Archive for Thursday, February 19, 2004

Thank you, Micah

February 19, 2004

I usually don't use this space for sports, but usually Micah Mason doesn't sign with Baker. Plus, it's more than that.

The rumors and whispers about Mason going to Baker have been around for awhile. I really didn't think it would happen. I'm ecstatic that it did.

I'm always happy when Baldwin High athletes sign on to continue their athletic careers, but this one was even more special. This one was personal.

Like most people around town, I've enjoyed watching him play football for four years at BHS and even before that with basketball, etc., at Baldwin Junior High School.

But, I'm afraid my Micah stories go way, way, way back. I'll never forget the first time I saw him. He was a sawed-off five-year-old in black sweat pants. That picture is etched into my mind and it always has brought a laugh. It was in Wellsville and the year had to be 1989 or 1990 or something like that.

It was the first year that my boys, Brett and Anthony, played soccer. They were on different teams, Brett on the "older" team and Anth on the younger, and, of course, they were playing at the same time. I was watching Brett, who also had Caleb Mason, Micah's brother, on his team. The younger guys finished first and came over to the game where I was. Anth came walking up with this kid in the black sweat pants. It was the first time I saw him and I could tell by the smile on his face and the gleam in his eye that he was something special.

He was ... and still is.

Over the years, those four played together on various soccer, baseball and basketball teams, first in Wellsville and then in Baldwin after we all ended up here somehow. Wellsville folks still aren't crazy about how that all worked out.

Of course, the high school years were best for Micah, who is the last in that foursome line after the other three graduated. That became obvious his freshman year when midway through the season coach Mike Berg brought him up to play varsity. He was the real deal and that became even clearer through the next three years.

Micah did some amazing things through those years and got better each step of the way. This year I witnessed some moves he put on defenders that I would not have believed if I hadn't seen them. The one that sticks out was right on the sideline and, unfortunately for the home fans, was blocked from view.

When it was done, he had churned up a BHS record 5,311 yards. That included 2,011 this year and an 8.2-yard per carry average. All of those are amazing numbers. And while they are the result of a lot of talent, what has always made Micah stand out even more is his heart. It's that desire that really separates the pack when it comes to football.

Like everyone else, I've waited and wondered where Micah would go from Baldwin High. There was a lot of interest from a lot of colleges of every size. I had the pleasure of watching another high school standout, Paola's Brian Shay, play his junior and senior year. He dominated the Frontier League, much like Micah. Also like BHS's all-time leading rusher, Shay was one of those "border line" Division I prospects. He chose to go to Emporia State and, as they say, the rest is history. He became the all-time leading rusher in college history. Shay also had a couple of stints with the Kansas City Chiefs.

When people would ask me where I thought Micah should go, I said I didn't care, as long as he played running back. I didn't want to see him go Division I and get switched to another position. He is a running back, first and foremost. Whether he has the size or speed to play Division I is open to debate. There can be no debating his ability to run with the ball.

That's one of the main reasons I was so ecstatic that he signed with Baker. He'll get the chance to keep carrying the ball across the turf at Liston Stadium and I'll be able to watch it.

I may have missed that first soccer game with Anth so long ago, but this will make up for it. I doubt he'll ever be wearing those black sweat pants again, but he still has that smile and the gleam in his eye. Thanks, Micah, for four more years.

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