Bentley photo courtesy of Samantha Maechler
The time has come yet again for two upstanding top of the line coaches to come face to face but this time it’s under completely different circumstances. During the 2018 football season, the Mansfield Tigers were headed by Coach Craig Bentley. The Tigers sat in the 3A-1 division while the Waldron Bulldogs, who are coached by Jonathan Bates, play in the 4A-4. So last year’s match-up between these two teams was done as an annual friendly rivalry game. The Tigers took that win 40-7.
Before the start of the 2019 football season, Coach Bentley took over the Mena Bearcats who were previously under the direction of Coach Tim Harper. Last year when Waldron faced Mena the Bearcats dominated the scoreboard with 49 points leaving the Bulldogs with zero. This Friday night though, things could get very interesting.
Coach Bentley and Coach Bates have been friends longer than their players have been alive. Although they have a long history together, come Friday night, all of that goes out the window. This season, the Bulldogs are full of bite and with the Bearcats coming to their house, they aren’t looking to give up the win very easily.
Waldron is sitting with a 1-6 total season record, a 1-3 conference record, and are averaging 21 points a game. Mena holds a 5-2 record in total play, is 2-2 in conference, and is averaging 31 points a game. If the Bulldogs secure the win, they will tie-up their conference record with the Bearcats.
This is what Waldrons Coach Bates had to say about the upcoming battle. “Mena is a tough and physical bunch that is well-coached. We have played hard and successfully put together four quarters in last week’s win against Subiaco. We just lack depth, but we knew that coming into the season. We have been fighting hard for a half all year and would run out of gas in the second half because of our lack of depth and a few injuries.”
“We just try to look at us and see what we can do as individuals and as a team, daily and weekly, to improve. Nobody should overlook our heart, grit, and determination. Mena is going to bring size, speed, and depth to the game on Friday so we are going to have to compete for four quarters and play as a team if we want to secure the win.”
With this being a highly anticipated match, both teams are definitely going to bring nothing less than their A-game. Menas Coach Bentley gave his thoughts on this upcoming Friday night. “This is always a big game for both schools and communities. Each team always gives the other their best shot. Our defense has been performing well this season by preventing big plays and forcing turnovers.”
“Offensively, we are starting to click after having to readjust to some early season injuries in key positions such as Quarterback and Running back. Waldron has some of the best group of skill players (QB, RB, and WR) that we have seen all year. They play hard and have been successful in some big plays this season. For us to take home the “W”, we will have to play disciplined defense, sustain and finish drives, clean-up penalties and execute in the special teams’ department.”
This game is undeniably going to be one for the books. If you are looking for something to do this Friday night, head to Waldron where the Bulldogs will host the Mena Bearcats on Oct 25 at 7 p.m.