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Yorktown graduate selected ODAC as the Rookie of Year

Yorktown graduate selected ODAC as the Rookie of Year

Yorktown graduate selected ODAC as the Rookie of Year.

At the time of high school Mason Cunningham was one of those rare, old-school three-sport players – and was a standout in each sport as a member of his team, the Yorktown Patriots.

Then, as a rookie football player Cunningham was able to do something unique for freshmen in college. He was a regular starter and was also an all-star player as rookies are often being red-shirted during their first year or get very little playing time.

The 18-year-old, 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds became a regular wide receiver and was the best punt returner of the Division III Hampden-Sydney College football team in Virginia. At the end of the season, Cunningham caught 59 passes for 666 yards and 6 touchdowns.

“The coaches gave me an opportunity to play and I was glad I could contribute,” Cunningham stated. “I was thinking I’d play the role of a player during my first season in the event that I was able to do so. But I got a chance.”

His most memorable game was at Ferrum College, when Cunningham took 13 passes for 163 yards and scored three touchdowns that covered 18 and 36 yards. He was named a member of the Team of the Week for that game.

As a punt returner Cunningham had eight returns totaling 43 yards. His longest return of 10 yards. Cunningham carried the ball on two occasions, gaining two yards.

The statistics all contributed to Cunningham achieving his Rookie of the Year title within the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, and also a second-team offensive choice as a back with all-purpose capabilities.

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The season got off to a slow start for Cunningham. Cunningham only had one catch in the two games.

Then, when one of his team’s best wide receivers sustained an injury, Cunningham got to play more in the third game. He put on a show with his breakout performance with nine receptions for 116 yards, and scoring a touchdown in the game against Greensboro College.

Following that, Cunningham gained the trust of the quarterback who was the team’s starter. Cunningham was constantly assigned to the position and remained an active player.

Later in the season Cunningham played a nine-catch game that lasted 130 yards with two scores , against Averett University.

He became the most coveted punt returner after an injury to a player.

“I took advantage of my opportunities,” Cunningham declared.

Yorktown graduate selected ODAC as the Rookie of Year

His 59 catches were second-highest in the entire team. Cunningham was a part of every game, beginning seven games, and also caught an average of 59 passes in each game.

Cunningham believes that he left an impact on coaches at Hampden-Sydney during preseason practice by putting in the effort while preparing and studying the film from the 2021 season.

In Yorktown, Cunningham was a star and a starter in football for boys, basketball, and boys soccer. Cunningham was an all-district athlete across all sports in his senior year, and also being an all-regional first-team player in soccer and football and was the team’s the MVP in basketball and football.

In his final year of football, Cunningham had five kick return touchdowns, racked up 1550 all-purpose yards and scored 10 touchdowns on receiving and also caught 47 passes to assist Yorktown take home the Liberty District football championship.

On the soccer field, Cunningham was able to help the team to finish third in the State championship.

The Better Sports Club of Arlington selected Cunningham as its Boys Student/Athlete of the Year.

Cunningham was a popular choice to play soccer at the college level however, he decided to play football in college.

Her sister Caitlin Cunningham is a midfielder in the sophomore class on George Washington University women’s soccer team in the fall of this year’s soccer season.

She was a player in the Marquette University soccer team Marquette University for parts of two seasons prior to joining George Washington.

The Washington-Liberty High School graduate was a player in 15 games with George Washington.

By Patsy S. Nielsen

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