Back in the saddle: Former Nevada Union quarterback Chad Mason earns opportunity with professional indoor team Idaho Horsemen
Chad Mason thought his playing days were over.
The 32-year-old real estate agent from Penn Valley was nearly a decade removed from the last time he competed in high-level football and had transitioned into coaching in recent years. But, the itch to play never went away. Then he came across a social media post about the Idaho Horsemen, a professional indoor football team based out of Nampa, Idaho.
“It kind of got my juices going for football again,” Mason said. “It really came out of nowhere.”
Now, the 2007 Nevada Union High School graduate is strapping on a helmet once again and loving every bit of the experience.
“I never thought I’d be playing again, to be honest. I feel like such a kid again,” said Mason. “My love for the game is back. Going to workouts, I love. Running, I’m loving. I love throwing with the guys. The process is a lot more fun now, because it’s been a decade of me thinking I was not ever going to play again.”
Mason, who lives in Meridian, Idaho, worked out for Horsemen owner and head coach Chris Reynolds in January and was signed to the team shortly afterward. He will be one of four quarterbacks competing for the starting spot this season. Mason said the competition will be stiff, but he’s up for the challenge.
“Going into it, I’m excited,” said Mason, who stands 6-foot, 3-inches tall and weighs in at 235 pounds, “I’ve had the experience in college where guys were biting at your heels the entire time. There are no off days.”
Mason, who is one of the older players on the team, also knows he has to make up for lost time.
“For a decade I wasn’t doing things to be a professional football player,” he said, noting he’s been running, lifting and practicing on a daily basis. “I’ve been gifted with this opportunity, so I’m taking advantage of it. I’m getting my body right and my mental game right for it. I know when I go into camp, you’re going to have to outwork me to beat me. If you do, kudos to you, but I’m going to put up the best I can. I’ve played a lot of football and can lead and can help this team.”
A PROVEN WINNER
Mason has found lots of success on the gridiron, something he hopes will continue with the Horsemen.
As a junior at Nevada Union, Mason started at quarterback and led the Miners to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title in 2005. His success continued at the junior college level, where he led American River College to a 10-1 record and a Central Division Bowl Game victory in 2010. His college career came to a conclusion at Division III Ohio Northern University, where he played quarterback and tight end.
In recent years, Mason had started coaching, working as an assistant with Nevada Union’s varsity program, helping the team reach the playoffs in 2019.
“I have the experience behind me, I’ve seen a lot of football, and I think the challenge is being consistent,” he said. “Just being in it everyday with the same high level energy.”
Mason joins a Horsemen team which has been incredibly successful in its short existence. In its inaugural season of 2019, the Horsemen went 13-0 and won the American West Football Conference championship.
SAME GAME, DIFFERENT DYNAMICS
Another challenge for Mason will be adjusting to the field size and speed of arena-style football.
“It’s a huge difference,” he said. “You go from a field that is 53-yards wide and now it’s shrunk down to maybe just inside the numbers, and it’s 50 yards long. I can be in the end zone on the other side and throw a 50 yard pass and score a touchdown.”
Mason said adapting to the field size is one thing, but catching up to the speed of the game is a whole other challenge.
“The biggest difference is the reads. If the guy is open you better be ready to throw right now,” he said. “There’s no running safely. if you take off to run there’s no out of bounds and no sliding. You’re going to have to deliver a hit or be ready to take a hit.”
A typical indoor football field is just 85 feet wide and approximately 50 yards long with 8-yard long end zones. Each team only has eight-players on the field at a time, and on offense there are just three offensive lineman to protect the quarterback.
“The biggest focus for me is getting quick with my eyes and getting quick with delivering the ball accurately,” Mason said. “It’s chaotic, but that’s what I love. Calmness in the chaos is what I always try to be as a quarterback.”
For Mason, his goals for the year are simple.
“As a team it would be a championship,” he said, noting he’d love to add another championship ring to the ones he won in high school and college.
For himself, it’s to compete to the best of his ability and enjoy the experience.
“I know it’s so cliche, but I love the camaraderie,” he said. “For me, it’s being around the dudes in the weight room and locker room. Going to war with these guys. It’s football and it’s so fun to be in the fire of the game and learning to overcome. It’s something that I’ve always cherished.”
The Horsemen are scheduled to play a 12-game season starting May 8 against the Oregon High Desert Storm at the Ford Idaho Center. Other teams in the league include the Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks, the Yakima Canines, and the Tri-City Rush.
PLAYING WITH A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
One of Mason’s biggest assets will be his experience as a player and a coach.
“My mental preparation is probably a lot better now, because I’m just so excited to be playing again,” Mason said. “I’m watching Hudl like crazy, I’ve watched all our games from last season and learning the playbook is fun.”
Mason’s football journey has been a long one, with highs and lows like any other, so he knows just how rare opportunities like this one are.
“You got to enjoy the moment, you don’t know which play could be your last,” he said. “It could be something at practice and something just snaps. You never know. I’m just so grateful for this, because I’ve torn my MCL and ACL in one hit. I’ve broke my foot and had surgeries. And, dealt with the concussion issue. There’s multiple things you go through as a player. So, I’m beyond thrilled to have this opportunity.”
Another thing Mason is excited to do is play in front of his wife for the first time.
“I’m looking forward to looking in the stands and seeing my wife up there,” he said. “She’s my rock. She’s always supportive, and she’s excited for me.”
Mason’s wife, Chelsey Love, is also involved with the team as a photographer and an account executive. Mason is also an account executive for the team, helping to cultivate sponsors for the franchise.
“We enjoy Idaho a lot,” Mason said. “It’s growing, there’s so many cool things nature-wise to do here, and it’s brought football back into my life. It’s been a big positive for me.”
Mason also expressed gratitude for the support he’s received from his family, especially his mother, who he said has always been his biggest fan.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Little Leaguer Mason Entz shined on the bump Thursday, throwing a no-hitter to lead the Penn Valley Mets (Major Division) to victory.