COSHOCTON – You won’t see Coshocton starting quarterback Andrew Mason losing in many things, but if you do, expect the loss to be followed with him calling for a rematch.
It can be something as simple as air hockey with friends, or something as serious as a Friday night football game.
Mason is, “A super-competitive person,” teammate Devin Ryan said, and he will do whatever he can to win.
“We can be out there playing checkers in the locker room and I guarantee you if he didn’t win he would get mad,” coach Jim Woodrum said.
Mason laughed in response to that story and said, “Yeah, that’s right, I probably would. I don’t like to lose.”
Mason is a junior at Coshocton High School, where he is also a three sport athlete — football, basketball and baseball. He also is the starting catcher for the Coshocton Cherokees.
But, the summer doesn’t make Mason’s competitive spirit shrink. It instead pushes him to work even more.
Mason’s summer revolves around sports. In the morning he goes to football weight lifting and conditioning, in the afternoon he goes to basketball workouts and in the evenings he fulfills his duties with the Cherokees.
He does all of that without missing one football weight lifting session.
“He missed a couple of 7-on-7s because he had a game here or there, but he never missed a day of lifting. Even when he missed a 7-on-7, in the morning, he would be in here lifting with the team,” Woodrum said. “It killed him to miss a day.”
So, while other 16-year old high school students were hanging out in a pool, or doing other summer activities with friends, Mason went from practice to practice. All because he wants to win.
“When I go through three different sports in a summer it’s easy to lay down and say I’m done with this. But I’m so competitive that I want to win everything,” Mason said.
Brent Mason, Andrew’s dad, said there were times when Andrew would want to stop playing one of the sports, but the thought never lasted long.
“When that sport rolled around he would be right there just because he loves the competition of it,” Brent said.
Andrew said, “I have mixed feelings about (playing all the sports). I love sports and I can only play it for so long, but then at the same time I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m so tired I just want to take a nap,’ but I can’t.”
That drive is what many of his coaches and teammates attribute to his leadership.
And being a leader is always in the back of Andrew’s mind.
“I can’t really go to the weight room and just not say anything or slack off. I can’t be in the back relaxing, I have to kind of be the guy who is saying, ‘Let’s go, get another rep,’” Andrew said.
Woodrum said, “Not only does he lead positively, but he leads by example, too. Our kids work hard in the weight room, but he works extremely hard in the weight room and the kids see that.”
Last season, Andrew’s natural leadership ability showed, taking over as the Redskins sophomore starting quarterback.
Although he wasn’t asked to do too much, because the Redskins had an All-Ohio fullback in Dom Johns, it was his work when the coaches weren’t looking that gained him respect.
“My dad has always told me that I need to be a leader and do all the right things and then good things will happen in return,” Andrew said.
From the first day of camp last summer Andrew commanded the huddle Woodrum said, and good things happened.
“I think (the players) knew before I did that he was going to be our starting quarterback,” Woodrum said.
That didn’t come as a surprise to Brent Mason.
“I told him when he was competing for the job that being young and earning the upperclassmen’s respect was something he would have to overcome,” he said. “You might be able to throw the football and do whatever you can do, but if you don’t have command of your huddle then you have lost your team.”
As the season went on, Andrew gained more respect from the team because of his play on the field. Again, he wasn’t asked to do much, but when he did do it, he did it well.
In East Central Ohio League play Andrew went 31-of-36 with no interceptions.
“Obviously the expectations are higher for him this year, but he is a kid who welcomes that,” Woodrum said.
With expectations, comes pressure, but that’s not something his teammates ever worried about with him.
Ryan, his teammate in all three sports, said: “pressure doesn’t bother him, I think he actually likes it. He strives under pressure.”
Andrew felt pressure all summer long, but not on the football field.
As the Cherokees catcher, he was given the trust to call pitches and talk with the pitchers when he wanted to.
“He was kind of our go-to guy on the field,” head coach Denny Gray said. “It gave us a piece of mind knowing we didn’t have to call every pitch.”
The Cherokees season came to an end earlier than they may have liked, but now their catcher turns his attention to football.
And again, like he did last year, and like he did with the Cherokees, he will have to lead a group with high expectations.
“I really like to hear that I’m a leader, but at the same time it’s frightening,” Andrew said. “When the lights come on Friday night then everybody is looking at you for what we have to do. You’re the one who has to make the call on where do we go from here, but I like it a lot.”
Andrew said he expects to have a larger role in the offense this season, throwing close to 20 times a game this year compared to 10 times last year.
He expects the Redskins to be back in the playoffs this year and wants to beat Dover after getting “smoked,” a year ago he said.
Andrew hears all the talk about expectations, pressure and being a leader, but his competitive spirit comes out on Friday night. And that spirit is his greatest strength Woodrum said.
“Being out there on a Friday night, coming out of the locker room and playing — it’s the best experience I’ve ever had in my life,” Andrew said. “Baseball is my favorite sport, but when the lights come on and the fans start yelling that’s the best feeling in the world.”