Mason Nagle shares his path from Pee-Wee to the River Dell High School Freshman Football Team


While growing up, Mason Nagle enjoyed playing many sports, including baseball, soccer, and wrestling. However, from first grade on, Nagle's first love was for football.

"You just pick up a bunch of different things and skills from playing different sports," Mason Nagle remarked. "From hitting in baseball you gain a lot of vision from watching the ball and I say that pays off a lot during football because then you can read everything so much faster."

Playing for the Mighty Mites in the Pee-Wee League, the games took place at Doug Parcells Athletic Complex in Oradell. Thrust right into the offensive line position and teammate Will Brunner by the coaches, both Nagle and Brunner were assigned the dubious jersey numbers of one and two. "We were the two smallest kids on the teams, so they gave us number one and two," Mason Nagle explained.

Nagle accepted the challenge despite the lack of size, sticking with the offensive line position until fourth grade. Afterward, Nagle switched to the middle linebacker spot, wearing the same number #2 jersey since Pee Wee. Continuing to progress up the ladder into junior football, Nagle recognized the importance of mentoring younger kids, reaching a championship game, and cultivating friendships with kids from other towns.

"We had great years' in fourth, sixth, and eighth grade but it was also nice being an older kid showing the younger kids what to do and being an idol and mentor to them," Mason Nagle described. "Being in the top division for junior football we made it all the way to the championship game when the odds were against us and no one thought we were going to make it all the way." It was a great opportunity to play in the championship game and the best team I ever played.

"Two summers ago my friends met up with kids from Paramus, last year we played them in eighth grade and it was fun playing against them."

Fast forward to this year, Nagle transitioned to playing for the River Dell High School freshman football team and training for the 2021 season back in January, with weightlifting to grueling two-day practices in the summer.

"It's really been fun training because the coaches are specialized to train you at your position and I love the lifts," Mason Nagle noted. "Over the summer it was really hot and we're in pads almost all of the time."

Before the regular-season opener against Parsippany Hills on September 4th, the River Dell Golden Hawks freshman team got to scrimmage against Sparta on August 18th and then against Mountain Lakes and Morris Knolls on August 27th.

"It was our first scrimmage ever as a team together and a lot of kids that had never played football before," Mason Nagle mentioned. "It was fun playing with them, getting used to playing with the team and building up some relationships." The second scrimmage we played got us used to play on the high school level, and we realized we were no longer playing junior football.

So far this season, the freshman team is undefeated at 4-0. Displaying versatility Nagle is playing on the freshman squad and JV, where the team currently holds a 2-2 mark. Starting the regular-season opener with a win against Parsippany Hills meant a lot but following that up with a victory over West Essex proved even more memorable.

"Our first game against Parsippany Hills I was pretty nervous but I went out there and had a lot of fun and played my hardest and it paid off," Mason Nagle stated. "It felt great running out onto the field for the first high school game, feeling part of a team and going to contribute to this team." The West Essex game was probably our best game this year; we were down 14-0 at halftime and then came back in the second half and ended up winning 22-21.

"The JV team needs a lot of freshmen so playing for them has been fun too." "We get to play with the older grades, and they play primarily on Mondays." It's fun playing on Mondays because you go to school with your friends and then go into the locker room and get dressed and ready for the game.

For Nagle, it's all about embracing the routine of getting prepared for a game day, especially the home games. Even with the early kickoff times on Saturday mornings, Nagle is up bright and early for the grind. "Usually, I wake up around 7 a.m. but if there is an away game I wake up at 6 a.m.," Mason Nagle said. "I splash some water on my face, get ready and I'm out the door." The adrenaline is pumping in my body for every game.

This season Nagle has displayed a feverish work ethic, playing multiple positions on the freshman JV teams. For the freshman team playing wide receiver/running back and middle linebacker on defense. Meanwhile, on JV playing wide receiver/running back/quarterback and on defense middle linebacker. An avid fan of the NFL, Nagle, said that one player he emulates his game at the middle linebacker position is Ray Lewis, who played with the Baltimore Ravens.

"It's really nice playing both ways since Pee Wee football, and I'm used to playing on both sides of the ball," Mason Nagle cited. "Playing the middle linebacker position I really like reading the offense and that's my favorite position but I also like playing the running back and wide receiver on the offensive side of the ball."

When it comes to the success of the River Dell Golden Hawks freshman football team this season, Nagle points specifically to Chris Kelm and RJ Weiss. Furthermore, the rest of the players that do not receive much playing time and coaching staff; head coach Mike Aliano and assistant coaches Sammy Halabi, Steve Iafrate and John Budka.

"Chris Kelm and RJ Weiss have really stepped up and contributed to this team," Mason Nagle described. "They have worked really hard and showing it on the field." "All the freshman have such a big role on this team, in practices, scrimmages and no matter how much playing time they get all the players work hard on the team together." They give us a great look in practice, and pays off when they get into a game.

"What makes this team so special is all of us love each other, we have great relationships with each other and known each other since we were probably six years old playing Mighty Mites football and building these relationships."

"These are great coaches, they truly do care for you and they know when what it takes to run out on Friday night 's with the varsity football team to get to play on that field." "They motivate us to strive to get there and doing a great job with us."

The support from the students and teachers' at River Dell High School has been very impactful for Nagle. "Going into middle school, I did know a bunch of kids from River Edge because we played football all these years, a great experience, and now we get to go school for the first time," Mason Nagle described." "Having a mixture of kids from River Edge and Oradell, kids we have never met before and building new relationships."

"One of the freshman coaches Steve Iafrate I have for my gym class, it's been a lot of fun because we talk about football a lot and he is always trying to get more players from our class to come and join football and it's just been great so far."

Most important in terms of support to Nagle is from his Mom, Dad, and older sister. Nagle pointed to the pivotal advice he received from his mother after missing a couple of practices last year. "I had a lot of support from my Mom, Dad, and my sister who is seven years older than me," Mason Nagle said. "My Mom and Dad have believed in me since the day I was born and that I would make something great with this world and told me if I worked the hardest and outwork other people it will pay off in the long run."

"Last year, I missed a few practices, and my Mon told me, "Do you want your starting position back?" "She said work so hard they can't help but notice you, and I worked so hard that I got my starting position back last year."

Cognizant of balancing out academics and athletics, Nagle kept us his grades during his freshman year. In closing, he offers this advice for younger athletes. "My message to them is work hard, work harder than everyone else and it will pay off in the long run."

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