When times were down, Mason Carrier picked up the pigskin and turned it into a trip to the Metrodome
Making the best out of a bad situation is a part of life, on occasion it just takes a little time to find that out.
For seven-year-old Mason Carrier of Detroit Lakes, his time came this past fall when he won the District Punt, Pass and Kick Competition in Pelican Rapids.
Carrier’s performance in the competition that day was superior to any other six or seven year olds in the state of Minnesota, and it qualified him for the Four-State Regional to be held Saturday inside the Metrodome.
The four competitors — who range from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa — will be representing the Minnesota Vikings, and will be on the field Sunday after Saturday’s competition.
“This is going to be fun for him, there will be no pressure, either, so he can just go out and enjoy the experience,” said Mason’s father, Matt Carrier.
Mason’s total score from the Districts in Pelican Rapids was tops in the four-state area in his six and seven year old age division.
The next step will be the Metrodome, and if Mason tops the other three competitors, his score will be compared to the other 31 NFL teams’ competitions, with the top four being selected to vie for the National title at an NFL playoff game to be named at a later date.
But the road to the Metrodome for Mason didn’t start in the family’s front yard in Detroit Lakes, it actually started in Cincinnati, Ohio, during some darker times for the Carriers three years ago.
That was when Mason’s older sister, Ashtyn, was diagnosed with a rare disease, for which the best treatment was at a Cincinnati hospital, which forced the Carriers to take up residence in the Ohio city for nearly a year.
“We were in isolation because we couldn’t bring in any germs in the townhome we lived in, because of Ashtyn’s treatments,” Matt said. “From May of 2010 to March of 2011, the only thing the boys (Mason and brother Ethan) and I could do was play football in the backyard.”
Matt also enrolled his sons in a flag football league, which played a game during a Bengals’ halftime at Paul Brown Stadium.
“That is pretty cool that Mason will have played in two big NFL stadiums by the age of seven,” Matt said. “The flag football league, though, was just a great experience for the kids.”
During Ashtyn’s treatments in Cincinnati, Mason honed his football skills with endless time playing with the pigskin.
“I still remember Ethan and me playing in the backyard as Ohio State versus LSU,” Mason said.
Another irony which is apparent was a year after Ashtyn’s treatment was complete, she won the District Punt, Pass and Kick competition, only a year after being in a wheelchair.
Two years ago, Mason was also riding in a wheel chair after he broke his leg.
“I just think it’s pretty weird circumstances both won after being in wheelchairs,” Matt said.
Qualifying for the National competition isn’t a pie in the sky goal, either, since Mason’s final score has been near some of the best the last couple of years.
But inside the Metrodome Saturday, the competitors will only have one shot with their pass, punt and kick, which is also measured by accuracy.
“My throwing is the best, while I can punt well, too,” Mason said. “I am going to go all out with those two and then just focus on (accuracy) with my kick.”
Nerves obviously will play a huge factor in the competition, but Mason also has a plan for that.
“I’m just going to do what my dad does, jump around and relax,” Mason said. “I’m going to go up there smiling and laughing.”
Detroit Lakes also had a good showing in the District competition, with Brinley Sgro taking second in the six and seven year old girls’ division; Brailee Sgro taking silver in the eight and nine year old girls’ division and Blake Itzen finishing third in the 10 and 11 year old boys’ division.
The Punt, Pass and Kick competition has turned into a Carrier family affair over the years, but the roots of the kids’ success started in Cincinnati.
It’s a place where something good came out of a difficult situation.
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