CLIFTON PARK — Shenendehowa’s Mason Courtney missed playing football with his friends in the spring, but now he’s back for his senior season as the starting quarterback for the Plainsmen.
During the 2020-21 academic year, “high” risk fall sports — including football — were not permitted to take place during their regular position in the calendar, moving instead to an abbreviated “Fall II” season held during March and April. That season, Courtney decided to continue with his primary sport — basketball — and take a break from football.
“It was a big decision for me and my family; we went back and forth a lot,” Courtney said. “I’ve known these guys since fourth-, fifth-grade, playing side by side under the lights on Friday nights. It was tough making that decision to choose basketball over football for the spring season.”
Courtney worked on his game with the Adirondack Wild AAU squad, continued to be recruited by colleges and still found time to support his Plainsmen football teammates in the spring.
“I still came out to every game, supporting from outside the fences when I could,” Courtney said. “It was definitely a tough decision and definitely a little weird.”
Shenendehowa coach Brian Clawson recognized Courtney’s skills on the basketball court and knew that he had another opportunity to return to the gridiron.
“I said, ‘Listen, you are going to be welcomed back with open arms if you come back,’” Clawson said.
Courtney returned to the football squad and will be the starting quarterback when the Plainsmen host Queensbury Friday night in its season-opening game.
“I used to play quarterback back in Junior Plainsmen,” Courtney said. “Football and playing quarterback are two of my favorite things to do. I just love doing it.”
After missing his junior season of football, Courtney has to adjust to becoming a varsity quarterback.
“It’s been a learning curve. Varsity is definitely a little bit quicker. I picked it up pretty quick,” he said. “There are a lot of linemen talking more and its taken me a little while to pick up their lingo, maybe help them out pre-play and pick up a blitz here and there.”
At 6-foot-4, Courtney is a guard on the basketball court. On the gridiron, he has the ability to see over his blockers and get a solid look downfield. He sees similarities between the two sports.
“I play point guard at times, and as you look at the defense you know where your guys are going to be,” Courtney said. “Coming into football, you bring those skills over, and you get to find guys — just like on the basketball court.”
Courtney is right where he wanted to be this fall.
“My senior year, I always wanted to play football,” Courtney said. “You’re playing with your friends for one last time before you all part ways and go to college.”