Since his days in flag football, Palisades’ Mason Smeland always has enjoyed playing running back.
Over the last two years, Smeland has truly seen the fruits of years past.
Smeland ran for 237 yards on 25 carries and scored four touchdowns helping Palisades down Northern Lehigh 35-27 in Slatington Sept. 25. The senior scored on runs of 5, 56 and 81 yards, and he also caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jaden Newton.
For the season, Smeland has rushed for 524 yards on 75 carries for a 6.99 rush per average with seven touchdowns, and is among the leaders in the Colonial League.
“I think people now know who Mason Smeland is,” said Palisades head coach Ramie Moussa. “He’s a dude. They had 10 men in the box trying to stop him.”
Smeland has been waiting for his final hurrah, especially after COVID-19 hit the high school football world. He rushed for a team-high 961 yards with 10 touchdowns last season after he accumulated 401 yards his sophomore season.
“I just wanted to hit it hard,” said Smeland about his anticipation for the season. “I often wondered if we were going to play this year.
“I feel a lot stronger this season and more confident. The guys up front have been creating the holes for me, and I have a better read on them this year.”
The 5-foot-9, 171-pound Smeland has modeled his elusive style after the New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley.
“I watched a lot of film on him when he was at Penn State and now with the Giants,” said Smeland. “He makes people miss you, and that’s what I have tried to do. It is about keeping your balance and making the cuts.
“I have tried to do what he does on the field.”
Smeland acknowledged many coaches along his way in the Palisades system, but assistant coach Bobby Smith has been with him most of the ride.
“He (Smith) has been with me the last few years, and he is a great motivator,” said Smeland. “He gets the most out of you.
“He has been a big help.”
Smeland would like to continue his career in college, and he is keeping his options open.
Until then, he believes his team can make a run the postseason.
The Pirates finished with an overall 3-7 mark last season, highlighted by a season-ending 16-13 overtime win over Saucon Valley that triggered inspiration for this campaign.
“After that Saucon game, we knew we could be pretty good this year,” added Smeland. “We were all getting ready for this year. We have a better chemistry and we are hungry for wins.”
Entering Friday’s game against Salisbury at home, the Pirates have a 2-1 record, winning the past two consecutive weeks. Salisbury (0-1) is coming off a 6-5 slate last season, and it lost its opener to Notre Dame - Green Pond 51-22 last week.
“Salisbury may be the fastest team we see all year,” said Moussa. “They have a high-powered offense with big play ability. We have had issues giving up a lot of big plays. That will be a thing to watch.”
Smeland also is anxious for the challenge. He sees his team beginning to play the kind of smash-mouth football he witnessed as a freshman on the 2017 District 11 Class 3A championship team that posted a 13-1 overall record.
“They do have a lot of fast guys,” he said about Salisbury. “We just have to corral them and use our size and speed.
“We know we can play Palisades-type football. When this program is winning, the community comes out to support. We’re going to keep moving forward.”
The Pirates have the perfect person to lead the way.