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High School Football: Derby’s Mascio makes most of new opportunity, Canisius to play for title

Junior Tyler Mascio has gone from Lake Shore’s quarterback to earning the starting spot at Canisius. (Photo by Jeff Barnes)

Tyler Mascio transferred to Canisius High School this summer with nothing promised to him besides a chance to compete for a starting role as a part of the varsity football team.

A deep Crusaders team had a senior quarterback capable of taking over the signal calling from a player that had graduated at the position. Mascio, Lake Shore’s starting quarterback as a sophomore, was merely told he would have the opportunity to show what he could during offseason workouts and preseason camp.

So, that’s what Mascio did — even before Week One of the regular season, he competed everyday for that starting spot, whether it was running the offense in a seven-on-seven tournament, being under center during camps or running drills at practice.

“Coach (Rich Robbins) told me I would have to work very hard, come in first in all of the sprints, and do my best in camp the whole time,” said Mascio, a junior.

A dual threat with his legs and arm, Mascio won that starting job. He has used the opportunity to not only become an improved and smarter player at the position, but also learned what it took to help a program reach its goal. Canisius went from a team that lost in the league’s semifinals last year to one continuing an unbeaten season in advancing to the championship game Saturday (Nov. 17) against Timon.

“Mike (Schake) would have done a great job or us too, and he and Tyler competed all summer, but once we got toward the beginning of the season, the coaching staff was pretty unanimous that Tyler was the guy because of what he could do with his legs and his arm,” Robbins said.

Most might think he transferred for this very moment — a chance to play for the Monsignor Martin title at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but Mascio said he made the move with a focus on academics.

“Most of it was about schooling,” Mascio said. “Lake Shore is a good school, but the academics are superior here. And football is just another avenue for me to pursue here.”

While Robbins said the high academic standards of the school have been a challenge for Mascio, he believes the junior’s work ethic will help get him through any difficulties in the classroom, like it has done with helping him learn the Canisius offense and how to read opposing defenses.

“From a football stand point, we’ve put a lot on him with all of the checks and all of the things he has to do, but his football IQ has only gotten better every week,” Robbins said. “He’s playing real well.”

Already with one of the most dominating runners in Qadree Ollison and offensive lines in Western New York, the Canisius offense is a well-oiled machine that only looks that much better with Mascio throwing and running effectively.

In the 44-20 win over St. Francis in the Monsignor Martin semifinals on Nov. 8 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Mascio threw for 190 yards and was an efficient 8 of 11 with a 57-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Richards.

“Our run game was very good today and we were able to pass, too,” said Mascio, who’s thrown for 1,443 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 81 of 133 passing this year. “They had some young corners out there so we were able to take advantage of that. Whatever was working, we just kept going with that.”

Mascio showed the ability to throw a rope on the line for 25 yards, while also exhibiting a nice touch on a deep ball. On the ground, he added 23 yards and a pair of short touchdown runs on eight carries. For the season, he’s run for more than 300 yards and five scores.

“He’s a baseball kid too so we had to tell him that it’s not always fastballs,” Robbins said. “He’s learned how to put some more touch on the ball, how to read the defenses and when he should make throws. That, coupled with his athleticism, makes him a pretty darn good player.”

Mascio’s presence at Canisius should also be felt during the winter and spring seasons. Besides being brought up to the football team as a freshman at Lake Shore, Mascio had already played two years of varsity basketball and was the varsity baseball team’s two-year starting shortstop.

After hoping to complete an undefeated season at 11-0 and capture the Monsignor Martin crown, Robbins is looking forward to a full offseason with Mascio and seeing what else he could be capable of accomplishing.

“We knew he had the physical tools — he’s a great athlete, but once his mind has caught up he’s going to be pretty special, and he already is,” Robbins said.

Though he seems to have a calm and cool demeanor, seemingly taking playing in The Ralph for the first time all in stride, Mascio couldn’t help but be excited to feel like both he and his new team had taken advantage of an opportunity that wasn’t there last season.

“This is very big for us (to get to the league finals),” Mascio said. “We’ve been working hard all season. It was a great win tonight...I love it. It’s a great feeling.”

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