MULLINS, S.C. – Coach John Williams and the Mullins Auctioneers aim to maintain momentum, riding the wave of an 8-2 record last season that ended in a 7-6 road loss at Timberland in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.
The Auctioneers have fully implemented the addition of more than a dozen former players from the Creek Bridge Warriors football program due to a district student merger. Williams said he was impressed with the infusion of talent and focused on building what he calls “one big family.”
“They’re really fitting in with us, too,” he said. “We’re family out here and haven’t had one problem.”
As for the training camp, Williams likes the collection of talent he views on the field.
“It’s going great,” Williams said. “I think we held our own in a scrimmage at Cheraw. Now we’re polishing it up and getting ready.”
Offensive line will be the key to success, he said. Mullins returns junior left tackle Josh Bell and experienced guard Kaleb Floyd.
“If we can make our offensive line with the talent we got at the skill positions, look out,” Williams said. “We have more playmakers than we had last year. We got a lot of weapons and loaded on offense.”
Williams said he believes the defense will be the strength of the team. Senior defensive tackle Jordan Smith and All-Pee Dee defensive back DeMaurii Platt lead the unit.
“I need Platt to focus and keep working hard,” Williams said. “He is a talented individual.”
Williams said Smith is a powerful four-year starter.
“The sky is the limit for Jordan,” he said.
The Auctioneers return six starters on defense. On offense, they are loaded at wide receiver with seniors Sammy Pressley, B.J. Crawford and Shaq Gordon along with junior Alim Legette.
“We got some others just as talented,” Williams said. “Wide receiver is our most talented group.”
Mullins loses 2,600 yards of production from USC Gamecock freshman Xavier Legette, after his stellar senior season at quarterback. Stepping up is former Creek Bridge Warriors quarterback Marcus Chandler. The senior immediately took to the position for Mullins, working with coaches since spring practice.
The Auctioneers will open the season Friday at Latta on Week 0 in a nonconference game.
The Mullins offense is expected to make use of a fleet of wide receivers. Pressley, a senior, led the team with 23 catches for 450 yards last season. Gordon, a senior, is another big target and deep threat along with Legette, a junior. Williams said Legette will be counted on to make plays at multiple positions, including quarterback. Last season he scored touchdowns on offense and defense. Mullins also features four receivers taller than 6-foot-1.
Replacing 1,400 yard rusher Sharod Burrough will be a stable of running backs featuring former Creek Bridge power back Isaac “Bull” Hemingway and Omarion Page.
The offensive line adds newcomer Kawon Ceo at center. Junior Deonte Stackhouse, another Creek Bridge addition has impressed coaches at right tackle. Senior Javarius Woods is another Creek Bridge product that will be expected to contribute immediately.
Chandler, a senior, brings his experience at quarterback for Creek Bridge last season to become the starter for Mullins. The track star maintains the Mullins offensive scheme with a dual-threat quarterback.
The Auctioneers’ defense starts up front with Smith. A force against the run, Smith had 40 tackles last season.
Senior linebacker Russell Dowley returns as the team’s leading tackler with 75 stops last season. Dowley has been a force during practices and should be more productive. Junior Ron Gause is another run stopper who will split time at linebacker and defensive end. Senior defensive end JaHaven Phillips returns as a starter. Williams said Phillips is drawing the attention of college recruiters with several teams on his trail.
Platt, a senior cornerback, will be counted on to cover primary receivers. Platt is physical and hard hitting. He will have back up at safety in Crawford. Both players intercepted four passes last season. Former Creek Bridge player Taytron Gause and sophomore Nazail Robinson also will contribute in the secondary.