Bulldogs’ do-it-all captain Mahn a ‘model of consistency’By Mike Berger
He’s No. 2 in the Canton football program, and chances are you will see Woanyen Mahn on every down: offense, defense, and special teams.
Quietly, Mahn has developed into one of the most talented football players on the team, amassing over 750 rushing yards and making 40 tackles on defense and special teams. He also has one interception as the team’s top cornerback, covering the opponent’s best receiver each week.
To head coach Dave Bohane, Mahn is the ideal teammate and a player he tells his underclassmen to emulate.
“Woanyen is someone who exemplifies the player I am looking for in my program — a model of consistency, a good student, honest as anyone, mature beyond his years, a great outlook on life,” said Bohane. “He set the bar on what a player should be. He comes in and does his job every week.”
A senior captain, Mahn is one of the candidates for the Ricky Shannon Award, given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of the former Bulldog standout who died in a house fire in 2008. The award will be voted on by the players and coaches, and the chosen player will wear Shannon’s No. 27 jersey during Thursday’s game.
In addition to all of the intangibles that he brings, Mahn’s football talent is real. On offense, he is one of the leading rushers in Canton’s vaunted rushing attack. He is a perfect complement to fellow captain Jake Ragusa’s inside power game, utilizing the speed that has made him one of the top sprinters in the Hockomock League and one of the leaders of the CHS outdoor track team.
“Once Woanyen turns the corner and feels an opening, he is somebody who turns it on and is very hard to bring down,” said Bohane. “Oftentimes he is unstoppable.”
Bohane said Mahn is so athletic and smart that he considered making him a quarterback as a sophomore. But he realized Mahn’s talent as a running back and kept him in his original position.
All of this is even more amazing considering that Mahn did not play organized football until his freshman year at CHS.
“When I first saw Woanyen his freshman year he was very green and inexperienced,” Bohane said. “But you could see his overall athleticism and speed. The rest is his commitment to learning the game and his commitment in the weight room.”
A native of Corvallis, Oregon, Mahn was in eighth grade when he moved to Massachusetts with his family, including his sister, Wonser, a senior on the CHS outdoor track team, his younger brother Bahsor, also a young football player, and mother Elizabeth.
The roots of Mahn’s involvement with Canton football began at the middle school when he met Joe Bires and Kevin Powers and he played in the GMS student-teacher basketball game. Jeff Eckler, CHS assistant coach and a physical education teacher at the Galvin, talked to Mahn after the game and suggested that he talk to Bohane about the CHS football program — and the rest is history.
Mahn said the key to his playing every down is the strength and conditioning work that he puts in over the summer. A typical week for him this past summer not only included playing basketball but also working in the weight room every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, running two and a half miles each day, and then doing sprints on the CHS turf field on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
His toughest challenge is playing cornerback and defending the opponent’s top receiver. “[The receiver] knows where he is going; you don’t,” he said.
Mahn said he has a special relationship with the seniors that he has played with during his four years at CHS, not only on the field but in the weight room and in the classroom.
“Working hard in the weight room has made a difference for this team,” he said. “We have done some great things this year and want to keep it going. This Thanksgiving game means a lot to us.”
Mahn wants to continue his football journey beyond Thanksgiving as he hopes to enter a college program while pursuing a degree in computer science. But for now, he is just enjoying his senior season and focused on helping the team and “teaching the younger kids how to play the game the right way.”
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