After last week’s game in Mena was postponed, the Mansfield 7th Grade Tigers finally got their chance to step onto the football field as a single unit on Monday night. As will all 7th Grade programs, the Tigers had a short amount of time to ready themselves with the newness of playing at this level, but they weren’t about to back down from the opportunity. With only two 20 minute halves to play, both Mansfield and Mena were set to show their stuff.
Mansfield’s defense took to the field first and kicked things off with a big hit and takedown by Zander Walters and Dominic Shores. The Tigers stood their ground holding the bearcats to minimal gains at first, but Mena’s top-end speed won the race as they rounded the corner and turned on the heat for the first score of the game. The Tiger’s defense might have been down, but they weren’t going to stop grinding. With Tigers flying to the ball on every occasion, Mansfield held Mena’s offense hostage for most of the rest of the first half. Big perimeter tackles by Walters, Dawson Robinson, Alex Hecox, and Cooper Edwards, forced the Bearcats to rethink their game plan.
Mansfield’s defense was caught off guard when Mena went from the run game and made a quick pass which led to a touchdown putting the Tigers down 14-0 with 42 seconds left in the half. With time running out, some teams would take it to the half to rest, but not this 7th Grade squad. When the Tigers offense lined up and snapped the ball with only 36 seconds on the clock, it was evident that they were not going to lay down that easy. Quarterback, Cooper Edwards, hit a double-covered Walters with a direct pass and Walters spun out of not one but two tackles to burn a path for Mansfield’s first touchdown of their 2020 season. This put Mansfield in striking distance only down 14-6 going into the half.
The Tigers started out in the second half with the ball, but Mena’s defense lasered in on the Tigers receivers and running backs each play. Mansfield’s defense was able to hold the Bearcats offensive speedsters at bay for most of the half with Logan Newman, Ethan Martin, and James Bausley, making excellent team and solo tackles, but they slipped on a play allowing Mena to put points on the board again bringing the score to 22-6 Bearcats. With the heat, penalties, and first game jitters in full force, the Tigers continued to push forward but to no avail. The Tigers offense got caught up in an all-out blitz by Mena and lost the ball to a pick-6 interception pushing the Tigers down to the game’s final score of 28-6 Mena.
Although a win would have been great, it just wasn’t in the cards. Now the 7th Grade crew will review their mistakes, make adjustments, and prepare for what is up next. The Tigers will host their Scott County foes, the Waldron Bulldogs, on Thursday, September 3rd at 5:30 pm in what is sure to be a barn burner.