It may seem strange that a family with a rich soccer background would most often play cornhole at family parties.
But that’s how it is for the Sanborns.
Mason Sanborn, a junior center-midfielder for the Roy C. Ketcham High School boys soccer team, has dominated cornhole whenever his family gets together.
His uncle, Craig Sanborn, has collected more than 100 career victories and a state championship as Arlington’s head boys soccer coach. But, he is still learning the art of tossing bean bags into circular holes in boards.
“Our big backyard game is cornhole,” Craig Sanborn said. “(Mason) is getting the better of the adults, because he’s been playing it for years. The kids know how to play the game and are beating the adults. We’ve got to get our revenge in cornhole.”
The next Sanborn family competition comes Wednesday, when Craig’s Admirals face Mason’s Indians at Arlington High School in a Section 1 Conference I League A soccer game.
The Sanborns expect the matchup to be as cutthroat as it gets, while being enjoyable at the same time.
“It’s always fun playing against him,” Mason Sanborn said.
Last season, Mason Sanborn was a sophomore. And, unlike their friendly family games of cornhole, he didn’t have much success when trying to one-up his uncle. Ketcham went head-to-head with Arlington twice in 2015, and the Admirals won both games.
“Last year it was rough because we lost both times,” Mason Sanborn said. “Every single time I see him, I say, ‘I’m going to beat you one day. It’s going to happen.’”
Craig Sanborn doesn’t play into that too much, though, nor does he let it bother him.
“No sense feeding the wolves,” he said with a chuckle. “I just let him talk, smile and say, ‘We’ll see when we get on the field.’ I try and lay low with that stuff.”
Mason Sanborn has reason to believe his day may come on Wednesday, if his team’s early season performance is any indication.
Ketcham has won seven of its first nine games after earning a 3-0 win over Carmel, another league rival, on Monday. Six matches earlier, Mason Sanborn scored in Ketcham’s 3-2 win over Beacon.
His progress and solid play has drawn the admiration of his uncle.
“Mason’s come a long way as a player,” Craig Sanborn said. “He saw a lot of time with Ketcham last year as a sophomore. He did a great job in the back for them and pretty much solidified a lot of playing time for himself last year. Right now, he’s playing quite well and Ketcham’s playing quite well.”
Ketcham coach Scott Grimes has also picked up on Mason Sanborn’s growth. He praised his play, calling him “an excellent example” for the other players.
However, Grimes feels his player’s approach to the game isn’t about facing a family member, but rather going up against a tough Arlington team.
“(Mason) has been through it,” said Grimes, who played for Arlington in the 1980s and was a state champion with the Admirals in 1984. “I doubt it’s ‘Oh boy, I’m playing against my uncle.’ I think it’s ‘Oh boy, I’m playing against Arlington.’”
The Admirals enter the game at 5-5, coming off a 1-0 loss to Monroe-Woodbury on Saturday.
A torn spectator, perhaps, will be Jim Sanborn: Mason Sanborn’s father and Craig Sanborn’s brother.
Jim Sanborn graduated from Arlington in 1980 as the program’s second-leading all-time scorer. He finished his career with 72 goals.
But for Mason and Craig Sanborn, the rivalry, while evident, may be overshadowed by an enjoyable game.
“It’s a lot of fun. We’re all competitive,” Craig Sanborn said. “It’s always fun when you’ve got to play against family members.”
A.J. Martelli: email@example.com, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports
On the web
Visit http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com for a video look at this report, and follow A.J. Martelli on Twitter (@AJM_PoJoSports) for updates from Arlington and Ketcham’s 4:30 p.m. boys soccer game.