Masnari Howell has been in on nearly every big passing play for Harker Heights this district season. But the senior receiver has only been playing the position for his high school career. The one-time running back might have seemed like a perfect match for the Knights’ run-based offense, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming a key contributor in the passing game. And with Heights needing a win to reach the postseason, Howell is hopeful his last big play, a 51-yard touchdown against Waco Midway, wasn’t his last.
How long have you been playing football?
All my life — ever since third grade.
Do you play any other sports?
I play basketball.
Is football your primary?
Have you always been a receiver?
Nah, I was actually a running back until my freshman year, then they moved me to receiver, and I’ve been starting varsity since my sophomore year.
Do you still have a bit of a running back mentality since you’ve been playing it since third grade?
It depends what side of me comes out. Like, if I’m mad or more aggressive, yeah, the running back comes out. But when I’m at receiver, I’ve got to play a lot smarter.
When they first moved you to receiver what was your reaction to that?
I mean I liked it because I was always faster than the other kids. And I liked catching the ball more.
What was it like being a sophomore starting on varsity?
It was definitely something new that I wasn’t ready for, but after a couple of games into the season it got me prepared to where I am now.
How much do you feel like you’ve grown as a receiver compared to when you first started?
I feel like I’ve grown a lot. I feel like as every year goes on, I’ve learned more and more, especially meeting new coaches and people.
What is it like to be a receiver in this run-first offense?
We have a great quarterback (Troy Smith), so we can really be expected for anything. We have a great running back (Marcus Anderson II), so it feels good to have opportunities drawn. There’s a lot more different people outside that give me a chance to get the ball because (defenses) don’t know what to expect.
Obviously, Troy can use his legs and his arm, so you might be downfield and next thing you know you’ve got to block. What’s that like?
It’s nothing that we’re not used to, that’s why we practice hard.
What’s it like having a dynamic player like that as your quarterback?
I have to always keep my eyes open. We were throwing over the summer, so we got to know each other’s mentality together a lot more, and it’s just a chemistry that we have.
Is there any more pressure knowing in this offense knowing you might only see five passes come your way in a game?
I just think about my senior year and what I want to do to be great. So, I try to take advantage of every opportunity.
How does it feel when you’re able to break a big one like you did last week?
It feels pretty good. It definitely gives me something to keep working toward. It keeps me hungry.
Speaking of hungry, you have Copperas Cove this week, needing a win to get into the playoffs. What’s the mentality going in?
We’ve got to be soldiers as coach (Jerry Edwards) was saying. We’ve got to play for this team, play for our seniors. We’ve just got to go out and do our thing — no mistakes, and I think we’ll be good.