If his teammate, wide receiver Anthony Bratton, is a first down or touchdown waiting to happen, Osbourn Park running back Daniel Mason is the opposite. Mason's effectiveness isn't seen in his scampering past a defensive back, but in his pounding away at a defense in smaller, more deliberate increments.
On Friday night, the pair posed the intriguing question of what would happen if they teamed up in the same backfield. The answer was well received by the Yellow Jackets as Mason and Bratton combined to rush for 209 yards in a 10-7 win over host Stonewall Jackson.
It was a surprise tactic of sorts in that Bratton, normally Osbourn Park's featured wide receiver, lined up at running back for the first time this season. He responded with a 23-carry, 135-yard performance, while Mason -- the team's usual workhorse -- added 74 yards and a score on 18 carries.
"Anthony will do whatever we ask him to do," Yellow Jackets Coach Brian Beaty said. "You ask a wide receiver to play tailback, what more can you ask? When you're passing game's not going it kind of gave us a nice little 1-2 punch there."
The victory was crucial for Osbourn Park (7-2, 3-1 Cedar Run District), which before the game trailed second-ranked Hylton, Osbourn, Woodbridge and Franklin County -- all of whom won Friday night -- for a spot in the AAA Northwestern Region Division 6 playoffs.
After finishing 3-7 last season, the Yellow Jackets at least did their part, and have a good chance to further raise their stock when they close out the slate against first-year varsity squad Battlefield this week.
"This was real big, especially after last season," Bratton said. "The whole team put in a whole lot of work over the summer and our goal is still to make it to states."
Friday night had a familiar refrain: Bratton racing off the edge and Mason pounding away on the inside. Mason carried the ball six times during the opening drive of the third quarter. None of those carries netted more than six yards. But he kept the ball moving and the clock dwindling, and a 22-yard field goal by Mike Purdy gave Osbourn Park a 10-0 lead.
"At halftime we knew they weren't coming as hard at us," Mason said. "So we just wanted to go hard at them [in the third quarter]."
Stonewall Jackson (4-5, 2-2), which struggled offensively early on, got on board in the fourth quarter, as Ryan Williams's 36-yard run helped set up a three-yard touchdown run by Domonique Vaughn.
But Osbourn Park's defense, as it had done all night, came up with another big stop on the Raiders' final possession when Brandon Osborn forced a fumble at the Raiders' 44 yard line. Osborn finished with three sacks.
"They stepped up defensively," Beaty said. "We missed some opportunities offensively and they stepped up. Really, we haven't played this well defensively all season."