Victory sweetens Mason’s Shrine Bowl
A few halftime tweaks by the East helped the squad come back from a deficit to top the West 29-12 in the 31st Shrine Bowl Game Saturday in Emporia and helped top a worthwhile experience for Baldwin's Micah Mason.
Mason, a spring graduate of Baldwin High School who will begin his college career this month with Baker University, played defensive end in the game and contributed seven tackles, two of them solo. The East's comeback victory capped a full week-plus of high-level football for Mason.
"It was awesome, I thought," Mason said of the experience. "What made it better was we won. It was the first time in four years that the East has won."
The West had a 12-7 lead at halftime. But those tweaks by the East led to 22 unanswered points while the defense was throwing a second-half shut out. The combination provided the win.
"We were losing at halftime and we made some adjustments," said Mason. "We had been getting hurt by the quick pitch. We set the edge on defense so they couldn't get to the outside and the offense made some adjustments, too.
"We made more adjustments than they did and we came out and won it," he said. "To be able to make those adjustments and come through shows we came together as a team. The talent is going to be there in an all-star game. The key is to come together as a team and utilize that talent."
Of course, Mason has been involved in many wins during the past four years at Baldwin High. The last two years, the Bulldogs have advanced to the state playoffs, marking the first time that's been done in more than a decade. Not surprisingly, Mason was the first BHS player to be named to the Shrine Bowl team since those glory days. Mark Lash was the last Bulldog at the all-star game since 1994.
But, this win was different. It brought to a good close 10 days of nothing but football for the Shrine players.
"The circumstances were definitely different," Mason said of the Shrine win. "The biggest difference between that game and a typical high school game is you've grown up with your high school team. But with this, you get to know these players in a short time.
"It makes you feel like you got a lot more accomplished in a shorter amount of time," he said. "Not only do you get to know someone new, you get to play with the best. You want to win with your high school team because that's what you do. This is a different experience. You think back and know you got so much accomplished in such little time."
It was a crash course, so to speak, on building a team. It didn't happen overnight, even though it felt like it did. It was a step-by-step process.
"The first day you're kind of nervous about meeting everyone," said Mason. "Then you get into practice and pounding each other. You become friends with them. I think a lot of people agree it was the longest week ever, but we wouldn't trade it for anything. We all have the same passion -- football."
Mason also believes the experience has prepared him better for the start of the upcoming season with Baker, which will go through the preseason routine for the first time under new coach Mark Grossner.
"The biggest thing about the game is it did give us a glimpse of what college is going to be like," said Mason. "Football was it. When college football starts, it will be two-a-days and football will be your life.
"I'm shifting gears now," he said. "I'm ready to get the summer over and get football started."