Grant Mashaw has never been one to complain about a lack of playing time. As a two-way starter for the better part of three years, the senior offensive lineman/linebacker has been a constant in the Ouachita Christian lineup.
Plays off and breathers? Those are for somebody else.
“I like being able to contribute on both sides,” Mashaw said. “I don’t feel like I get left out of anything.”
Mashaw hasn’t had to feel left out for awhile now. He started the 2017 season opener at linebacker, and a few weeks later, became an offensive lineman out of necessity.
“One of our guys on the offensive line went down, and the coaches put me in there,” said Mashaw, who took over a guard position. “I was a 185-pound sophomore, and did the best I could. I’ve bulked up some since then.”
Mashaw’s best must have been pretty good because the move turned out to be permanent.
“Injuries were getting to us, and I went up to Grant one day and said, ‘Hey dude, how about trying the offensive line,’” OCS coach Steven Fitzhugh said. “He ended up having a great year. Last year, he made first-team All-State on the coaches team.”
Mashaw has since shifted to left tackle. With senior right tackle Garrett Folds slowed by an injury of late, Mashaw has been joined on the interior by sophomores Avery Pilgreen, Andy Weatherford, James David Miller and Casey Cobb.
“Those guys make plays,” Mashaw said of the sophomore foursome. “Every one of them have more pancakes than I do. They are going to be a formidable force two years from now.”
It wouldn’t be a stretch to bill the Eagles’ current offensive front as a formidable force. OCS has scored 41.6 points per game while generating 389.2 yards of total offense (234.4 rushing, 154.8 passing).
A further look at the offensive line’s body of work reveals an average of 8.1 yards per rushing play and only seven sacks allowed.
Peaking at the right time, the Eagles have played their best two best offensive games over the past two weeks in a 49-47 quarterfinal victory over Calvary Baptist and a 56-41 semifinal verdict over Metairie Park Country Day.
Throw in a 54-0 first round win over Sacred Heart-Ville Platte, and the Eagles are averaging 53 points per game during postseason play.
Hunter Herring’s emergence as an elite quarterback has sparked the offense. Last week against Country Day, the junior rushed for 301 yards and five touchdowns on 18 carries.
“A lot of respect to Hunter,” Mashaw said. “He’s been running it down everybody’s throat. He’s getting better every game.”
Witnessing the progress of the likes of Herring and the sophomore linemen reassures Mashaw that the future of the program is in good hands.
“Coach Fitzhugh always demands excellence out of everybody,” Mashaw said. “I don’t see a drop off at all.”
Mashaw has made his mark on defense for the Eagles, as well, ranking fourth on the school’s all-time list with 43 tackles for loss, tied for fifth with six forced fumbles, and sixth in tackles for loss yardage with 148.
“I tell everybody I’m a linebacker that plays on the offensive line,” the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Mashaw said.
For the season, Mashaw has accounted for 78 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles.
“It’s tough for a linebacker to be a two-way player, but he’s a tough kid,” coach Fitzhugh said. “Grant’s a battler. He’s a humble kid, who works hard in the weight room, loves the game and plays with passion. He’s solid on both sides of the field for us.”
Friday night’s victory over Country Day has the Eagles on the doorstep of their first state championship since 2014. OCS will play Catholic-Pointe Coupee in the state finals at a site that has yet to be determined.
“I am excited to see where we are going to play,” Mashaw said. “I think everybody football player in this state grows up wanting to play in the Superdome. But if we don’t get to play in the ’Dome, it’ll be nice to play here, too.”
Mashaw has a firm grasp on OCS’ football tradition.
In fact, he was instrumental in reviving a ritual from days gone by. The 2000 team adopted the slogan, ‘Bring the Wood.’ When the actual piece of firewood the team kept on the sideline throughout its state championship run was discovered in storage, Mashaw was among the current Eagles to approach coach Fitzhugh about bringing it back for the Week 2 game at Sterlington.
Coach Fitzhugh would not give his consent without first consulting some of the players from the 2000 squad.
“Coach Fitzhugh texted the seniors from that team to see if it was okay with them for us to bring it back, and they said we could,” Mashaw said. “It means a lot to be able to carry on in their footsteps.”
Though the Eagles (12-1) suffered their only loss to Sterlington, the wood remained in the locker room. Throughout the playoffs, Mashaw has run onto the field with the wood in tow prior to every game.
“It’s a huge honor to carry the wood every game,” Mashaw said.
“Grant is our carrier of the wood,” coach Fitzhugh added. “He takes it seriously. He wouldn’t even let his girl friend hold it after the Calvary game.”
The story behind OCS’ 2019 motto, ‘Finish Strong,’ has been well documented. While the Eagles have indeed finished strong, they have started slow the past two weeks.
“We definitely need to start faster in the championship game,” Mashaw said. “We need to start strong, stay strong and finish strong.”
Mashaw, who plans to become a physical therapist or chiropractor, is leaning toward attending college at Louisiana Tech.
As a single sport athlete, Mashaw is preparing for the final athletic event of his career.
“What I am going to miss the most is the bond with everybody,” Mashaw said. “This entire team is close knit. I’m going to miss traveling with the coaches, and the bus rides with the team. I can’t believe it’s almost over.”
Still, it isn’t just about him. Nor is it only about the 2019 OCS Eagles.
“OCS football is a brotherhood,” Mashaw said. “We’re playing for the people who came before us, and the people who will play after us.”
As the Eagles began filing out of the fieldhouse Friday night, the reality that there is only one more game left to play began to set in.
“Getting there is good, but it’s not the end goal,” Mashaw said of the state championship game. “The end goal is to get there and win.”