Joe Davidson

Del Oro’s versatile Mason Hurst hurts for all the right reasons

Mason Hurst (2), evading a would-be tackler against Inderkum on Friday, is Del Oro’s do-everything star.
Mason Hurst (2), evading a would-be tackler against Inderkum on Friday, is Del Oro’s do-everything star. rbenton@sacbee.com

Mason Hurst plays virtually every down on Friday nights, and he feels it every Saturday morning, too.

Right down to his toes.

Del Oro High School’s versatile senior playmaker is known for his full-bore frenetic approach to football, embracing something of a Captain Crash motto. The Golden Eagles are a team united, a veteran group seeking a repeat CIF State Bowl championship with strong play by quarterback Stone Smartt and running backs Camrion Davis and Dalton Gee, but the guy who makes this group hum is Hurst.

“He’s everything for us,” Smartt said. “Great player, great teammate.”

And Hurst pays a painful price to be that teammate: welts, bruises, scrapes and more as he labors to even sit up.

“I’m so sore that I can’t get out of bed in the morning,” Hurst said. “My torso is torn to shreds. My legs hurt, my back, calves, cramping, jersey’s ripped. It’s like I went through a mountain lion attack.”

Imagine the damage to that cat, then. Hurst has regular Monday appointments with a chiropractor to work out all the kinks.

Hurst is as skilled as he is physical. At 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, he is quick enough to track down ballcarriers as a defensive back – playing cornerback or safety – recording 73 tackles, and he’s explosive after receptions, producing 66 catches for a school-record 1,367 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 20.7 yards a pop. Hurst has scored on receptions, kickoff returns, punt returns and two-point conversions. He even helps teammates fasten their shoulder pads before games.

“Mason’s been incredible for us, one of the greatest players we’ve ever had here,” said Del Oro coach Casey Taylor, whose team is coming off its sixth section championship since 2005 and faces Bakersfield on Saturday night in a CIF Northern California Regional Division I-A title game in Loomis.

For a guy in constant motion, Hurst played the lead role in Del Oro’s in-game “Mannequin Challenge” during a two-point conversion in a 50-10 victory over Antelope in a Sac-Joaquin Section semifinal. All 11 Del Oro players stood frozen, each striking a pose as Antelope players watched in bewilderment. Most of the offensive line suddenly lined up on the left side of the field and the ball was snapped between Smartt’s legs directly to Hurst, who raced into the end zone.

The highlight, which has nearly 350,000 views on YouTube, earned a spot this week on the segment, “C’mon Man!” shown during ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast.

“We had fun with it,” Hurst said. “If you’re not having a little fun, then we’re taking this game too seriously.”

A 3.2 student, Hurst has generated recruiting interest from Sacramento State, UC Davis, UNLV, Nevada, Cal Poly and Hawaii. There’s always a place for a player who can do a bit of everything.

“Sometimes, the process is stressful, but it’s a great experience, and I’m fortunate to have the chance,” Hurst said. “I have to try and set myself apart. There are thousands of other high school kids in the country exactly like me – same height, same weight, same speed. I love to be on the field, to be involved. Put me at running back, receiver, defense, special teams ... anything to help us win.”

Football is a family affair for the Hursts of Loomis. Mason is one of five boys, following in the Del Oro footsteps of Logan, a redshirt freshman running back for Washington, and leading the way for younger brother Dawson, a Golden Eagles teammate. Their mother, Michelle, is among a throng of family and friends who soak in the action. But she doesn’t watch through closed fingers, fearing injury in a rough-and-tumble sport.

“As a mom of five boys, very little makes me anxious or nervous anymore,” Michelle said. “Thankfully, I’m not a worrier. Watching my boys play football I feel joy, excitement and pride. I’m aware of the risks, and unfortunately they have been hurt. But the benefits far outweigh the risks. The brotherhood, responsibility and life lessons are helping to mold and prepare them for the future.”

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

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