Always a Cadet: Jason Mantooth wants a strong close to his Cascade football career
By Mike Beas
The first rushing attempt in Jason Mantooth’s high school football career took place seven months before his 15th birthday. The gain was minimal in terms of distance but significant in teaching a varsity newcomer what he would need to excel at that level.
“The first thing I was trying to look for was the outside edge,” said Mantooth, a Cascade senior running back, as he remembered the early stages of a 20-13 home loss to North Putnam in the 2016 season opener. “I don’t think I got a yard. It was a really hard hit.”
Mantooth, who weighed only 145 pounds at the time, bounced up. He understood the players attempting to chase him down were older, stronger, faster and every bit as determined. Now after gaining 15 pounds, countless visits to the school’s weight room and playing many games, it’s safe to say Mantooth has become one of those players who was chasing him down.
He’s one of three Mantooths on the Cadets’ roster. His brother Jackson is a sophomore running back, and his cousin Damon, is a junior receiver and defensive back.
Jason is part of a 15-player senior class working hard to be the ground floor of a successful program in Class 2A and as a new member of the Indiana Crossroads Conference.
“It’s vastly important to have a group of seniors who believe in themselves,” said fourth year Cascade head coach Steve Spinks. “Jason and the rest of the seniors are why we’re getting better as a program. Jason has sheer effort and determination in everything he does. He has embraced everything we’ve brought in as a staff.”
Mantooth is hesitant to talk about what physical attributes he possesses that allow him to average 7.4 yards a carry this season. Four of Mantooth’s classmates are among those doing the blocking: left tackle Wil Lanphier, right guard Brayden Stinnett, right tackle Carter Dugan and tight end Clay McPeek.
“When they do their job, it makes it easier for me,” said Mantooth. “It all starts up front.”
Cascade’s final two regular season games are at home against Monrovia on Oct. 11 and Cardinal Ritter on Oct. 18. Depending on the upcoming sectional draw, they could be the final times Mantooth plays on a field that has been his home turf since he was in elementary school.
Mantooth carries a 3.3 grade point average and hopes to get a chance to play college football for a Division II, III or NAIA program.
In the meantime, he’s attempting to soak up every aspect of these final weeks as a Cadet. Spinks, a former Whiteland assistant coach who took the Cascade job when the current seniors were freshmen, said nothing is out of his running back’s reach.
“I don’t have kids of my own, but if I had a son and he stood for what Jason Mantooth stands for, I would be the most proud dad on the planet,” Spinks said. “Jason is somebody who is going to have some really great times in his life.”