Mason High Football Booted from Region 2A East Playoffs
By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s varsity football team was eliminated from the Region 2A East playoffs last Friday after being overwhelmed by Robert E. Lee High School of Staunton in a 35-12 loss. The Mustangs trailed the Leemen by as much as 31 points in the match as they had trouble containing senior quarterback Javon Chisley and junior running back Marcus Warren.
The Leemen were up 14-0 with 5:23 left to go in the first quarter after Warren scored from 9 yards and 1 yard out at the end of their first two drives. The Mustangs stalled out in each of their first two drives and gave the Leemen good field position to start those drives.
“That really hurt us. Field position was hurting us,” said Head Coach Tony Green. “We couldn’t get anything going and then we would punt, and then [in] two plays they were in [the end zone], two plays they were in. It was huge against us.”
The Mustangs looked like they were going to keep up with the Leemen in the first quarter when senior quarterback Grant Hagler connected with junior wide receiver Alfonso Banks for a 30-yard touchdown pass. But the extra point was blocked by the Leemen, who retained a 14-6 lead and were about to expand it.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Mustangs finally forced the Leemen to start a drive in their own territory. Robert E. Lee sophomore running back Zachary Simmons caught the kickoff at the Leemen 6-yard line and returned it for 11 yards.
After a few small runs to start out their drive, Chisley broke a 58-yard run that took the Leemen offense down to the Mustangs’ 16-yard line. Warren scored his third touchdown of the night on the very next play and, after the Leemen made their extra point, put the Leemen ahead 21-6. That was the score at the end of the first half.
Chisley scored twice in the second half – on a 34-yard run with 5:45 left in the third quarter and on a 3-yard run about two minutes later – to put the Leemen ahead 35-6. Hagler connected with senior running back Jacob Eye for a 20-yard score in the fourth quarter to bring the final score a little closer.
The Leemen gave up 58 yards on six penalties in the first half while the Mustangs had only two penalties called against them for a total of 10 yards.
“If we play like that next week, it’s over,” said David Tibbs, head coach of the Leemen. “I mean it’s plain and simple; I’m frustrated and it’s embarrassing.”
The Leemen move on to face the still undefeated team from Clarke County High School this Friday at Clarke County. The Eagles beat Luray High School 42-7 last Friday in the first round of the playoffs.
Despite a big loss in what became the final game of the season for the Mustangs, Hagler, who played his final game with the program, was pleased with the outcome of the season.
“I mean I came to this school my freshman year and I played varsity all those years and I was 3-27 coming into this year, and I don’t know what happened,” Hagler said. “I think something just clicked in; these guys learned how to play as a team, and I think that was essential to our success this year.”
The Mustangs’ accomplishments this season, earning the first winning record in the program since 2009 and first playoff berth since 2006, were good, Green said, but aren’t enough.
“I think this is a good step,” Green said. “But I’d still like to think we’ve got room to grow. Making it to the playoffs losing your [first] playoff game isn’t fun either.”