by Kate Karstens
With a crushing 47-0 defeat, the George Mason varsity football team was booted from post-season play in the second round of the Regional Tournament by Clarke County (11-1). The defeat damaged the Mustangs’ record to 8-4 and ended their four-game winning streak.
“That loss doesn’t define our season,” said Mason Head Coach Tony Green. “Clarke is a very good team, but we kept fighting.”
Clarke’s push from the start of the game, scoring a quick touchdown on their first offensive play of the game, foresaw the end.
Although Mason held Clarke to 7-0 in the first quarter, in the second quarter, the Eagles flew past the Mustangs for a 33-0 score at halftime, and finished the game with a score of 47-0.
“I never expect to get blown out because I always have lots of confidence in my teammates but Clarke got the better of us that night,” said junior wide receiver Dustin Green.
However, Mason’s defense did not simply lie down and accept defeat. One of the strongest players on defense was defensive back Green, who, in the first quarter, picked up a Clarke running back off of the ground, only to shove him back into the turf.
“I just tried to put the Clarke runners on the ground whenever I got the chance to try and help limit Clarke’s big plays,” said Green.
Mason’s offense was shut down by the Clarke defense, an unfitting end to the offense’s breakthrough season.
Although Mason underwent a change from last year’s senior veteran quarterback, Sam Selby, to an untested sophomore quarterback, Thomas Creed, the offense excelled last year’s successes.
D’Montae Noble’s ability to run the ball allowed for the connection between Green and quarterback Thomas Creed to develop without a pressure to throw due to Noble’s reliability. This connection was showcased at the Mustang’s game against Warren County, on October 23.
“Our running game allowed our passing game to grow,” said Coach Green. “That’s really a compliment to our offensive line giving our offense time to figure it all out.”
In fact, it was this offensive line that gave Mason’s offense a fighting chance against Clarke. With the work of Patrick Linn, Eduardo Pacheco, and Alexander Dorsey, time and space was given for Noble’s runs and Creed’s throws. The offensive line shut down Clarke’s defensive line, however, Clarke’s linebackers were able to step in and stop Mason’s drives, resulting in the Mustangs’ scoreless game.
The game against Clarke did anything but represent Mason’s growth as a team throughout the season. Despite their early season losses to Sidwell Friends and Luray County, Mason came back with seven wins, the only interruption being the Homecoming loss to Clarke County on October 16.
“That’s the great thing about having those out-of-conference games,” said Green. “They allowed us to find our identity and become strong competitors.”
In fact, Mason’s only District and Conference losses were to Clarke County. Teams like Madison and Warren County who had previously capped Mason at only a couple touchdowns, were demolished with high scoring wins such as 42 and 56, respectively.
Mason’s key departing seniors like Noble, Hunter Sulc, Matthew Mineo, and Justin Thomas will leave crucial roles to fill for the next season.
“We’ve made history and no one can take that away,” said Sulc, describing Mason’s post-season play. “A more fitting end would’ve been us playing to the best of our ability and having a close game.”