With Neighbor under center, 8-1 Alburnett will get a rematch against East Buchanan
ALBURNETT, Iowa (KCRG) - Alburnett senior Mason Neighbor played mostly cornerback and wide receiver last season for the Pirates. This season he’s solidified his starting role at quarterback, even though he was once told he was too small.
“I was quarterback when we were younger, but the old varsity coach said I was too short. I couldn’t play quarterback my freshman and sophomore year,” Neighbor said.
Growing four inches in about 8 months his sophomore year, helped Neighbor reach new heights. After spending a majority of his junior season playing on defense, he said learning the offense was his biggest challenge this season.
“There’s a lot of plays we go through and all the receivers have different routes that we have to run on certain plays. All that stuff, was probably the hardest part,” he said.
He seems to have a pretty good grasp on it. A large reason for the Pirates’ success has been their passing game. Neighbor has thrown for 1,914 yards which ranks third in Class A. His 27 passing touchdowns rank second.
“I think he’s just dynamic. He doesn’t’ run the ball a whole lot, but he can run the ball, get out of the pocket, move around, create plays and extend plays. That helps a lot,” senior running back and linebacker Carson Klostermann said.
“When he rolls out of the pocket, he does a good job seeing the field, down the field. He can see his receiver take a step within second and once that step is taken. with our receivers, they’ve pretty much got the man beat,” Alburnett football head coach Rich Velazquez added.
In addition to Neighbor, Alburnett’s athletic receivers and a stout line are a big reason the team sits 8-1 on the season. Their only loss was against East Buchanan week 4 and they haven’t forgotten it.
“They were just big kids. We couldn’t stop their rush. They’re coached very well,” Velazquez said. “They’ve been doing that style for such a long time and they’re so good at it.”
“After that game, it woke us up,” Neighbor added. “We were undefeated until that game. Losing that game probably helped us out the most the entire season.”
They’ll get a rematch against the Buccaneers as the two teams are set to meet in the second round of the playoffs. The Pirates are expecting another dog fight, but plan to win the round that matters. A victory Friday would be just the second time an Alburnett team has made it to the quarterfinals. However, they’re proud of the jump they’ve made doubling their win total from a season ago.
“If you would have asked me this my freshman or sophomore year, probably not, but the last two years, we’ve made some really big gains. Everyone works their butt off here, so it’s doesn’t surprise me,” Klostermann said.
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