Owasso QB Mason Willingham’s senior season built on stoic leadership among adversity

Owasso QB Mason Willingham’s senior season built on stoic leadership among adversity

In this week’s episode, Barry and Dean break down the Jenks-Bixby rematch, this week’s marquee game. Also, a look at the other 6AI semifinal between undefeated Union and surging Owasso. Plus, a breakdown of the 5A matchup between Grove and Midwest City Carl Albert. Finally, a shoutout to our student picker, Ella Drake of Regent Prep.

OWASSO – Mason Willingham needed to adjust — and quickly.

Owasso’s senior quarterback would be without his star receiver for the remainder of the game. Cole Adams took a hard hit along the sideline at HA Chapman Stadium in Tulsa in the Rams’ first game of the season in late August, ruling him out for the remainder of the game.

A diagnosis the next day revealed Adams would miss “at least” the remainder of the regular season with a shoulder injury.

Owasso’s starting running back Emery Neeley wasn’t playing either.

Down two of his playmakers, it was up to Willingham to win the game Rams’ opening game against Bixby. But the Spartans would prevail, 49-14.

“It didn’t start how we wanted it to, let’s put it like that,” Willingham said months later, reflecting on the season.

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The season would quickly fall apart without Adams and Neeley. Owasso lost to Jenks, Union and Mustang in the coming month, and escaped Broken Arrow with a 27-26 win to hit the halfway point of the season with a 1-4 record.

Hope looked lost for the Rams’ season.

Without crucial pieces, Willingham has been leading the charge for a suddenly surging Owasso squad that has won seven consecutive games and willed the Rams into the Class 6AI semifinals. And on Friday night, when the fourth-ranked Rams face No. 1 Union at Memorial Stadium in Broken Arrow, Owasso will rely on Willingham to do what he does best.

“He always has been a leader,” said Jason Willingham, Mason’s father. “He’s always been a guy that kind of tried to stick up for people in situations that, you know, wasn’t right. We tried to instill that in him as an early as a child, all of our kids that, you take up for those that can’t take up for themselves.”

After starting his high school career in Skiatook, Willingham moved to Owasso ahead of his junior year. And in less than two years, he has become the lifeblood for a Rams team pushing for a chance at a state title.

He’s got a blue-collar attitude. Get in, do your job, get out. “When you start talking sports, he really becomes business-minded,” Jason said.

But after five games, Willingham admits now how tough it was for Owasso. Against Mustang in Week 5, the Rams lost 27-17, their fourth loss in five games.

“It felt like we were starting to get rolling and then another setback happened and it was not ideal,” Willingham said. “But, you know, it’s just reality and we fought back.”

The Rams have gone undefeated since the loss.

Despite the adversity the 6-foot-2 quarterback faced, he said it wasn’t this season that was the toughest for him. It was the year before.

“I would say last year. Coming in from Skiatook and trying to learn a new offense and get to know new guys,” Willingham said. “Trying to win a job for sure, that was probably the toughest part of my career.”

Last season, Willingham split time with quarterback Austin Havens, who now splits time with Connor Kirby at Bixby.

This season, Willingham has completed 67% of his passes for 15 touchdowns and 1,899 yards.

More impressively, he has led the Rams in rushing yards, garnering 782 and 10 touchdowns. Last week in a win against Norman North, Willingham was clocked during a run at 21.85 mph, per TITAN Sports.

As for the motivation, Willingham keeps it simple.

“Winning,” he said. “I like to win. I think also, the guys to my left and right are my brothers and you know what? I’ll go against anybody in this country with those guys.”

On those Friday nights with Owasso, Willingham has a letter “C” sewn onto the left side of his jersey, symbolizing him as the team’s captain.

“Earning that C was a pretty big deal for me,” he said. “But also, I think it’s a big deal for a quarterback. I think you have to be a captain out there.”

Win or lose Friday against Union, Willingham will be at the helm for Owasso.

And when the season ends — whether this Friday or next — Willingham’s career will continue. Early in October, he committed to the University of Central Oklahoma, where he will enroll early after Owasso’s football season ends and begin taking college classes.

He hasn’t spent any time reflecting on his high school career yet, saving it for a time later down the road.

But he knows what he learned in that time.


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