MENA (KFSM)– Last year was a successful rebounding year for Mena. After only finishing with three wins in 2015 season, the Bearcats made a comeback in 2016 closing with a winning season and an appearance in the playoffs.
“It was a hard fall going from 12 wins (2015) to three that was brutal,” said Mena coach Tim Harper. “It was a good rebound last year and we feel like we have a little bit of a spring more going into this season.”
There were a handful of games last year that Mena was close to winning, but simple mistakes held them back from securing the victory. Harper believes that now with a year of experience under their belts, they won't repeat those mistakes this season.
"We were a young team last year and fairly inexperienced in some areas so we lost a couple of close games," said Harper. "Our first game we lost to De Queen 25-21 and turned the ball inside the five three times. That's a game we felt like we should have won. If we make those things right, hopefully this year we will have a great season."
Mena returns three three-year starters this fall including their quarterback Carson Cannon and two-time all-conference running back Justin Dean. Cannon threw for more than 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, while also rushing for over 1,000 yards. Dean, who plays on both sides of the ball, ran for 41 scores the past two years. Dean also rushed for 1,250 yards and had 900 yards receiving this past year. The versatile senior not only leads the team in stats, he also leads the team by example.
"I just try to boost everybody's confidence," said Dean. "It's a team mentality and if the teams down and you have one player that's trying to help everybody, than everyone will start to feed off of him and mirror his enthusiasm."
The Bearcats plan for the season is work towards a second straight playoff appearance. This time with more wins on their record heading into the postseason.
"We always want to go undefeated at home that's a goal we always set," said Harper. "We want to make the playoffs, we want to be a high seed and host a playoff game."
Mena will open the season at home against De Queen on September the 1st at 7:00 p.m.