It’s not easy to keep Elysian Fields seniors Carson Holland and Tony Mason off the field, whether or not they’re at full strength. That was shown to be the cast in last week’s game against Hemphill when Holland broke a finger.
“I was playing end and I was trying to get off the block,” Holland explained. “I think my finger got stuck under a shoulder pad and I tried to swim and I just felt it and it was just sitting there dangling. I was like, ‘Let’s just tape it up.’”
“Last year in practice he dislocated a finger and we popped it back in and he only missed one snap,” Elysian Fields athletic director and head football coach said. “We taped it up. He’s a tough kid. Tony Mason has had a shoulder sprain, a hip pointer and a knee injury and he’s never missed a game. Talk the definition of persevering. They’ve been mentally tough enough to understand that if you’re not 100 percent, you can still contribute to the team. They’ve set a really good standard for our juniors, sophomores and freshmen.”
“I’m feeling better as the season progresses,” Mason, a defensive back and running back for the Yellow Jackets said. “I missed the rest of the Daingerfield game because of my knee but that’s the only game I missed. It’s my senior year. After this season is over, I’ll never play high school football again. I’ve got to give it all I’ve got. It’s my last ride.
“It was throbbing but the adrenaline was going and it wasn’t hurting that bad,” added Holland who plays on the offensive and defensive lines. “I took some PC powder. Being in that environment, senior year, playoff game, you’ve got to treat it as if it’s your last game.”
One could say their refusal to get off the field is a microcosm for a Yellow Jackets’ team that refuses to quit playing football.
“Man, three weeks ago, we were considered dead by a lot of people,” Ford said. “I could not be prouder of this group of guys and this group of coaches for circling the wagon and continuing to believe that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. We beat two good football teams to get in. We had some things happen that needed to happen. Hopefully we’ll continue the run because it’s been fun the last few weeks.”
“Everybody said we weren’t going to make the playoffs but here we are,” Mason said.
“We had to beat New Diana by 12 or more,” Holland explained.
“We had to beat DeKalb and then New Diana had to lose to Daingerfield,” Mason added.
“We’ve been in the playoffs ever since Diana,” Holland continued. “I remember after DeKalb, we won, everyone was just sitting there waiting to see what the final in the New Diana vs. Daingerfield was. When we got the announcement, it was just crazy because we worked so hard for this.”
Mason currently has 495 rushing yards, 30 receiving yards and five offensive touchdowns on top of his 185 yards from kick and punt returns. On defense, he has 43 tackles, two tackles for a loss and three interceptions. Holland has 66 tackles, eight of which were behind the line of scrimmage, four sacks and two forced fumbles. Their Jackets’ now hold an overall record of 7-4 as they look to extend their season at least one more week with a win over the Bells Panthers, a team with an overall record of 8-3 that went 6-0 in 9-3A DII.
“We have the speed advantage, I know that but they’re bigger than we are,” Ford said. “I think offensively, we need to pick up where we left off last week and capitalize on momentum, play controlled but fast early and make them run laterally on defense and try to get to the edge. If we attack the edge, there are some things we feel like we can do.”
“Of course we’ve got to score the ball,” Ford continued. “We’ve got to get into the end zone when we have opportunities. We were a little shaky in the kicking game last week so we’ve tried to address that. Our kickoff return and kickoff coverage have been Jekyll and Hyde. It’s been either great or it’s been gosh awful. Defensively for us, they’re going to try to run it down our throat. I’ve told those guys up front, ‘It’s a fight in a phone booth. You’ve just got to win that fight up front in your phone booth.’ We’ve got to meet them at the line of scrimmage. They’ve got a couple good backs. Our linebackers have to play downhill. If we allow them to play at their tempo and gain three or four yards a carry, that’s going to be an advantage for them because that’s how they win football games by time of possession and grinding it out, keeping their defense and the opponent’s offense on the sideline.
“It’s definitely a contrast in styles but I’m confident in our kids and I know they’re going to go out and give it everything they’ve got. At the end of the day, that’s all you can ask.”
“We’ve been through so much this year,” Holland said. “That’s one thing I love about this team is we’ve been through so much and we’re still fighting to show everybody that we’re not done.”
Kickoff for tonight’s matchup between Elysian Fields and Bells is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Meredith Memorial Stadium in Mineola.