LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – On the final day of our 6 Sports Two-A-Days coverage took us to Mason where the Bulldogs are looking to rebuild with only five returning starters, and then over to Charlotte where the Orioles are stacked with experience.
Starting with Mason, the Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back CAAC Red titles and hoping to make it a three-peat but will do so without their key players from last season. When we asked head coach Gary Houghton how things have been going replacing key players like last year’s do-it-all quarterback Chance Strickland.
“You know it’s just been a real focus on getting better every day and the kids have really stepped up,” said Houghton. “We’re young but we’re talented and we have a couple of guys at quarterback that have stuck out, they’re different so you know it gives us some options.”
When asking Coach Houghton if he’s confident that his Bulldogs can defend their CAAC Red title he said, “It’s always a challenge because our conference is very tough I think it’s going to be very balanced I think a few things are going to have to go our way to make that happen but we’re going to make a run.”
After our interview with Coach Houghton we spoke with one of his leading contenders to take over as the starting quarterback, Alex Bushey, what it means to him to have a chance to leave an impact on the Mason football program as a senior.
“It’s really important because one of our coaches was telling us about how you don’t wanna look to the players that just left and turn to them empty-handed because we had a bad season and they had such great seasons and we don’t wanna turn to them empty-handed,” said Bushey.
Then for the 20th and final stop of our 6 Sports Two-A-Days coverage, the Charlotte Orioles were holding a detail focus practice. The Orioles have 25 players on varsity this year but out of those 25 players, 18 of them have varsity experience. That experience will come in handy and head coach Mark Sparks told us how important these two-a-day practices have been when it comes to his third season in charge.
“It’s been an opportunity for us to really get down to nuts of bolts of what we want to do philosophically fundamentally and you kinda hit the nail on the head right we wanna be a physical football team more than anything,” said Sparks.
“We’re better on every aspect like by far I mean I think the main thing this season is just not to underestimate us this year it’s…it’s gonna be different,” said senior offensive lineman Gabe Wertz.
Coach Sparks also shared with us that some of their strength lies in their offense.
“Well it starts up front for us right and we’ll be blessed to start four seniors I think up front one of them is already a two-time returning all-conference player in Gabe Wertz, he anchors our line at right tackle he’ll be protecting our quarterback Charlie Grant who’s a three-year starter,” said Sparks. “There’s not a harder worker in the program than that young man.”
“Well, we all work extremely hard everybody pushes each other to be better every day, and when maybe some guys have an off day we all can pick him up together,” said senior quarterback Charlie Grant.