Kentlake High senior lineman Mason Johnson wreaked havoc in the trenches last season on his way to becoming the only player in the SPSL to be voted all-league on offense and defense.
But accomplishing the feat left a mark on the then-325-pound junior.
Johnson’s girth limited his effectiveness throughout games at times, and he was often running on empty by the final horn.
“He’s a big, strong kid, and he can carry a lot of weight, but 325 pounds on a 15-year-old body is not OK,” Kentlake coach Chris Paulson said.
So Paulson, Mason, and Mason’s father, Todd, sat down late in the year after the season ended to talk about the star lineman’s future.
“The conversation was that he was too heavy,” Paulson said. “We have a pretty good relationship, and basically I told him and his dad — if you turn on the film — he’s a fat kid.”
The frank conversation lit a fire in the 6-foot-3 Johnson.
“It was kind of like an eye-opener,” the senior said. “I’ve always, like, thought about (losing weight). I guess it took my head coach talking to me about it for it to dawn on me.”
Johnson was intent on proving that he could earn a Division I scholarship. He cleaned up his diet, nearly eliminating fast food, and met with a trainer to help whip him into shape during the offseason.
“He was really laser-focused on his goal,” said Todd Johnson, a former fullback at Eastern Washington. “It was a question of how serious was he at wanting to play at the next level.”
Mason shed 45 pounds in a little over three months. Leading up to the season, Johnson and his father attended skills camps at various colleges in the region to help get accustomed to his new physique and polish his speed game.
“He’s added so much more to his game,” Todd Johnson said. “Mainly that speed and quickness component.”
Now 280 pounds, Johnson is loving life in his new body and looking forward to seeing what he can do when the games count.
“I’m more explosive; I’m a lot faster,” he said. “I just feel like by the time I’m in (the game), there shouldn’t be able to be anyone that can block me.”
And while Johnson still laments the fact it took him so long to realize he was too heavy, he’s intent on making this season one college coaches need to see.
“I take it as an opportunity to show what I’ve got,” he said. “I had three seasons to show what I’ve got and I blew that, so I might as well make up for it.”