Benefield: Santa Rosa High football newbie Mason Frost has a debut to remember
Santa Rosa High football coach Russell Ponce remembers the day Mason Frost first got his attention. I mean, really got his attention.
He had noticed the then-junior baseball player had started showing up to football workouts and then to classroom sessions. He also noticed that Frost never said too much, just got his work done and was on his way.
Then, on a day the team was scheduled to do some conditioning, rain prompted someone to suggest that the guys play basketball as their aerobic workout instead. Ponce agreed. And that is when, standing in the Santa Rosa High gym watching his team play hoops, Ponce officially took note of Frost in that “Oh my word, who is this guy?” kind of way.
“I think the kid can touch the rim with his elbow,” he said of the 5-foot, 11-inch Frost. “I have never seen an athlete, that I’ve coached, like that in my life.
“I’ve been salivating over this kid ever since,” he said.
He had good reason.
Frost is the guy who, in his first year ever of football — his fifth game ever, in fact — ran for more than 400 yards and scored six touchdowns, including the game-winning 25-yard scamper, to seal the Panthers’ overtime win Friday against El Molino. The Panthers had 479 yards of rushing against the Lions Friday night and Frost had 439 of them.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Frost said when asked to describe Friday night. “After that third touchdown I was way out of it, I was like, ‘I can’t even believe this is happening. I’m just going to keep this rolling.’”
So even with those unheard-of stats, even when his number was called and called again, and even when every person on the field, or in the stands for that matter, knew it was Frost who would get the ball in the Panthers’ first possession of overtime, he still found a block, broke through a hole and ran for a touchdown.
“We did our part, he did his part,” tight end PJ Toleafoa said of an offensive line that worked their tails off all night. “(El Molino) knew that we ran the same play over and over again — they were calling it out on the field — but they had to get through us to get to Mason.”
And getting to Mason is no easy feat.
“They have to be fast, that’s all I gotta say,” Frost said.
Ponce laughed when I asked whether he thought about trying to throw El Molino off the scent and go to another back in that first overtime possession.
“When a kid had 400 yards, you give it to him again,” he said. Good point. Frost ran it 25 yards for the score and for the Panthers’ 50-44 win. It moved the Panthers to 2-5 overall and 1-0 in the North Bay League-Redwood Division.
But Ponce took pains to say that El Molino went after Frost the same way he would have. The stars were simply aligned for the kid.
He had 27 carries. His longest on the night was 87 yards, but he had a couple of those. His average gain was 16 yards.
“Believe me, El Mo tackled him plenty of times,” he said. “(El Molino coach) Randy (Parmeter) is one of the best coaches in the entire area. All coaches know that. He’s a tremendous coach. They were doing what I would do to stop him.”