85.8 F
Fort Smith
Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Mansfield Coach Craig Bentley Is Headed Home

Arkansas River Valley Business Directory

On Tuesday, June 18, as news broke that Mansfield Head Football Coach Craig Bentley would be hanging up his Tigers coaching hat, a quiet sadness spread across the town. After three incredible roller-coaster seasons, Craig and Sarah Bentley would be going back home to Mena.

Coach Bentley has accepted the head coaching position at his Alma Mater after the Bearcats recently lost three of their football coaches including head coach Tim Harper. Before becoming a Mansfield Tiger, Bentley had been the Bearcats defensive coordinator for five seasons.

During his first two seasons in Mansfield 3A football, Coach Bentley ended both years with a 2-8 record. But it was the 2018-2019 football season that Craig Bentley put the Tigers on the map. Not only was Mansfield having their best football season in years, but they were also securing a name for themselves in high school football. The Tigers ended the season with an 8-4 record and Bentley taking his team to the second round of State.

Mena has always been home for Craig and Sarah Bentley with both of them growing up together in the quiet little town. After high school graduation in 2003, Craig headed off the Henderson State in Arkadelphia while Sara took route to Arkansas Tech in Russellville. But it didn’t take long for the two to find themselves longing for home. Sarah made her way back to Mena in 2006 with Craig following suite in 2008.

It wasn’t long before the Bentleys found themselves packing their bags again as Sarah moved to Fort Smith to finish school and Craig took his first coaching job in Pea Ridge as their defensive coordinator. In 2009, Craig spent two seasons with Springdale High School before he and Sarah returned yet again to Bearcat Country.

Craig Bentley-Mansfield-Football-Mena-Arkansas
Coach Bentley and player Bri Sanderson

As odd as it sounds, the town of Manfield is in a sense of mourning. Coach Bentley stepped into a position that not very many other candidates were breaking the door down to take. He took on a sports program that was down and out on itself and brought it back to life. Slowly but surely through hard work and perseverance, Coach Bentley was able to bring school spirit back into the homes of Tiger fans and paint the town red again.

“Even though I am extremely sad to see all of the Bentley’s go, I am very excited for them to have the opportunity to go home,” said Cheer Coach, Allie Dake. “Those types of opportunities don’t come around often, but if anyone deserves it, it is them. I wish them the very best of luck and am thankful for everything they have done for our school and myself personally. We were all blessed to have them for the short time that we did.”

Friends inside and outside of the gym, Joshua Bryan, had this to say about his fellow coach. “My funniest memory of Coach Bentley is when we had a coaches vs. students basketball game and he bit the dust like a toddler that tried to run before he could walk. It still makes me laugh from time to time. Coach Bentley brought a lot of school spirit to our community. He is a great administrator and someone who anyone could easily work under. He is always willing to do whatever it takes to help kids and peers alike to be successful. I’m happy he’s able to go back home but he will surely be missed around here.”

One senior high football player had this to say about his coach. “The best thing about Coach Bentley coming here, was that he immediately got to work and started getting things done for the football team. He got us new weights and weight benches and even got us upgraded lockers. One thing is for sure. The upcoming football season just won’t be the same without seeing him throw his headset at almost every game. I really appreciate everything he did for us.”

Fellow Mansfield Coach, Keith Dake, had this to say about the recent news of his friend. “When Coach Bentley was hired and we first met, I knew he was a guy that was passionate about his job, sport, and kids. Something that honestly helped bring us closer together as a staff. Throughout the years we formed an unbreakable bond filled with lots of fun and plenty of shenanigans. Whether we were finishing each other’s sentences, critiquing superhero movies, or repeating iconic movie one-liners that the kids never understood, we always had a good time doing what we loved.”

“Often times, I would sneak into his office, where he would have plays drawn on his whiteboard and of course I would have to draw a few of my own, being the football mastermind that I am,” Coach Dake exclaims with a smile. “Needless to say he never did use my plays. Coach Bentley did a lot more than just coach football. He helped bring the town of Mansfield together in a way that I haven’t seen in well over a decade. Attendance is up at all events, community pride in the schools and students is on a steady rise, and Coach Bentley was leading the force, challenging staff, community members, and athletes to be steadily involved.”

Craig Bentley addresses the Mansfield Tigers regarding his departure
Tiger Tyler Holmes and Coach Craig Bentley

Very few people actually know just how much this man has done for our schools and our kids. During his time with the Tigers, Coach Bentley has been the ray of hope that was much needed while also blessing the many lives of the people that he came in contact with, including my own. Although it will be tough to watch the Bentleys go, in the end, home is where the heart is.

In one last Mansfield Tiger final statement, Coach Craig Bentley had this to say. “My family and I would like to thank the entire Mansfield community for welcoming us in and supporting our mission to make Red Tiger football the best it can be. Thank you to our administrators and school board for the vision and support to help the program grow and continue to grow. Thank you to Coach Stovall, Coach Payne, and Coach Cothran. Those guys have worked tirelessly for the betterment of the kids. They have been supportive and are great leaders and Christian examples for the kids to follow. Most of all, thank you to the players…past and present…for your dedication to the program! Without great kids, the growth our program has had in these past three years isn’t possible. The future is bright, the standard is set and Red Tiger football will continue to be on the rise. Thank you, Mansfield!”

- Paid Partnership -spot_imgspot_img
Latest news
- Paid Advertisement -spot_img
- Paid Advertisement -spot_img
Related news
- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_img