By Natalie Heavren
George Mason High School Football bounced back from its loss to Warren County High School to narrowly defeat Central High School 15-13 on Friday to improve to 4-3.
The Falcons landed the first blow when they found the endzone with 6:49 left before halftime, but Mason’s 15 unanswered points and a defensive stand would eventually earn them the win.
Sophomore running back George Papadopoulos countered Central’s early score when he ran one of his own in from a yard out to put the Mustangs on the board right before halftime.
Mason took an 8-6 lead into the break after sophomore quarterback Evans Rice completed a pass to sophomore Graham Felgar for a successful two-point conversion.
Mason head coach Adam Amerine believes the second quarter was the turning point of last week’s game. “We were able to get some success running the ball with a long run from [senior running back Connor] Plaks that set up our first TD and we took advantage of a few Central penalties on the drive.”
After a scoreless third quarter, Mason would extend their lead in the fourth quarter, going up 15-6 after Papadopoulos ran the ball in, again from the one-yard line, to score his second touchdown of the night.
Central would score again before the end of the fourth quarter, making it 15-13, but the Mustangs defense prevented them from completing the comeback.
Amerine hopes his team learned “that all three phases of the game matter, our offense had a challenging night but we picked it up with solid special teams play and a great defensive effort.”
Overall, Amerine saw improvements in the second half from last week, though there are still aspects of the game the team struggled with.
“Once again, some penalties hurt us on offense with three touchdowns called back on penalties but we battled and stuck together as a team and got a big score to start the fourth quarter and made some big stops late.
Defense was once again critical for Mason. Senior defensive back Enzo Paradiso had four tackles, three pass breakups and two interceptions.
Three players had double-digit tackles. Sophomore linebacker Joshua Stillwagoner led the team again with 12 tackles.
In addition to his offensive success, Papadopoulos had 11 tackles, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup.
Because of this, no one player impressed Amerine this week, “Josh Stillwagoner was great at linebacker leading us in tackles, George Papadopoulos stepped up and played both ways after Robert Silva got hurt early, as well as Graham Felgar stepping in as the punter for Silva and getting some quality kicks for us.”
Amerine continued, “I thought our defensive line was much better, they were active and able to get pressure on the QB when we needed it most, I thought [junior linebacker Carlos] Shields, Thompson, [senior defensive lineman Elias] Wisemiller and [junior defensive lineman Ethan] Titus were all very good allowing our linebackers to make plays.
Shields had nine tackles and a tackle for a loss, Wisemiller contributed a tackle and a tackle for a loss and Titus added four tackles and a tackle for a loss.
Going forward Amerine would still like to see the team get penalized less, as well as, improve their perimeter edge blocking.
The Mustangs are home again this week and take on Skyline High School at 7 p.m. on Friday.