He is part war tank, part bulldozer, part freight train.
But Michael Mason's teammates just call him “horse.”
“He is an absolute horse,” said Mulvane's Nolan Smith. “He's hard to take down. He's a big boy.”
So when the Chanute defense began to keep the Wildcat passing game in check, Mulvane saddled up on the sturdy back of Mason. He answered, popping in two touchdowns to help the Wildcats to a 30-9 victory to open the campaign.
All four of Mulvane's touchdowns came on the ground, with quarterback Ty Redington adding in two of his own. The Wildcats were widely known to have an effective aerial attack heading into this year, but with the emergence of Mason, Mulvane has the makings of a smash and dash backfield.
“We knew they could throw the ball,” said Chanute Head Coach Don Simmons. “They ran the ball a lot better than we thought they would.”
Redington put the Wildcats on the board first with an 87-yard scamper 10 minutes into the first quarter for a 6-0 edge.
Chanute responded to open the second quarter, however, behind a pristine sideline fade pass from Brock Gilmore to Derek Sharp. The score put the Blue Comets ahead 7-6, and a blocked punt knocked into the back of the end zone jumped the advantage to 9-6.
With about five minutes left in the half, Mulvane marched the field to set up a first-and-goal from four yards out. Chanute's defense stood tall – until the Wildcats brought in the horse.
Mason snowplowed his own path to the end zone, dragging three Chanute defenders with him. Mulvane took a 13-9 lead into the locker rooms.
“This is my first year starting, so I'm just trying to make a name for myself,” Mason said. “Mulvane can do more than just throw the ball.”
On its second drive in the third quarter, Mulvane followed Mason as he rumbled off 30 yards to put the Wildcats in field goal range. Redington nailed the kick to put Mulvane ahead 16-9.
All the while, the Wildcat defense clamped down. Chanute's running game was virtually non-existent, and a strong press from the defensive line soured the pass attack. Smith ended a Chanute drive with an interception.
“The one wide receiver I'd been guarding all night, he cramped up. They brought in another kid and I was able to get in front of him and get one,” Smith said. “I didn't think he ran the route that hard, and I was able to jump in front of it.”
The Blue Comets compiled only one first down through four drives in the third quarter.
Redington broke the game open in the fourth with a 40-yard touchdown run off his right tackle, putting Mulvane ahead 23-9. With two minutes to go, Mason powered home another score up the gut of the defense for a 30-9 margin.
“We finally started playing with a little enthusiasm,” said Mulvane Head Coach Dave Fennewald. “We seemed a little flat. I don't know why. We started catching a little enthusiasm. We're kind of one of those teams that plays by the moment.”
Mulvane (1-0) will play its second game of the year against Augusta next week. Chanute (0-1) looks to recover against Labette County.
“We told the kids that all that means is we're not going undefeated,” Simmons said. “Hopefully we can get well and correct some things."