Friday Night Hero: Cadarrreus Mason
By Mike London
LANDIS ó One of the perks of victory is feasting like a king, and three plates of hot wings were stacked in front of South Rowan’s Cadarreus Mason at the Flying Buffalo restaurant late Friday night.
“All the guys picked on me,” Mason said. “I couldn’t finish that third plate.”
While he couldn’t clean his plate, the junior defensive end had already devoured Northwest Cabarrus. He had a breakout performance in a 27-6 victory.
Mason’s night included six tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble, one deflected pass and one crushing block on an interception return.
“That’s special for a defensive end to be in on that many hits because you know plays are going away from him at least some of the time,” South assistant coach Tim Corriher said.
There was no official word on the number of quarterback hurries, but some of South’s five interceptions must have been created by No. 34 putting searing heat on Northwest’s Jonathon Wallace.
“Everything happened so fast, but the play I remember is the forced fumble on the running back (Dolando Clowney),” Mason said. “Sweep play. I ripped the block and did my assignment.”
South must have calculus and chemistry teachers grading film. Mason’s grade was only 82. If he ever makes an ‘A’, watch out.
“Our kids up front ó Cadarreus, Kelsey Robinson, Justin Hall, Jabin Wilson ó did a good job of bringing pressure, and that made us better from the linebackers on back,” South head coach Jason Rollins said. “But Cadarreus wasn’t perfect. He played well, but he’s a very humble kid and he knows he can improve.”
Corriher agrees that the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Mason has work to do on technique. A linebacker as a varsity sophomore, he’s still learning to play defensive end.
“This kid was an average linebacker most of last year,” Corriher said. “But when he started putting his hand on the ground at defensive end, the light came on. Great kid. The kind you want to be around.”
New South defensive coordinator Barry Lipscomb arrived in January, studied film and recommended Mason’s position switch.
“Looking at this kid, what I saw was an athlete not many offensive tackles were going to be able to block,” Lipscomb said.
Mason said he’s been encouraged in football by his father, Joe, since he was 5 years old. Joe, South’s team chaplain, handles pregame devotionals and speaks at dinners.
Mason started making noise during the summer, lifting and running daily and earning MVP honors at one of the prestigious combines.
“He followed our program all summer, did everything we asked,” Rollins said. “You see the results.”
Mason was impressive in South’s preseason scrimmages. Teams took notice.
“Salisbury ran away from him,” Lipscomb said. “A.L. Brown ran away from him too, but we ran zone blitzes that got him involved. Northwest last week ó they didn’t run away. They ran right into him, and they were probably surprised by what they got.”
Mason said his mother almost named him Darius but decided too many people were called that.
Mason likes the unusual name. Besides, his teammates call him “Mace.”
“Mace” has the smile of a child at Christmas and the body of a lumberjack, and he’s going to get better.
“I can’t get too much of a big head,” he said. “This is a new week and a new game. Got to stay focused.”