By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
There are times when Northwood quarterback Mason Welch just wants to be outdoors and doing what he loves. Video games or texting is fine for everybody else.
When you are 18 years old, the pressures of the teenaged world can get a little overwhelming sometimes. Finding peace often isn’t the easiest thing to do.
He knows what he needs and where to find it.
“One of the most comforting things is coming in after practice and my dad telling me to put out three bales of hay in that field and two in this pasture,” Welch says. “A lot of people can’t believe I do that. But there’s nothing more comforting than the outdoors. You’re doing something that you realize your parents worked really hard to get and you are appreciating that you are doing things for them. I love those moments. That’s who my parents raised me to be.”
The hay better be in the barn later this week because Welch won’t be around much. He and the Falcons (9-2) will be in New Orleans Friday night to take on Brother Martin (7-5) in the Select-Division I state quarterfinals. Northwood, the No. 5 seed, will meet the 13th-seeded Crusaders at 6 p.m. at Tad Gormley Stadium.
Welch lives on a cattle farm with about 100 acres and another 150 acres leased nearby. There’s also about 500 acres in Beauregard Parish that his family works every other week or so.
Everything you might think he would need to do on a cattle farm, Welch does. He’s even branded a few bovines. In the least shocking news you’ll ever hear, he has spent time showing pigs and was in the 4-H club from fourth grade up to high school.
“Raising animals is difficult,” he says. “Getting them to where they listen to you and you listen to them is something you learn to appreciate. That respect for each other is a difficult process.”
If you don’t believe Welch is a country boy, consider this: He could drive a John Deere tractor before he could ride a bicycle.
“And that’s not an exaggeration,” he says.
There are other things about Welch that aren’t an exaggeration.
“Mason truly is 100 percent all in,” Northwood coach Austin Brown says. “This is his true passion. The consistency and accountability of who he is isn’t normal for a kid his age. To have that for your high school quarterback and everybody look up to, it sets the bar for everybody else to live up to.”
Welch says he hasn’t missed a Northwood football game since he was in the fourth grade. When he was in junior high, he dreamed of being the Falcons’ quarterback.
“I remember thinking about how one day I wanted to be the quarterback at Northwood and the guy who is leading them to the district championship and playoffs,” he says. “It’s been everything I’ve thought it was going to be. It just means the world to me that I’m getting to experience this.”
Northwood also experienced this – a quarterfinal appearance – a year ago and Welch believes it was the 34-32 loss to Westgate that was the springboard to this year’s success.
“What was instilled in us during the offseason was that every day matters,” Welch says. “Everything you do every day matters. It might not seem important to come to a workout during Christmas break. But everything we do and have done is with an intent and a purpose. All that work we’ve put it since that Monday after losing to Westgate last year is paying off.”
Welch, who is the school’s No. 2 career passing leader, threw for 336 yards and four touchdowns in the game in which Northwood battled back from 28-7 only to fall on a failed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
“Being part of a district championship and being this far (in the playoffs) isn’t easy, and I think that’s why this team is so tight,” Welch says. “That’s my favorite part of high school football – the team aspect. We’ve all been through it together. It’s something special. Honestly, I think this team has something in them to push farther than any Northwood team ever has.”
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