Mason Blanks Rappahannock County in Home Opener

Mason senior running back Connor Rhodes pushes past a Rappahannock County defender during the Mustangs’ home and season opener last Friday. Mason beat Rappahannock County, 48-0, and Rhodes scored one of Mason’s touchdowns. (FCCPS Photo/Brad Mills)

By Drew Costley

George Mason High School’s varsity football team won its season and home opener last Friday, 48-0, against Rappahannock County High School. George Mason Head Coach Tony Green, who is in the second year of his second stint coaching the football team, said the Mustangs got off to a quick start against the Panthers.

“Our kids came out fast and did what they were supposed to do,” Green said. “Rappahannock did everything they could do. We just had a lot more talent.”

That’s because the Panthers are a “developing program,” as Green put it, two seasons removed from calling off the 2011 season because of a shortage of players. But the Mustangs, who won only one game during the 2012 season, didn’t go easy on the Panthers.

“Our kids played with good sportsmanship, but they played hard,” Green said. The Mustangs had over 200 rushing yards against the Panthers and got contributions from starting and backup, older and younger players alike. Senior wide receiver Alfonso Banks and junior Nathaniel Ward each scored two touchdowns and senior running back Connor Rhodes scored a touchdown.

Green said he was impressed later in the game by the defensive play of his backup players, who kept the Panthers scoreless after the Mustangs took a substantial lead.

“I think our whole team rallied around that and got the feeling that we were a team,” Green said. “And even if our ‘first-stringers’ weren’t in, our next group would come in and play hard.”

Contributions from more than just the Mustangs’ starting or star players are important signs for Green, who said he is trying to instill a more unified mentality into the football program.

“We have to get rid of ‘I’ and ‘me,’” he said. “And we have to be ‘we’ and ‘ours.’ We are part of the team, and the team is ours.”

The Mustangs’ play against the Panthers was a step towards accomplishing another of Green’s goals for this season. He said he wants the Mustangs to play with intensity for “all four quarters” of every game this season. According to Green, the team would give 100 percent for a quarter, and then lose intensity for the next quarter. So holding the Panthers scoreless, a game after Rappahannock scored six points while giving up 48 points in their season opener was sign of progress.

Green said another of his goals is to get the team to be more accountable for their actions and he is looking to the Mustangs’ senior class to set the example for the rest of the players in terms of accountability.

The Mustangs only have six seniors and a slight majority of the players on the team are underclassmen, making it important for Green to have the senior leadership set an example for the younger players for the future of the program.

“My seniors are buying in which shows my young kids that you need to buy in and if you buy in then we’ll have success,” Green said. The Mustangs play at Wakefield High School tomorrow night.