them about the line up for punt, what we need to do, where we need to stretch out. That was being prepared on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and taking it to the field on Friday. Very proud of him and the effort he’s been giving us, just doing a great job. Expect to see more of that in the future.”