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THE ART OF GOING VIRAL: How Del Oro wide out Mason Hurst became one of the most-watched prep football players in the United States

By: Ike Dodson of the Auburn Journal
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Mason Hurst Highlight Reel

6 feet, 1 inch tall

190 pounds

52 receptions*

790 receiving yards*

7 touchdowns

8 interceptions*

254 int. return yards*

86 tackles

*team high

 Mason Hurst videos featured by:

• USA Today High School Sports

• Maxpreps.com

• Sacramento Maxpreps

• High School Sports America

Maxpreps accolades

• Nov. 13 - Catch behind the back in playoff win

• Nov. 17 - No. 3 national top play for week Nov. 6 - Nov. 13

• Dec. 15 - Top-five one-handed catches of 2015 (No. 2)

Anybody can go viral once.

You just have to learn a Darwin-inspired dance routine, film your cat doing cat things or stumble into any sort of recorded mishap.

The tricky part is going viral twice — an art mastered by Del Oro High junior wide receiver/safety Mason Hurst, a sensational playmaker on a team stacked with playmakers.

As Del Oro football (9-6) prepares for today’s 4 p.m. California Interscholastic Federation Division II-AA State Bowl Championship game against Camarillo (15-0), Hurst prepares for a potential encore to his already spectacular postseason highlight reel.

Mason is the younger brother of 2015 Del Oro graduate Logan Hurst, the varsity quarterback last year. Mason was quarterback on the 10-0 Del Oro freshman team in 2013, but switched positions when he went varsity as a sophomore.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 190-pound ballhawk made national headlines when he plucked a Stone Smartt pass from behind the back of a Whitney defender (while his arms were wrapped around the defensive back). He spun away, broke tackles and scored.

Within a week, Maxpreps.com had touted the catch on its national football page, as one of the best plays viewers would see all season. It was an easy national play of the week selection in another video.

Mason followed that spectacular grab with an even better one, leaping to palm a desperate Smartt bullet pass with just one hand, before turning up field and plowing his way to a vital score against Liberty in the NorCal finals last week.

The catch was No. 2 on Maxpreps’ top one-handed catches of the year, nationwide, and was covered by USA Today High School Sports and High School Sports USA.

“As remarkable as the team’s run to the state title game was the one-handed catch by junior wide receiver Mason Hurst,” Jerry Fisher of High School Football America wrote.

“Which play was better? That’s like choosing a favorite child,” Cam Smith of USA Today added. “Hurst and Del Oro fans have every right to love both of these plays forever.”

Mason hasn’t missed the fanfare that follows his catches, but said Wednesday that he would trade 20 viral catches for a win.

“Honestly, I am just playing how I know that I can play,” he said. “I know that I can make those plays and I will do anything I can to make my team pumped up.”

“I love how much my team supports me and congratulates me after a big play. It’s awesome.”

Mason said the Golden Eagles aren’t daunted by the task before them, facing an undefeated team of a much larger enrollment on the state championship stage.

A gauntlet schedule that forced six losses and plenty of speculation to coach Casey Taylor’s system has unified this group for a common purpose. It’s perhaps the most unique journey any team has endured to reach the state championships. Del Oro fought off postseason elimination seven times.

 “Camarillo, for example, hasn’t lost, so they don’t know what it’s like to be doubted, have the whole town rule you out and know what it’s like to battle back when it counts the most,” Mason said. “Our offense just started clicking, we started to trust each other more and we stuck to it from the beginning, believing in the process.

“We know what’s at stake and we haven’t come this far to throw it all away.”

No one doubts you now, Mason. The big plays speak for themselves.