Top 5 Countdown: Up-And-Coming Teams To Keep An Eye On In The 2019 Season

To help you count down the days until football season arrives, the 5NEWS Sports crew has put together 11 different countdowns looking at players, coaches and games to be looking forward to this fall.

On Saturday night we took a look at the five up-and-coming teams who may surprise you entering the new season.

#5: Mena Bearcats

Craig Bentley joins the squad after taking Mansfield to its best season since 2010 - so he knows a thing or two about building a program. Tie that in with quarterback Max Montgomery who passed for 2,000+ yards a season ago, and DB Marc Wilson who averaged 23 yards per catch last season, and this Bearcat squad looks a lot like the 2014 team who finished as state runner-up.

#4: Rogers Mounties

Rogers hasn't won more than seven games in a season since 2006. Hunter Loyd comes in for his senior campaign as one of the top quarterbacks in Arkansas, and the rest of the Mounties follow under his command. Depth in the skill positions and line could also boost Rogers in the scrappy 7A-West as they look to prove they can compete with the best.

#3: Northside Grizzlies

Northside took a trip to the semifinals for the first time since 2005 last season, and the Grizzlies aren't looking to slow down any time soon. Northside's success starts with its defense - all centered around Khaden Washington, who racked up 45 tackles last season. Last years playoff run has the Griz hungry for more.

#2: Mansfield Tigers

Mansfield made the playoffs for the first time since 2011 last year, and the turnaround topped with returning talent and experience puts the Tigers in our number two slot. All-state quarterback Ethan Stovall threw for more than 2,300 yards a season ago, and eight players return on defense. Anyone who has Mansfield on their schedule this season will likely want to circle them as one to watch out for.

#1: Har-Ber Wildcats

The top up-and-coming team goes out to Har-Ber, who finished 2-8 after forfeiting three games last season and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006. However, the Wildcats are already scratching back - winning the Elite 7-on-7 Tournament this summer with a 14-2 record. Jay Burns is one of the top RBs in the area, picking up 867 yards and eight touchdowns last year. Put him alongside receiver Hunter Wood who caught 29 passes for 568 yards and seven touchdowns, and Har-Ber has its eyes set on bringing home the conference championship once again.

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