Sports

George Mason High Football Gearing Up for 2010 Season

masnofootballpracticeThe cries of “let’s go”, “heads up”, “get moving” and various other motivating yells burst through the air like fireworks at Moore-Cadillac Stadium at George Mason High School. Practices have begun for the football team and the squad’s first scrimmage with a rival school is this Friday.

masnofootballpractice

GEORGE MASON HIGH SCHOOL football Head Coach Tom Horn watches over drills during pre-season practice. (Photo: News-Press)

The cries of “let’s go”, “heads up”, “get moving” and various other motivating yells burst through the air like fireworks at Moore-Cadillac Stadium at George Mason High School. Practices have begun for the football team and the squad’s first scrimmage with a rival school is this Friday.

“We’ve got a lot of new inexperienced guys this year, but the returning kids that we do have understand the system, so we can build the team around them and they’ll help the new players get accustomed to it.” says Mason High head coach Tom Horn.

Horn, like any other high school football coach, has his work cut out for him. The disparity in height, weight and motivation can greatly differ between players. Watching a 5 ft. 4 in. player who may weigh 90 pounds soaking wet trying to tackle a six foot player who may have a part-time job as a Greek statue can look funny to an outsider, but his attempt, although valiant, could result in his being decimated by a larger varsity opponent in an actual game, where emotions run high and players have to deal with the motivation or the jeers of a few hundred parents, friends and alumni.

“We’re lucky enough to not have the kind of atmosphere where the parents are so obsessed with their child’s team that they push them extremely hard and are constantly criticizing one thing or another that may have gone wrong on the field.” says Horn.

“Parents definitely like to see their kids play, and the addition of the lights (donated by, and the reason why a high-school stadium is named after a car dealership) helps create a kind of ‘Friday Night Lights’ atmosphere, but without the pressure of one of those huge football high schools in Texas or Oklahoma, so we’re lucky enough to almost get the best of both worlds.” he added.

The players run the gamut from tiny to large, from somewhat slow to blindingly fast, and from those who appear to be going through the motions to those who seem intensely motivated. But come the home opener against Stuart High on September 3, these players will be molded into modern-day underage gladiators who are driven to games by their parents and to glory by themselves and their teammates.

The Mustangs play a Wing-T offensive formation, a popular choice among high school and small college teams. Horn claims that this style allows the players on the field to effectively and consistently move the ball by emphasizing the running game.

“Frankly, we just don’t have the pool to draw from like bigger schools do, so it’s pretty hard to find a 16 or 17-year old kid who can throw pinpoint passes. But a lot of the kids we have are fast enough that we can just hand them the ball, provide some defense and they can take it pretty far up the field.”

When asked if he was worried about his style of offensive being read about by other teams, Horn just laughed.

“We’ve been playing this style for a long time. I could give an opposing coach fourteen years of video footage from games and practices if they wanted it, but that doesn’t mean they’d be able to stop us. I’d actually be more worried if they didn’t figure out what style we were playing.”

Like all football coaches, Coach Horn says one of the great difficulties of the job is motivating players.

“They’re all motivated in their own way,” says Horn, “but each player is motivated in a slightly different way than any other player. Some of them need constant encouragement so that they will see their strengths being appreciated. Other players don’t need that encouragement and have internal motivation to play the game or compete or try to get an athletic scholarship or whatever. The trick is to get them all to internalize that desire to win and to improve in some way so that all we need to do is teach them a particular play or a method and then put them out on the field to perform.”

“These guys all want to win and improve, so even though they’re inexperienced, I’m excited to work with them and get out on the field.” Horn added.

However, it wouldn’t be a true sports profile if the Mustangs’ arch-rival was not included. The Clarke County Eagles finished last season with a 10-1 record, including a 48-0 rout of the Mustangs, and were 4-0 in the district. But both teams seem to be two sides of the same coin. Both have great speed, inexperience and a raging inferno of irrational hatred for the other. Horn acknowledges that they’re the team (other than Mason) to beat this year, even though every team is the team to beat during a game.

“They’re a great team and they haven’t lost a district game in something like three years.” Horn explained. “They’re in a similar situation that we are, and the rivalry element is something that adds a lot of depth to the games. I don’t think the rivalry is as ugly as it was in the past (referring to violent instances between players on both teams that occurred several years ago), but it’s definitely still there and games like that give us extra motivation to win.”

“But the fact of the matter is that if we’ve got better players and we want it more, we’re going to win.”

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