One publication names
running back Darrell Mason the top junior in the state.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN — Meet Darrell Mason.
He’s 6-foot-1, 215 pounds. He rushed for 503 yards as a sophomore for Ursuline last season. He’s the type of player Irish fans probably noticed toward the end of the season, figuring he’s got a bright future.
Only, it’s not just Irish fans who think so.
Mason reportedly was named the top junior in the state in this month’s issue of Ohio High magazine, which means this promising young player is about to be known state-wide.
“It’s nice, but I can’t be that flattered,” said Mason, who seemed a little embarrassed when he heard the news this week. “It just means I’ve got to work even harder to stay on top.
“You know someone else is always working.”
The ranking will mean extra attention, extra exposure and extra pressure on Mason, who is still more than a month away from playing his first down as a junior.
“I like the pressure, so I don’t care about that,” Mason said. “I believe in myself.”
Mason, who plays running back and safety, came on strong toward the end of last season, finishing the year with four touchdowns, 58 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and 21⁄2 tackles for loss.
His coach, Dan Reardon, said he played “as well as anyone on our team the last four games of the season.”
His father, Darrell Mason, played for East High in the mid-1980s and Mason grew up playing in public schools before switching to Ursuline his freshman year.
“This is where I wanted to go since I was little,” said Mason. “I used to drive by and think, ‘I’d love to go to school here.’ I felt like I had a better opportunity here to go to a good college.”
Ursuline lost its top two rushing threats from last season, Matt Yarab and Maurice Jones, to graduation, so he should get the bulk of the carries this season.
He doesn’t have any scholarship offers yet — like most top recruits, he gets a lot of letters from schools — but his talent, combined with good performance, should ensure he’ll be the latest Ursuline running back to sign with a Division I program, following in the footsteps of Yarab (Air Force), Alex Allen (Akron), Terrence Graves (Toledo) and Delbert Ferguson (who signed with Cincinnati after playing his senior year at Warren Harding).
The Irish will drop down to Division V in football this year after spending more than a decade in Div. IV, winning the state title in 2000. Although they went just 5-5 last year, four of those losses came against playoff teams, including two state champions, Mooney and Steubenville.
Ursuline lost some of its top playmakers, it still has plenty of talent returning, including guard Harold Coates, who has offers from a couple Big Ten schools, playmaker Ross Revella and linebacker Nick McGahagan.
“We’ve got a chance to be really good this year,” said Mason. “I’m looking forward to it.”