MASON, Ohio -- Mason football coach Brian Castner is not sure if he will coach another player like Matt Sora.
Castner, who begins his eighth season with the Comets and 25th year coaching high school football, can’t say enough about the senior running back.
“Matt and I have grown to be close,” Castner said at practice last week. “He’s a two-year captain. I think he wants to do a lot of things here because this is where he grew up. He wants to give back to this community when he plays on Friday nights. It’s never about him.”
Sora, an Indiana State commit, rushed for 1,262 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2016 for the Comets (7-5). He was also first-team All-Greater Miami Conference.
But it’s the way he carries himself in practice, with teammates and off the field that makes his leadership important to Mason as it prepares for the season opener Aug. 25 at Springboro (7 p.m. kickoff).
Mason is trying to build off back-to-back postseason appearances including a first-round win over Elder in 2016. Sora had 250 rushing yards and three touchdowns against the Panthers in that playoff game. But this year is a new team.
“For us as a team, we want to write our own story,” said senior linebacker Jake Bracher, one of the team’s four captains. “It’s going to have a storybook ending -- it’s going to be awesome.”
The Comets’ coaching staff routinely has to remind Sora not to finish a drill in the end zone during the preseason. Sora is not trying to waste time. He just knows one mode.
“He’s a guy who you want to have the ball in his hands as much as possible,” said Mason wide receivers coach Roche Croy. “He’s a special kid. He’s a workhorse. He doesn’t know what defeat is. He’s 110 (percent) every play.”
Sora, who is 5 feet 10 ½ and 197 pounds, is a committed player who is vested into the Mason High School community. He also plays basketball and runs track. He can’t wait to run on the field at Dwire Field at Atrium Stadium on Friday nights.
“It’s awesome,” Sora said. “Six- or seven thousand people every game. Especially playing here at home -- it means a lot. You get to play in front of your student section and being able to play in front of the community.”
Jim said his son felt at home with playing at the stadium as a sophomore and thrives under the lights. Yet he remains relentless in his work ethic.
Matt has worked to improve any way possible -- whether that’s running 40-yard sprints with a parachute tied his back in the street of their Mason home at 9 p.m., being in the gym or lifting with teammates at 6:15 a.m.
“I’m proud of him,” Jim said. “He doesn’t want to stop working in the offseason.”
Croy said he knew Matt was a special player in the second grade as a tight end. A switch from tailback in third grade gave him his natural position for the years to follow.
Castner said Matt is in the top three percent of players he’s coached over two-plus decades.
“If you look at him he looks like an average kid,” Castner said. “He’s No. 21 Matt Sora. He’s been scoring touchdowns since the first grade. He doesn’t play another position (besides running back). He’s a ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ guy. You don’t have worry about any trouble with him.”