Living up to a Legacy

STEVE CORNELIUS I CJ

Seven-year-old Mason Brooks stands outside the gates of the football field named after his great grandfather William Marshall Clark. Brooks still has a few more years before he get to play high school football games on Clark Fields, but he will get to play on the newly turfed field against his peers this fall.

At four-feet tall and 53 pounds, seven-year-old Mason Brooks may not seem too intimidating. But given his talent at his age level and his genetic background, Mason Brooks could very well make a name for himself on the Somerset football fields - just like his great grandfather did so many years ago.

Mason Brooks is the great grandson of Somerset High School legendary Coach William Clark. And it is his great grandfather's name that is etched in gold letters on the front gates of the Somerset High School football field. And it is through those gates that Mason Brooks hopes to play in a 'purple and gold' uniform on the autumn Friday nights.

Coach William Clark not only left a legacy for his great grandson Mason Brooks, but he left a legacy for any player who ever put on a 'purple and gold' Briar Jumper uniform.

"I know that he (Coach Clark) played football for Somerset and he coached football, basketball and tennis for them," Mason Brook said. "The football field is named after him, too."

With Clark Field in the process of being covered in artificial turf, the Somerset Youth Football League has now made plans to schedule some of their games on the same field the high school players play on. And while the thoughts of playing on a newly artificial turfed Clark Field is exciting to most every young player in the Somerset Youth Football League, it is an especially gratifying thought for Coach Clark's great grandson.

"I'm excited to play on the field that is named after my great grandpa," Mason Brooks exclaimed. "I think that's pretty cool. And I think I can run faster on turf."

At just seven years old, Mason Brooks just likes to play football on any field, but as he gets older he will probably gain more insight on the impact his great grandfather had on the school's athletic programs.

"I don't think he's old enough to really understand the significance of it, but it will come in time," stated his mom and Coach Clark's granddaughter Kerri Brooks. "I will sure love watching him play on that field."

The newly turfed Clark Field will incorporate a smaller kid-friendly lined gridiron just beyond the south goal post. The small grassy area has been a 'game time' youth playing field for many years. This upcoming fall, the little Briar Jumpers of tomorrow will get their chance to have their own games on their own field on Friday nights.

Mason Brooks and his friends will get their chance to stage their own epic football games each Friday night.

"I can't wait to play on the little field behind the goal at high school games," Mason Brooks gleamed.

Over the past several years, Mason Brooks has admired many of the high school players on the Somerset High School football team.

"Peyton Hatcher was one of my favorite players because he works super hard in the off season," Mason stated. "I liked Chance Stayton because he plays hard and he always plays with me when I see him, and Kaiya Sheron is one of my favorites because he wears the same number as me and he throws the ball good to me at camp."

Mason Brooks also looks up to his father Brandon Brooks, who was a standout running back for the Briar Jumpers in the late 1990's. Brandon Brooks was a All-State performer his senior season as he racked up over 1,200 rushing yards and was equally dangerous in the defensive backfield.

And it was his dad's love of the game and his family's football legacy, that got a young Mason Brooks interestd in playing football for the Briar Jumpers

"I started playing football when I was 5 years old, but before then, my dad always played football with me in the yard and took me to watch my cousins play," Mason stated. "I was the water boy for the Cowboys in the SYFL when I was 4 years old. I also watched my dad play in the alumni games."

And while he has a few years ahead of him before he gets to play on the big gridiron field on Friday nights, Mason Brooks is making a name for himself in the Somerset Youth Football League.

Brooks is just one of many young talented players that will take to the field this fall in the Somerset Youth Football League. Brooks, along with Drew Anderson, Landry Anderson, Brysten Wells, Anykn Johnson, Chase Crawford, Trey Taylor and James Brown, will all play in the Stars & Stripes Youth Football Showcase, on Saturday, June 29, in Nashville, Tenn.

Mason Brooks has helped guide his Pee Wee youth football team to back-to-back SYFL Super Bowl wins, and he was named awarded MVP of his team last season.

However, Brooks' athletic talents are not just limited to the gridiron. Brooks won regional wrestling titles in 2018 and 2019. He won a state wrestling title in 2018 and was state runner-up in 2019. He was also a Bluegrass Nationals runner-up and an AAU Top 100 placer this past season.

But Somerset Briar Jumper football is Mason Brooks' true passion. Just like it was for his parents and his great grandfather.

"I cheered for the Steelers in the youth league, then Meece Middle, and I was a cheerleader at Somerset High School," his mom Kerri Brooks explained. "Brandon played for the Cowboys, then Meece Middle and then played football at Somerset High School."

And whether it is on the little youth gridiron behind the goal post or on the main football playing field, Mason Brooks will carry on the legacy let behind by his great grandfather William Marshall Clark.

STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at sports@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.

Steve Cornelius has worked as a journalist at the Commonwealth Journal since 2001, and has been the CJ Sports Editor since 2005.