Beloit running back: the next generation

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Mason Dixon will be chasing his father's records when he takes his first snaps of 2016.
Photo courtesy Beloit Athletics 

Mason Dixon's assault on Beloit College rushing records has been personal – as in family bragging rights personal.

But Dixon is not chasing an older brother or cousin, but his father Steve Dixon. The elder Dixon is the Buccaneers all-time rushing leader, with 4,792 yards, collected from 1990-93. Mason Dixon entered this season in third place on the school's all-time list with 3,663.

While the three-time All-Midwest Conference back, who did not play in Saturday's opener at Lake Forest, said he does not pay a lot of attention to his statistics, his father is always there to remind him.

"He's the one who normally brings it up and taunts me about not being able to break it," Mason Dixon said with a laugh. "It's been a friendly rivalry. Deep down inside, I know he really wants me to get that record. We do joke around about it a lot.

"I honestly don't check my records a lot. My dad has been the one who kept reminding me and at the end of my junior year he updated me."

Mason Dixon, one of Beloit's tri-captains this season, knew he would get the comparisons the day he arrived to play for the Buccaneers back in 2013. The Dixons caused some confusion at times for now retired assistant coach Buck Hessenberger, who was the position coach for both.

"There's definitely that comparison, especially playing the same position," Mason Dixon said. "It's been kind of funny because some of the coaches who were around when my dad played are still around the program. Coach Hessenberger, he's now retired, but would mistakenly call me Steve from time to time, which was actually pretty funny."

While there is plenty to compare and contrast between the two Dixons, Beloit coach Seth Duerr said Mason has clearly become his own man in his four years with the Buccaneers.

"He's an awesome kid," Duerr said. "He's a guy who's pretty quiet overall. He doesn't say much but he's an extremely hard worker. He busts his butt every day in practice and represents our program really well both in the classroom and on the field.

"He's really respected because he goes about his business the right way. He carries himself with a lot of class and he's a leader by example. He's a captain this year not only for who he is but because of his accomplishments as well."

Mason Dixon is actually chasing his father in several categories. Steve Dixon still holds the school record for most yards and most carries in one game, 274 yards on 49 carries against St. Norbert in 1993. He also holds the school record for most rushing touchdowns with 45, compared to his son's 31 so far.

Mason Dixon does edge his father in average rushing yards per season, averaging 1,221 to his father's 1,198. The two share the school record for scoring the most touchdowns in a game with four.

"His parents are highly involved (with the school)," Duerr said of the Dixon family. "We've got a great parent group that does a lot of things with the team. They've been great."

Mason Dixon jokingly said the only pressure he feels about breaking the records comes from his father.

"He loves Beloit. He always wanted me to go here," Mason Dixon said. "I was over here several times visiting and really enjoyed the people here. We have such a good time together. He always wanted me to come here from the beginning; it was like a second home to him."

Mason is not the only Dixon at Beloit. His younger brother Quin is a starting defensive end for the Buccaneers, something the older brother gets a kick out of.

"We actually played high school ball together," Mason Dixon said. "The fact that he plays defense, I get a chance to throw him around a lot. Being a running back and him being a defensive end, it gives us a lot of chances to run into each other. It's a really cool experience to have him on the field. I get a chance to encourage him, especially during games."

Dixon said, though, he also wants to be a mentor to the rest of his teammates and hopefully win a MWC championship the last time in the Beloit backfield.

"I want to be a positive role model for the guys, on the field and off the field," Mason Dixon said. "It means having good judgment. Anything that I have learned over the years, I want to pass down to those guys and help them grow as much as possible."

Mason is now down to nine games to help his teammates and win bragging rights in the Dixon household.

Upset special

Franklin's Chase Burton pulled out a monster game for his opener, completing 51 of 67 passes for 514 yards as the Grizzlies defeated No. 11 Thomas More, 43-39. Burton threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Tanner Wroblewski with 32 seconds left in the game for the come-from-behind win. Thomas More is one of Division III's top programs, going 74-14 over the last eight seasons before Saturday night's game. Wide receiver Deontez Alexander caught 12 of Burton's passes for 164 yards in his Franklin debut after transferring from HCAC foe Anderson. Darrell Crenshaw added 13 catches for 104 yards. Franklin, which has dominated the HCAC for the past six years, has been operating on the fringes of the Top 25 for the past several seasons. This victory could catapult the Grizzlies back into the Division III elite. [Franklin entered the Top 25 at No. 19 in this week's poll.]

Other superlatives

Stone Watson's 73-yard run on the first play of a drive in the third quarter at the 8:56 mark helped break open No. 8 Wheaton's game with Benedictine. The Thunder entered the third quarter with a 12-0 lead after failed extra point attempts after touchdowns in the first half, keeping the Eagles in distance. Watson's thunderbolt run, though, allowed Wheaton some breathing room in its 26-7 victory. Watson finished the game with 120 yards on 10 carries.

Monmouth's two-headed running back monster of DeAndre Wright and Trent Rains proved potent in the Fighting Scots 44-3 road victory over Hope. Wright rushed for 139 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns while Rains, who is bouncing back from an injury last season, rushed for 113 yards on 20 carries and another touchdown.

Game of the week

Franklin at Butler, 6:30 p.m. The Grizzlies will try to keep the good times rolling against non-scholarship Division I Butler on the road. It will be interesting to see what Burton can do for an encore after playing so brilliantly against Thomas More.

Clyde Hughes

Clyde Hughes has been writing sports at various times over the past 24 years, covering everything from high school, college and sporting events. A native of football-crazed Texas, Hughes works in Indiana and has written for numerous newspapers and magazines.
2003-04 columnist: John Regenfuss
1999-2000 columnist: Don Stoner

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