Ellis will play in big game

As freshmen entered Minarets High School four years ago, word quickly spread of a freshman who could ‘dunk’ a basketball. As excited as basketball coach Paul Varner was, football coaches were also interested to see Mason Ellis.

The freshman didn’t disappoint, contributing to the JV football team’s 4-5 record while becoming a ‘big play’ player.

Four years later, at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, the running back started this season with a 162 yard (15 carries), two touchdown performance against Sierra. Although it is early in the season, the senior has developed into one of the premier players in the valley.

Ellis has accepted an invitation to play in the 26th Annual Blue-Grey All American Bowl Jan. 16 at Ever Bank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The game will be televised on Fox Sports.

Following his junior season, Ellis was invited to join the Students With Aspiring Goals (SWAG) program.

SWAG is a mentorship program, directed by Devin Hilliard, that targets underprivileged players from the Valley to advance to four year universities by preparing them for college entrance and enhancing their athletic abilities. The program exposes the athletes to national sporting showcases in hopes of securing them a college scholarship.

Ellis then participated in 7-on-7 competitions throughout the west, attending combines at Weber State, USC, and UNLV, playing with talented athletes from throughout California. He competed in the Regional Combine in San Mateo, performing well enough to earn a invitation to a national super combine.

“I’m super excited for his future,” Hilliard said. “Mason is an outstanding student athlete, leader in Minarets national championship FFA program, and president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Minarets.”

The All-American Bowl has become a must-see event with college coaches across the country. The Blue-Grey football program hosts 20 regional combines and four super combines across the country, most taking place in stadiums and practice facilities that are home to NFL teams. Players such as Florida State quarterback Hunter DeWitt, Michael McGinnis of University of Miami, and Cal quarterback Luke Rubenzer have taken part in the game.

“I’m excited and honored to be selected as a Blue-Grey All-American,” Ellis said. “I believe I have worked very hard and it’s really starting to pay off. I did the best I could in the two combines I went to prior to my selection, and performed at the same level as other elite athletes. I also participated in 7-on-7 with SWAG all summer long. This greatly improved my skill and really showed me the level of college athletes. I couldn’t have done it without my parents, coaches, trainer and of course, God.”

Ellis is believed to be the first Mountain Area player to receive an invitation to the prestigious bowl game. Coaches for the game include 16 year NFL veteran quarterback Randall Cunningham and fellow Eagles player Brian Dawkins, 10 year player Tony Banks, and eight year player and All-Madden team member Mark McMillian.

George Ellis, Mason’s father, and a member of the Mustang coaching staff, was instrumental in bringing new head JV coach Jackson Lakatani to Minarets. Hired as Mason’s personal trainer, he is now the Mustang’s conditioning and weight training director. Lakatani brought several former collage players to assist in the program.

The invitation does come at a cost - players must pay for their transportation, hotel accommodations, and meals, as well as pay for their helmet, pads, and jersey. Expenses are estimated to be $3,500. A “Go Fund Me” account has been set up in his name,, for anyone who would like to assist.