Mason Garcia’s talent has never been a secret.
But if there was ever a moment when the Carolina Forest quarterback’s abilities were on full display, it was during the Panthers’ first-round playoff victory over Lexington last November.
In that contest, Garcia rushed for four touchdowns and threw for another, then won the game by pushing in a two-point conversion in overtime.
The Panthers’ season didn’t end the way they wanted — they lost to Summerville in the second round — but their 8-2 season a year ago has them excited about what they — and Garcia — can do this fall.
“Whatever we ask him to do — run the ball, throw the ball — [he’s] a great team player,” Panthers coach Marc Morris said. “Kids watch him work in the weight room and just be a leader for us by example. … Obviously we need him to play great this year if we’re going to have a good football team.”
The Panthers came close to winning the region last year, losing on the road to West Florence by a touchdown.
Garcia said this group hopes to win the region this year and at least reach the third round of the playoffs. The Panthers have fallen in the second round the last two years.
“We had a great season and everything,” Garcia said of 2018. “But I feel this year that everybody’s more hungry about fighting for each other and winning these games and taking the region and going as far as we can.”
Garcia will certainly be a part of that. Last season, his first as a varsity starter, he threw for nearly 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also ran for more than 500 yards and scored 13 times on the ground.
“Mason’s a great kid,” Morris said. “He’s worked really hard on and off the field. If you watch him mature over four years, where he’s come from as a young man has been really, really exciting to watch. … He’s a great football player, but he’s a really good kid and really works hard. He’s been everything we want and more.”
Along with Garcia, the Panthers’ lineup features a strong offensive line, experienced receivers and star running back David Legette, who averaged nearly 150 rushing yards per game last year.
Altogether, Carolina Forest should be formidable. And for his senior year, Garcia hopes to lead the team to another level of success.
“Just trying to keep the program moving ahead,” he said.