South Tahoe football stars sign with colleges


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Tahoe seniors, and friends, Jake Tarwater and Mason Hage were all smiles on Wednesday as they committed to colleges in front of family members and coaches during a ceremony at the high school.

Normally South Tahoe’s signing celebrations have dozens of students and teachers along with family members, but due the coronavirus restricting normalcy, it had to be a cozy get-together.

Tarwater is headed to Truman State, a division II university in Missouri, and Hage has committed to DIII powerhouse University of Mount Union in Ohio.

“These kids have been a pleasure to coach, this whole senior class has been rock solid, and we still have some others who plan to sign,” said Vikings head coach Louis Franklin, who has had 12 players commit to four-year colleges since he started coaching South Tahoe in 2015. “This class in particular are great humans. They’re going to be good fathers, good husbands, great community members. They’re the best of what South Tahoe has.”

Tarwater stars under microscope

There’s no way around it, Jake Tarwater has been playing under a microscope for his three years as a starting varsity quarterback. His father, Jim Tarwater, was a beloved longtime superintendent for the Lake Tahoe School District before retiring in June 2020.

Jake Tarwater signs his commitment to Truman State surrounded by his parents Jim and Gina Tarwater.

“How he handles himself on campus and in the community with the pressure he’s had on him — and we put a lot of pressure on him to start as a sophomore, has just been amazing,” said Career Technical Education Exercise Science Teacher Everett Goldberg, who has helped Jake develop in the weightroom from a spindly eighth grader to a 6-4, 220-pound mobile muscle monster under center. “Jake probably has been in this weight room 100 hours more than anybody else. His mom’s always complaining that she has to go buy new pants because they don’t fit anymore.”

Jake visited the campus at Truman once where he met coaches and some players and felt right at home. He said he enjoyed his visit and said it wasn’t a hard call to make where to play his college ball.

“I liked everything about the school and campus,” Jake said. “And the academic side was of large importance to me. It gave me everything I needed basically. It wasn’t that tough of a decision. There were a couple of other schools in the conversation, but Truman State was at the top.”

He said he might study business or history, which is right in line considering the college was renamed in 1996 after an historic president.

Jake said he’s received a lot of support to help him succeed along the way.

“I’ve been lucky to have a lot of support to get where I am, especially my parents,” Jake said. “My teammates have pushed me to be the best player I can be and all my coaches, Franklin, (Geoff) Petties and especially Goldberg since I’ve been with him since eighth grade, have helped me along the way. I couldn’t ask for better teammates and coaches.”

Hage grows into a top receiver in Nevada

Mason Hage is one player that has used the virus quarantine to grow as an athlete and also into a young adult.

Mason Hage signs his commitment to Mount Union surrounded by his parents Marc Hage and Heather Graham.

Mason scratched the surface in his junior season as to what kind of player he can be. He earned first team All-State for hauling in 45 passes for 1,093 yards and seven touchdowns.

“Mason and Jake are my first class of five years,” Goldberg said. “Quarantine has been good for one kid and he’s standing right here. It helped him mature and he needed that space to internally take on more responsibility. When we came back from quarantine, he’s been a more mature kid and has come a long way.”

Mason wants to win football games, so when Mount Union called while he was traveling to visit another school and said they wanted him there to help win another title, he was in.

“I was driving to go visit Eastern Oregon when they called me and said they wanted to get straight to the point,” Mason said. “They said ‘We love to win, and we know you want to win so let’s talk more and get this rolling.’ It was a late conversation and I was about to commit somewhere else. But I want to win and get a national championship. They’ve got 13 of them and I want a ring.”

Mason likes the coaching staff that he said includes a pair of former NFL players.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder also likes to listen to people’s problems and plans to study psychology.

Mason said he learned everything and grew close to his positional coach Petties, who played collegiately at Eastern Oregon, and added that all the coaches and his parents have supported him along the way.

“Coach Petties kind of laid the foundation for what I’ve done,” Mason said. “All the coaches have supported and helped me through to get me to where I need to be. But I worked closely with Petties.”

“I think for this community, younger males need to see kids like this,” Franklin said. “And all the younger kids know these guys. They’ve always had huge expectations because of parents and because of early success. They have had the magnifying glass on them the whole time and they’ve both done very well.”

Jake Tawater (left) and Mason Hage celebrate Saturday during South Tahoe’s big win over Wooster.

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