2019 Mena Bearcats finished the season 7-4 overall and 4-3 in conference play. Submitted photo.
The Mena Bearcats football team made a long drive and came up short in their first playoff game of the year in the 4A Football Playoffs as the Cats lost to the Gosnell Pirates 40-29. The five-hour drive may have played a part in the loss, but that shouldn’t take anything away from a Gosnell team that played hard and went against their convention of running the ball to score on its first two possessions on passes. In their first possession Gosnell scored on a 65 yard touchdown strike. The Pirates quarterback showed his arm strength with the ball sailing 45 to 50 yards in the air taking the score to 6-0. Gosnell went for two on the conversion and was stopped by TJ Kiser. Gosnell would go for two on the conversion throughout the night, with mixed results. Mena had problems getting the offense to fire early with punts on their first two possessions. Meanwhile The Pirates put another touchdown on the board on a bubble screen and then made the score 14-0 on a succesful two-point conversion try.
On Mena’s third possession and at 3rd and 1 to go Mason Brotheron went into motion and took the snap going through the line and getting a Bearcat first down which proved crucial to Mena getting its first points on the board. Mena had a touchdown called back for a hold which pushed the Cats back to their 12 yard line. On 3rd and goal from the 12 Gaven Hooper scored on a jet sweep to the right. Mena’s Brazilian kicker, Luiz Pessoa, did what he does best, putting points on the board, with his PAT to make the score line 14-7.
In the 2nd quarter the Bearcats 4th ranked defense made some good stops with a TJ Kiser interception and forcing a Gosnell punt, but the Pirates defense came strong as well when a Zane Stephens pass was intercepted and run back to the Mena 10 yard line. Gosnell put six more points on the board with :34 remaining in the half while failing on their two-point conversion. The first half ended with Gosnell up 20-7.
The 3rd quarter was more strong defense from the home side with a touchdown on an interception and a successful two-point conversion taking the game to 28-7 in favor of the host. Gosnell would go on the score in the 3rd quarter on a bobbled ball in the Mena backfield that was run in for six points. Gosnell did a good job of shutting down the Cats outside running game which played to their strengths. Mena made a late run of scoring in the 4th, but it was too late to overcome the deficit. Mena’s 2019 football season ended and the long drive home began.
This Mena team and its season is something the boys and Bearcats parents and fans can be proud of. A new Head Coach came in during the summer with a new staff and built a strong team on short notice. A 7-4 record in a tough conference with a trek to Gosnell for a playoff game. Coach Craig Bentley is building towards a future that is even stronger.