CONWAY, AR -- Conway is located in the central part of Arkansas, 30 miles north of Little Rock, and 32 miles from Little Rock National Airport. The city is 150 miles west of Memphis, TN, and 125 miles east of Fort Smith, AR. Conway, directly off Interstate 40, is one of the fastest growing cities in Arkansas, with a current population of nearly 60,000. The city is home to one university and two colleges. First Security Field at Estes Stadium, home for the UCA football program since 1939, was rebuilt from the ground up on the west side and reopened for the 1998 season. The stadium has three levels of offices, training rooms, locker rooms, meeting rooms, the UCA Sports Hall of Fame room and press box, all behind a brick facade to match the other campus buildings. The new purple and gray turf was installed in the summer of 2011, giving the Bears the most unique playing surface in the nation. The renovated visitors side of Estes Stadium opened for the 2003 season. The facility features a new visitors’ dressing room, new restrooms and concession stands and new entrances to the stadium. A brick and wrought iron fence connects the two sides on the North and South ends. Along with those renovations, a new videoboard was installed in 2007. The crown jewel of the east side of the stadium is a dozen luxury skyboxes above the seating area that opened in the fall of 2012. UCA’s athletic administration offices are located directly below them on the fourth floor of Bear Hall. The Bears finished last season ranked as high as No. 8 in the national polls, and begin the 2013 season as high as No. 7. Central Arkansas has finished in the Top 25 in four of their seven Division I seasons. Central Arkansas head coach Clint Conque, the Central Arkansas career wins leader, is two victories shy of his 100th, entering the season at 98-54 (.635). Frank Broyles (144 wins at Arkansas) is the only Division I football coach to eclipse the 100- win mark at an Arkansas university. Since making the move to Division I in 2006, the Bears have compiled a 31-13 record against Southland teams, a .705 winning percentage. Central Arkansas is the only Southland program to record three 9-win seasons during that time period. The Bears have not lost at home since putting down the purple-and-gray striped turf prior to the 2011 season, putting their home win streak at 12. During the past six seasons, the Bears have the most home victories (33) and highest home winning percentage (.818) among all Southland teams, and is the only team to go undefeated at home in three seasons (2008, 2011 and 2012) during that time. Quarterback Wynrick Smothers returns for his senior season after becoming the second Central Arkansas quarterback to be named Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year, following Nathan Brown (2007 and Player of the Year in 2008), who is now the Bears’ quarterbacks coach. Smothers threw for 3,103 yards and tied a school record with 31 touchdown passes while completing 64.9 percent of his passes, and gained another 449 yards on the ground with three rushing touchdowns. The Bears’ offense has been consistently prolific during their time in the Southland, averaging 3,139 passing yards and 25 touchdowns per season since joining the league, with a 3,000-yard passer in four of the past six seasons and three different quarterbacks throwing for 30 or more touchdowns in a season during the last five years. Sophomore defensive end Jonathan Woodard, a Freshman All-American in 2012, has been selected as a Sporting News Preseason All-American for 2013. The Bears placed five players on the preseason “Watch Lists” for the 2013 season, including QB Wynrick Smothers, DE Jonathan Woodard, DB Jestin Love, PK Eddie Camara and TE Chase Dixon. Smothers made both the College Football Performance Awards list and the Walter Payton Award list, while Love was on the CFPA list as well as the Buck Buchanan Award list. UCA took home four of the seven postseason awards in the Southland Conference after the 2012 season: Clint Conque was Coach of the Year; Jonathan Woodard was Freshman of the Year; Corey Howard was Offensive Lineman of the Year, and Wynrick Smothers was Offensive Player of the Year.
The Bears are kicking off their season tonight at Estes Stadium. For more information on the UCA Bears click here.