MASON – Nick Vondra was the one throwing the passes and Jarrett VanHavel was one of the receiving options during their early days playing football.
The roles are now reversed, but the connection remains the same for the Mason seniors.
“It’s actually really funny,” Vondra said. “Him and I joke about it all the time and I’m always telling him that I’m still coming for him and I’m coming to steal his quarterback spot.
“It’s just funny to see the way things have changed over time.”
VanHavel has transformed from a fullback/linebacker into a quarterback, while Vondra has become a receiver. And together they’ve helped a Mason football program known for its ground game evolve into more of a passing team. The 5-2 Bulldogs, who are a win shy of reaching the state playoffs for a third straight season and seventh time in eight years, have relied on their passing game at times this season.
“We just have evolved into a very balanced offense and we’re really very 50-50 now,” veteran Mason coach Jerry VanHavel said. “We never really used to be even close to that. It’s really just the kids we have and it’s a team effort. We have very high IQ football kids. Obviously you’re not able to throw the ball if you don’t have really good linemen that can protect and other kids that can catch the ball. We’re very balanced offensively, which is good for us.”
A product of Mason’s success in the air has been Jarrett VanHavel and Vondra ranking among the area’s leaders in passing and receiving. Both also made history earlier this month when they set school career records for passing and receiving in a victory over Haslett.
Mid-Michigan prep football leaders: Oct. 15
“We’ve played football together all the way through so it was awesome to be able to break it not only in the same year, but in the same game,” Jarrett VanHavel said. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the line, giving us the time to be able to throw around a little bit and giving him time to be able to get open. He runs great routes and gets open. He’s done a great job.”
Vondra has established new school records in career catches (95), career receiving yards (1,280) and receiving yards in a season (704) this fall. Jeremy Haynie, who played from 1995-96. previously held the records.
VanHavel has set school records for career completions (317) and career passing yards (4,484) this fall, surpassing the old marks established by Chad Somerville from 2001-04.
Both have enjoyed having a part in the success through the air and giving Mason an added dimension that could help it if it reaches the postseason.
“Making a presence in the passing game and giving teams another difficult thing to defend against — it feels so good to be able to do that with Jarrett and our offensive line and all the other receivers,” Vondra said. “I’ve got to give credit to everyone out there. All the guys making me better in practice, making me better in the offseason and the line giving Jarrett enough time to get me the ball out there. It’s great.”
Contact Brian Calloway at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.