Finally, St. Charles East senior Dave Mason is getting over a bad break.
A lifelong basketball player, last summer he went out for football for the first time since middle school.
"I just decided to do football because it was senior year. I thought it would be fun," said the 6-foot-7, 200-pound Mason.
Playing defensive end opposite the 6-4 Luke Spicer, Mason racked up 33 tackles with 4 sacks, recovered 2 fumbles and blocked a field goal try.
He survived football then the fun was over. During a pickup basketball game in open gym he broke the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot. Mason had surgery Nov. 15, and was finally cleared for basketball on Jan. 14.
"I was anxious to get back," he said after the Saints' 90-55 win over St. Charles North last Saturday. "It was disappointing but I'm happy to be back and help. I'm out of shape still, but each day I feel better and better, getting in shape."
Mason, who may look to play at a Division II or DIII level but probably favors studying engineering at Illinois, was the first player Saints coach Pat Woods brought off the bench against St. Charles North. Taking the court for the first time this season at the 4:25 mark of the first quarter, Mason blocked a shot later in the quarter and finished with 1 basket and 2 rebounds.
"It was so nice to look on the bench and have a 6-7 guy sitting there waiting to go in versus, All right, do I put the 6-4 guy in, the 6-2 guard? He's just such a physical presence out there," St. Charles East coach Patrick Woods said.
This championship season: One hears it a lot starting about Week 6 of the football season -- for middling teams fighting for a playoff spot, the playoffs "start now."
Every team else makes the playoffs in basketball. But sitting at 4-2 and with its sights set on catching 5-0 Larkin in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division, the Saints knew they had to beat St. Charles North, then 5-1.
"We talked about this being a championship game, so it had nothing to do with North but it has to do with still holding onto that dream of a conference championship right now," Woods said. "In order to have that happen we had to win this game tonight, that's what we talked about more than the East-North rivalry. That's just there naturally. We really wanted to come out with the idea of still trying to grab a championship, or a piece of it."
On the other hand: Aside from simply running into a buzz saw, St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin emphasized getting after it harder in the 2-3 zone defense.
"This will make us better as we move forward, if we allow it to," he said.
St. Charles North doesn't play again until Jan. 30 at Elgin, which showed signs of life by beating Batavia the same night as the St. Charles East-North game.
"We've had one stinker in 17 games, and that was tonight," Poulin said Saturday. "We have to remember who we are -- we're a team that plays harder than the other team and we're a team that plays together more so than our opponents ..."
Harrell does it all: Aurora Christian senior point guard Johnathan Harrell leads the Eagles in points, assists and rebounds and is second in scoring and steals.
In track, he's a three-time all-stater, running legs on a third-place 1,600-meter relay as a freshman and two fifth-place finishes last season in the 800 and 1,600 relays.
Tuesday at Aurora Christian's girls basketball game the Daily Herald's John Lemon saw Harrell playing baritone saxophone in the pep band.
"When I asked him if there's anything he can't do," Lemon said, "he claimed he's quite the cook, too."
On a mission: Marmion junior guard Jordan Glasgow came out like a house afire in the Cadet's 62-43 win over St. Edward on Jan. 11, handing the Green Wave its second loss at the time.
Glasgow, who scored 10 points with 6 rebounds, said his fast start was motivated by seeking to be one of the Cadets' top players. He continued in that effort by scoring 14 points with 4 steals in a 49-47 loss to Kaneland, and with 19 points in Marmion's 84-78 victory over Aurora Central Catholic on Jan. 18.