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Mr. Football finalist ignores accolades and snubs

The newspaper industry provided me a four-decade career experiencing inspiration, dedication and just plain fun. The start of my career covering the Chargers, college, high school sports and Olympic athletes came full circle with Don Coryell’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction on August 5 in Canton, Ohio. I helped Hall of Famer Dan Fouts with research on Coryell’s remarkable record of first-time Pro Bowlers with the SAN DIEGO Chargers and Cardinal for Fouts’ presentation to the voters.

So, despite the demise of newspapers and no longer having my feet rooted in a paper, I enjoy dipping my toes with the News & Observer to write about Wake County’s top high school athletes.

PHOTO (News & Observer): Millbrook High senior quarterback Mason Fortune, one of three finalists in 2022 for North Carolina’s Mr. Football.



RALEIGH — Let’s start by deleting “gripe” from this story’s glossary. Mason Fortune’s makeup doesn’t allow for such a response, despite his befuddlingly low internet recruit ranking and lack of scholarship offers.

“I don’t let stuff like that get in my head — I really don’t,” Fortune said on the eve of high school football’s opening weekend. “All I care about is winning. I need to keep doing what I’ve been doing and hopefully I’ll get offered.”

But if such a basic human response did bubble into the Millbrook High quarterback’s psyche, it’s understandable.

After all, the third-year starter enters his senior year building upon an impressive resume. The Wildcats, an NCHSAA Regional finalist last year, open 2023 in the U.S. Army-sponsored doubleheader Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park. Millbrook meets Apex Friendship at 4 p.m., and Fuquay-Varina and Middle Creek follow at 7:30 p.m.

You’ll need a subscription to read the remainder of my N&O story:


Tom Shanahan, who covered the Air Coryell Chargers, is an author and historian on college football integration of one book, “Raye of Light,” with second book due out soon, “The Right Thing To Do.” The Football Writers Association of America awarded him first place for his story on the 1962 Rose Bowl, Alabama and segregation


I invite you to follow me on Twitter @shanny4055.

Click here for my story on the 1962 Rose Bowl and Segregation awarded first place by the Football Writers Association of America. I tell untold stories on Michigan State’s leading role and the true pioneers of college football integration. Click here to read a summary.

Click here for my NIL partners.

Click here to purchase Raye of Light.


Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the 1ntegration of College Football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans

Foreword by Tony Dungy

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