By Natalie Heavren
A new school year means a new fall sports season for George Mason High School. Football, cross-country, girl’s volleyball and boy’s golf all find themselves in a similar position adjusting to a new district after the school moved from the 2A to 3A classification.
However, that is where the similarities end for these teams. Boy’s golf will be wrapping up its season soon, while the rest of the teams are just beginning their fall competition.
While cross-country is grounded by their upperclassmen, Mason’s football team is young and looking to continue gaining valuable experience on the field. Girl’s volleyball lies in the middle, with experienced juniors leading the pack.
George Mason’s football team is young and looking to gain experience, with just eight seniors on the team, two of which are first-year football players in the program.
After winning their first two games of the 2018 season, the Mustangs lost the next eight. The losing streak continued into the start of the 2019 season after losses to Falls Church High School and Strasburg High School
According to head coach Adam Amerine, the team hopes to build on the experience that the younger players got last season as freshmen and sophomores. He is counting on those players to step in right away as second-year players.
The team faces another challenge this season; a change of district. This season they moved from 2A to 3A. Mason will face new opponents this fall as well as have the opportunities to renew rivalries with former Bull Run District teams, such as Central High School and Warren County High School, that have moved up in years past.
In addition to competing for 48 minutes, each game Amerine had a goal of building depth at every position during the month of August. This was to prevent facing the same problems in scrambling each week to get players up to speed at a new position due to injury or other circumstances.
“We have talent, we just need to believe in our ability and trust one another to do the job in front of them and be all in with Mason football,” Amerine said.
After a strong August turnout, Amerine believes that the program is headed in the right direction. He added, “We just need to find the fire and heart needed to compete with these more established programs on our schedule.”
Mason’s cross-country team looks to build on their successful season last year and embrace the challenge of a new district.
The boy’s team finished fourth at States, their best finish since 2014, while the girl’s team finished eighth. Individually, Colson Board earned All-State honors as a sophomore last season after finishing 13th.
Both teams are coming back stronger this season according to head coach Jeff Buck, as neither team graduated many seniors. Six of the top 10 athletes on the girl’s side are seniors while five of the top 10 athletes on the boy’s side are juniors.
“The thing I’m most excited about this season is the unknown factor being in a new district and level. I really think we can surprise a lot of teams as long as we stay focused, feed off of each other during the races and continue to work hard in practices.”
Though he is eager to face the challenges of new competition, Buck also acknowledges that adjusting to a new district, region and state classification will be the team’s biggest obstacle this season
Buck’s goals for the season are simple, “Our goals this season are to continue the success of both programs.”
He went on to add, “On both sides, we are looking to be top three at districts and regionals (which will advance us to states as a team).
The boys have qualified for the last three years in a row, while the girls have qualified [every year] for the last 20 years.”
After making the Class 2 state tournament and losing in the first round last year, head coach Derek Baxter is looking forward to seeing how much his team can grow and develop this season.
The Mustangs return a strong core of players after graduating just four players last year.
With much of the current roster having one or two years left to mature, Baxter wants to see his players get stronger and refine their individual talents on the court and in competition.
He is not focused on replicating the team’s run to the state tournament, but rather on growing as a team.
Baxter discussed the team coming together as one unit and “[being in] a growth mindset, in regards to the actions we’re taking to get better and to not let our own mistakes control us, but to allow us to grow further.”
His goal for the team this season is to be the best team they can be no matter what the results may wind up being.
He set this goal with the knowledge that the team cannot necessarily control who they will play, and does not want that to impact the success of the goals they set.
“I’m just excited about getting a chance to work with the players from last year to get them better and stronger and to see what they can do as their own personal growth improvement,” Baxter said.
Mason’s Boy’s Golf team is beginning to wrap up as they opened their regular season schedule in early August.
Head coach Chris Carrico said, “Our team has been competitive in each of our matches/tournaments which has been a great step in the right direction for the program. Our numbers have gone up significantly and we have 40 golfers on our team, which is also great for our program.”
Carrico’s goal for the rest of the season is to perform well at both the District and Regional tournaments. He also wants to see his athletes continue to improve both the teams and their individual scores.
Carrico highlighted three standouts on the team, senior Tucker Gaskins, junior Ryan Fletchall and sophomore Jack Biggs.