Shadow inspires Warriors pair Football: Keion Carpenter, now starring for Virginia Tech, was always ahead of Tavon Mason and Reggie Danage at Woodlawn. Now they cite his success as helping them pursue high goals.

October 03, 1997|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,STAFF

Playing alongside each other is great motivation, say No. 10-ranked Woodlawn's Division I football prospects Tavon Mason and Reggie Danage. But there's a bonus, playing in the shadow of alumnus Keion Carpenter, now a third-year star at 14th-ranked Virginia Tech.

"Coming through Woodlawn, I was always in Keion's shadow. In basketball, we both played guard. In football, we both played quarterback and safety," said Mason, 17, whose versatility at quarterback makes him a threat to run, pass or catch for the Warriors (3-0). "I always wanted to play football in college, but when Keion did it, that made my road even clearer. It made me even more focused than I was before."

As a senior All-Metro defensive back in 1994, Carpenter was a preseason honorable mention All-American in SuperPrep.

Clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Carpenter finished his final high school year with seven interceptions. As a quarterback, he passed for 1,007 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 617 yards and six more scores.

Carpenter (now 6-feet, 205 pounds) has added 23 pounds, grown three inches, overcome reconstructive surgery to his left knee and earned pre-season All-Big East honors.

Like Carpenter, Danage (5-10, 165 pounds) and Mason (6-1, 175) are each 4.4-second speedsters with plenty of drive. Both are listed in several tout sheets, including the National Recruiting Advisor, which ranks them among the east region's best.

"Every chance I get, I'm watching Keion on television," said Danage, 17. "I haven't missed a game where he's the starter."

Both players watched last season as Carpenter punctuated Virginia Tech's 21-7 victory over Miami with a school-record 100-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1: 54 remaining. The effort earned him Defensive Player of the Week honors in the Big East.

Even more impressive is the fact that Carpenter is a 3.0 grade-point average student on pace to graduate before his athletic eligibility is over.

"Keion's told me that he was a hard-head when he was younger, but now he's turned that around," said Mason, who, like Danage, speaks frequently with Carpenter. "I don't have a problem listening to anything Keion has to tell me, because he's been where I want to go, and he's a lot wiser than I am."

Danage carries a 2.87 GPA and already has qualified under the NCAA's freshman eligibility standards with an SAT score of 970. He's considering Maryland, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Villanova and North Carolina.

Mason carries a 3.65 GPA and expects to qualify on Oct. 4 -- his third SAT try. He likes Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina State, Miami, Syracuse and Florida.

"When Reggie got his 900 [on the SAT] I told him, 'I'm going to do better than that,' " said Mason, who raised his SAT score 170 points between his first and second tries. "Anything one of us does, the other guy has to do it better."

Danage says he's tried to equal Mason's 250-pound bench press.

"Whether it's weights, grades or playing football, I'm always trying to do better than Keion and Tavon," Danage said. "Just watching them and what they do motivates me to work harder."

On the football field, the Woodlawn seniors have each seen ac- tion as cornerbacks and on special teams. Mason has broken up three passes, caused three fumbles and totaled eight tackles, and Danage has four tackles.

Mason, also the quarterback, averages 29 yards per punt return and has rushed for 473 yards. He also has four receptions for 105 yards. Mason has 11 touchdowns, nine rushing and two on passes. Danage averages 21 yards on kickoffs. He has rushed for 287 yards and has three touchdowns.

"They're both great athletes, like Keion, and their strength is the versatility they bring to our team," said coach Brian Scriven, whose Warriors have outscored opponents 107-13, with three shutouts. "In our first two games, other teams have scouted us heavily. They're going to be watched all year, but if you key on them, that'll hopefully open things up for others."

Carpenter also is keeping tabs on his former teammates.

"He was at our first game against Walbrook [a 15-0 shutout]," said Danage. "We were the little guys when he was here at Woodlawn, but we had a chance to show him how the little guys had matured."

Pub Date: 10/03/97

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