VanNest Eager to Play Another Football Game | News, Sports, Jobs

WHEELING — Mason VanNest will be the first to admit he was extremely disappointed to see his senior football season cut short.

Coming off a junior season in All-Ohio, the Shadyside grad was preparing for a big year at both wide receiver and high school for the Tigers. However, he broke his foot in the season opener against Martins Ferry.

He missed more than six weeks before returning to the Division VII, Region 25 championship game for the final few games of the regular season and the Tigers’ run.

Instead of pouting. VanNest made a point of making his misfortune as positive as possible.

Considering he helped the Tigers basketball team to an OVAC 2A championship and then transitioned into spring where he was named OVAC 2A Player of the Year and incidentally, Division III runner-up in the 200-yard dash and an All-Ohioan also won at the 100.

VanNest will now look to add the finishing touches to his illustrious pre-season career with another chance at the 76th Annual OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game on Saturday.

“I was picked late for this (OVAC) game, but it didn’t matter.” said VanNest. “When I found out that I had been chosen to play, I was so excited and grateful. I really thought my football career was over.”

In addition to his prep athletic awards, VanNest has also spent the summer playing in the Ohio Valley Baseball League for Maynard, who plays in the championship series. Should it stretch to at least a fourth game, VanNest would rejoin his roster on Sunday.

When you add it all up, even VanNest shakes his head in disbelief.

“It was really a few months that you only experience once in a lifetime”, said VanNest. “I’ll never experience that stuff in my life again, but high school was great.

Like so many Ohio Valley football players, VanNest dreamed of representing Buckeye State at the annual Summer Classic. He’s been attending the game since he was a little boy.

“When you consider that only 32 players will be selected and then think of all the people who played in this game before us, it’s really an honor to be a part of it.” said VanNest. “The group of guys is great. We’ve made so many memories already and I’m sure we’ll make many more as the week progresses.”

Despite missing nearly two months, VanNest caught 24 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest performance of the season came in the opening round of the playoffs against Fairfield Christian when he caught five passes for 127 yards.

Actually, VanNest is one of three tigers in the game. He will be joined by defenseman Ryan Florence and running back Wyatt Reiman.

“To share this experience with Ryan and Wyatt and play another game together is great,” said VanNest. “I never thought I would ever play with anyone from Shadyside (football) again, so being here with Wyatt who’s my best friend and Ryan who I’ve known all my life.”

As for the future, VanNest has yet to sign a letter of intent or make a decision, but the spring he’s enjoyed on the oval brought into the equation a sport he hadn’t even competed in until this year.

“I haven’t decided yet, but I’ll most likely end up (at Wheeling)” said VanNest. “I never thought I’d be able to run on the track in college.”

OVAC NOTES

According to West Virginia head coach John Kelley, his team has shrunk to 29 players ready for Saturday’s game. One player missed camp on Sunday and both Grant Neiswonger (John Marshall) and Elija Jackson (University) were ruled out due to injury.

OHIO HEAD coach Mike McKenzie stated his team arrived midweek without injury and all players are headed to play on Saturday.

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