Leadership comes naturally to Colonial Forge senior guard/nose guard Mason Rega.
After all, his father Ron is a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps.
Alas, it is probably not surprising that Rega has been playing varsity football somewhere since his eighth grade year.
In 2015, Rega played for the Quantico Warriors. He enjoyed the experience but described his time at Colonial Forge as “180 degrees different.”
Rega said the difference between the size of the student bodies at each school was striking, but also the stature of the programs.
“The expectation at Forge is to win the state title every year—anything less is a disappointment. It was a little bit intimidating, but instead of letting it affect me, I took it as a challenge,” Rega said.
The approach paid off as Rega and his best friend Chase Harley both became starters on the offensive line as freshmen under then head-coach, the legendary Bill Brown.
“Having the opportunity to play for him was an amazing experience because he knows everything about every position on the field,” Rega said. “It definitely helped [me be more prepared in future years] because I had that expertise.”
Rega recalls the switch to Brown’s son, John, as head coach last season was virtually seamless, but he relished that opportunity also because it allowed him to learn additional approaches to help him improve himself as a player.
“Coach [John] Brown allowed us to do more up-to-date things,” Rega said. “He traveled to colleges and brought back different things we can use, like different blocking schemes, things like that. It is definitely fun to play for both coaches.”
Rega’s development of technique and football acumen is important because he wants to continue to play football in college. He’s already visited both Randolph Macon College and Christopher Newport University, but is still unsure where he will ultimately commit to play. Wherever that is, he plans to major in mechanical engineering because “there’s a broad spectrum of opportunities” available in the field of engineering.
Rega, who carries a 3.5 grade point average, said he has a bit of a disadvantage because he is only 6 feet, ½ inches, small for a lineman. He would like to play on the defensive line in college, he said.
Being a leader is something Rega said he and his fellow seniors take very seriously.
“I’ve heard that at other schools, seniors sometimes won’t talk to the younger players, but that’s not our way,” Rega said. “We see ourselves as role models and we act accordingly. Everybody talks to each other. If one of the younger players gets upset by something a coach says, one of us might pull him to the side and say, ‘Coach wasn’t trying to put you on the spot. He was trying to coach you up and make you better.’ Each one of us has had it happen to them before, so we understand what it’s like.”
Another way Rega showed leadership is through his participation in offseason conditioning and weightlifting sessions. Brown said very few on the team missed any conditioning sessions over the winter. Rega said there’s two reasons for that. First, because of the tone Brown set last season.
“Coach Brown made a huge point every week to not look two games ahead. [We were expected] to do whatever we could to prepare and play for that particular opponent and not look past anyone. He also told us to prepare to play for four quarters and beyond, so none of us took for granted anything about the offseason. We know that’s what’s necessary to win a state title and we took it seriously.”
Speaking of the state title, Rega said the way the season ended last year, in a 48-27 loss to Manchester in the region final, left a sour taste in the mouths of the players. Rega’s reflection underscores the depth of his role as a team leader.
“I think each of us remembers what it felt like to lose that game, and it gives us motivation for this year, for sure,” Rega said. “It gives us a fire every single day, every single workout. We want this badly and we are going to fight every game with everything we have.”