Mason, Northeast stay upbeat despite playoff loss

Frank­ford head coach Will Dog­gett ad­dresses his play­ers dur­ing a 35-15 win over North­east. Frank­ford will meet George Wash­ing­ton in a re­match of last year’s Pub­lic League Cham­pi­on­ship on Sat­urday. ABI RE­IMOLD / FOR THE TIMES


If North­east High School ever needs a spokes­per­son, it should look no fur­ther than Mis­si­ah Ma­son.

Giv­en his druth­ers, the seni­or line­back­er ob­vi­ously would rather have been talk­ing about a vic­tory than a de­feat in Sat­urday af­ter­noon’s Pub­lic League Gold Di­vi­sion semi­final at North­east’s Charles Mar­tin Sta­di­um. However, Frank­ford made such rev­er­ie im­possible, thanks to a not-as-dom­in­ant-as-it-looked 35-15 vic­tory.

So while the Pi­on­eers of Frank­ford will take on de­fend­ing cham­pi­on George Wash­ing­ton for the Pub title (4 p.m. Sat­urday at North­east High), North­east will have to wait for Thanks­giv­ing to play Cent­ral in its sea­son fi­nale.

Con­sider Ma­son among the most bummed.

“Frank­ford has a good foot­ball team, a lot of tal­ent,” said Ma­son, a former run­ning back who has star­ted at line­back­er since his ju­ni­or year and played every de­fens­ive snap in the semi­final loss. “I just think we left a lot of plays on the field. We didn’t do enough, but I think we had the tal­ent to do more.”

Told of Ma­son’s as­sess­ment, sev­er­al Frank­ford play­ers dis­agreed. Then again, what would one ex­pect?

In their de­fense, the Pi­on­eers (7-2) proved to be the bet­ter team for the second time this sea­son. After hav­ing beaten the Vik­ings (5-5) dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, 27-6, Frank­ford star­ted slowly in the re-match and trailed 7-0 after seni­or Devon Dillard snagged an in­ter­cep­tion and re­turned it 31 yards for a touch­down mid­way through the first quarter.

En­joy­ing a ca­reer-best per­form­ance, ju­ni­or Quin­ton El­lis (172 yards and three touch­downs on 17 car­ries) came to Frankford’s res­cue by con­trib­ut­ing two touch­downs and a two-point con­ver­sion late in the second quarter, but North­east hung tough trail­ing by only 15-7 en­ter­ing the fourth quarter.

Out of nowhere, a per­fectly ex­ecuted 42-yard touch­down run by El­lis pre­ceded touch­down passes from quar­ter­back Tim Di­Gior­gio (6 for 12, 116 yards) to seni­ors Renz Compton and Den­zel Turbeville, and what ap­peared to be a pos­sible up­set had turned in­to a pseudo-rout.

“A lot of people on our team gave it their all, but it didn’t go our way,” Ma­son said. “Our run de­fense didn’t stop them enough and our of­fense didn’t gen­er­ate enough yards.”

That said, Ma­son lauded his team­mates be­cause they didn’t give up.

“That’s the North­east way, to nev­er stop play­ing hard,” he said. “That’s what our coaches said (in the post-game meet­ing). We fought to the end of the game.”

Ma­son is the old­est of sev­en sib­lings and is very close to his ma­ter­nal grand­moth­er, Gwen­dolyn Bur­nett, who raised him since he was 2 years old.

De­scrib­ing him­self as an “av­er­age” stu­dent with an aptitude for math­em­at­ics, Ma­son is not sure where he will at­tend col­lege but he plans to go.

“She has taught me to be a strong per­son,” Ma­son said. “She has stressed that edu­ca­tion is im­port­ant.”

Soft-spoken by nature, Ma­son said he has “no prob­lems” be­ing vo­cal when he needs to be.

“I don’t say too much dur­ing games, but I do talk dur­ing prac­tice,” Ma­son said. “I talk mostly to the young­er kids. I try and make sure they know what is go­ing on and how to handle things. I want them to keep work­ing hard so they can be bet­ter than me.”

Hav­ing played — and lost to — both Frank­ford and George Wash­ing­ton, Ma­son was asked to pre­dict who would win the Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ship.

After care­ful ana­lys­is, Ma­son said he is lean­ing to­ward Wash­ing­ton, the de­fend­ing champs. And as for the an­nu­al North­east-Cent­ral clash on Thanks­giv­ing Day?

“North­east,” he said with a grin. “Of course.” ••

Re­port­er John Knebels can be reached at

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