Young age, plenty of experience for new Cactus football coach

Higley graduate Mason Crossland was hired as the Cactus quarterback coach and co-offensive coordinator at age 20. (Photo courtesy Mason Crossland)

Mason Crossland could not stay away long from the high school football field.

The 2017 Higley High School graduate threw for 40 touchdowns and more than 3,000 yards his senior year. His last high school win was November 10, 2016, against Cactus High School.

This June, Crossland was hired as the Cobras’ quarterback coach and co-offensive coordinator at just age 20.

After serving as Higley’s JV offensive coordinator last season, Crossland wanted to step up to the varsity level. He called Cactus coach Joseph Ortiz, who was his Higley offensive coordinator.

“Ever since my sophomore year, he (Ortiz) was really the first coach I had a tremendous connection with. I’ve always just been able to talk to him about anything, and even after high school it stayed the same,” Crossland said.

Ortiz can relate to the young coach, as he started his career at 19.

“He knows this offense as well as I do, and now he’s another set of eyes for me. He will help develop our quarterbacks. I have all the trust in the world,” Ortiz said.

Cactus quarterback Conner Cordts sees the small age gap as a positive.

“I love that Coach Crossland is young,” the senior said. “It’ll help build our relationship as QB and QB coach because we can relate to so much more. And he can give me tips and quality information he saw firsthand playing in this offense.”

Cordts is excited about Crossland’s technical ability. From reading plays, decision-making, footwork and more, the two will spend hours perfecting the passing game.

“The Cactus offense is going to blow people away this season. I know it’s Coach Ortiz’s goal to average at least 30 to 40 points a game, and truthfully I think it’s something we can accomplish,” Cordts said.

The season begins August 30 with a home game against Catalina Foothills. Crossland said the offense has the potential to break records and can spark a playoff run in 4A. The Cobras exited last season’s playoffs in a blowout loss to eventual-champion Saguaro.

Mostly, he is excited to get back on the field that shaped him so much.

“This offense is open for so many opportunities,” Crossland said. “It’s going to be fantastic.”