Mastropietro, Morales provide potent 1-2 punch for Woodland

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BY KEVIN ROBERTS
REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Woodland High running backs Mason Mastropietro and Christian Morales are a one-two punch that could give Naugatuck Valley League defenses fits this season.
On some plays during an Aug. 23 joint practice at Weston High School, Mastropietro and Morales lined up on either side of a heavy formation, and it was tough for the Trojans to figure out who was getting the ball. That’s just the way that Mastropietro and Morales like it.
“We love it,” Morales said after practice. “This time, me and Mason were doing fakes, we were catching three or four players just thinking he has the ball, I have the ball. It’s amazing, and it works so well.”
At 6-foot-2 and a little less than 200 pounds, the senior Mastropietro is an elusive runner who can blow by people.
“He’s a rare kid to have,” Woodland coach Joe Lato said. “He can be a wide receiver. He can be a linebacker on defense. He can be a running back. He can do it all. It’s not too often as a coach that you get a kid like that, and he’s a good kid.”
And don’t let Morales’ 5-foot-6 frame fool you. If defenders can find them, they may still get run over by the 165-pound junior.
“He’s got good vision, he’s strong, he finishes runs, good, low center of gravity,” Lato said. “All those little intangibles make him special.”
Both Mastropietro and Morales don’t mind taking on the role of a blocking back.
“He’s blocking for me, I’m running with his block, it’s perfect,” Mastropietro said.
“We’ve been together a lot,” Morales said. “We know that both of us can do whatever with the ball. It’s like no matter who it goes to, something good is going to come out of it.”
Mastropietro carried the ball 28 times for 207 yards and two touchdowns, and he also caught four passes from senior quarterback Darren Gasparri for 65 yards and another score, in a 35-0 Class S quarterfinal win over East Catholic last fall. Morales toted the ball 19 times for 163 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
“They’re tight off the field, and that goes a long way, too,” Lato said. “They’re boys, and I think last year we kind of developed them as a one-two punch, and they fed off that.”
Gasparri has graduated, and junior Brett Lato will take over under center. There’s a new quarterback, but Woodland will go with the same multiple-formation, high-tempo style that they’ve had under Joe Lato. That offense brings with it multiple weapons that the Hawks can turn to, and it’s not just Mastropietro and Morales. The formations range from spread to the old-school double-wing.
“It’s a pain in the butt (to defend),” Joe Lato said about the double-wing. “That’s why we do it.”
It doesn’t hurt the Hawks that Mastropietro and Morales push each other.
“It’s fun because we get a little competitive,” Mastropietro said. “We try to see who scores more each game.”
Mastropietro and Morales are looking to push each other, and the Hawks, to a successful 2023 season.
“Repeat what we did last year, but just work harder, play faster and be better,” Mastropietro said.
Woodland opens the season on Thursday, Sept. 7, against Holy Cross at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury.