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Mullins High School

Mullins exceeding expectations this season

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Mullins—Many people expected Mullins to take a step back this year after longtime quarterback Riyan Gore and several other key playmakers graduated in 2016. However, the Auctioneers have been a pleasant surprise.

“Our kids have really stepped up on the defensive side of the ball. They’re playing good defense this season. They were all sophomores last year and now they’re juniors,” head coach John Williams said. “It’s been somebody at every level. Our whole defensive line has really played well. We’ve forced a lot of turnovers and that’s given the offense some short fields.”

Just over the halfway point of the regular season, Mullins is 3-3 overall with victories over Creek Bridge and McBee. They are 1-1 in Region 7-AA after nearly shutting out Johnsonville, 37-2.

“We were clicking on all cylinders and they couldn’t move the ball against our defense. We had good field position, which was big,” Williams said of the conference victory.

The Auctioneers switched to a 5-2 scheme on defense, and nose guard Cameron Weeks has been a steady presence in the middle, registering 29 tackles. George Smith and KeSean Jones are the two tackles, and Jaylon Ritter (two interceptions) and Sammy Pressley are the ends.

At the second level, linebacker Cameron Bethea has a team-high 33 tackles and is joined by Ron Gause. In the secondary is Xavier Legette, CJ Crawford and Sharrod Burroughs, who has six sacks on the season.

Burroughs has also been a star on the offensive side of the ball, leading the team with more than 600 yards rushing. Ritter is the top receiver with 350 yards and five touchdowns. The biggest question mark for Mullins at the skill positions has been at quarterback, where injuries have slowed the attack.

“We’re working with our third string quarterback this week. The other two are out with concussions and we’ve had a time with injuries. We’re going to do the best we can. We’re going to try to run the football and play good defense. That’s what we’ve been doing so far,” Williams said.

The offensive line, which was expected to be a strength with so much experience returning, has been solid at moving the ball down the field. Bryce Brown, Chris Wicker, Darius Robinson, Raquan McDonald and Samarious Harley have been a bright spot this season.

“The whole offensive line has been blocking well. Four of the five started last year, and the other one that didn’t start still played. They’re all doing well,” Williams said.

Mullins will need another victory down the stretch to clinch their second straight playoff berth, but the road doesn’t get any easier. The Auctioneers host Carvers Bay, the top team in the region, this Friday.

“We’ll see what happens. I think we can play with them,” Williams said.

Mullins then travels to Kingstree (Oct. 13) before hosting Latta (Oct. 20). They are at rival Marion (Oct. 27) to wrap up the regular season.

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