CLINTWOOD — For the Clintwood Greenwave, there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as low tide.
Year after year, coach Rick Mullins is able to fill the gaps left by graduation and put another powerhouse football team on the field. After rolling to a 9-1 record last season and winning the final Lonesome Pine District championship, Mullins faces the task of replacing a pair of amazing backs.
Gavan Meade and Robbie Mullins combined for nearly 2,900 rushing yards and 55 touchdowns last season. Now it’s time for somebody else to step up and fill their shoes.
“Those guys were horses for several years,” Coach Mullins said. “When you’re looking at replacing guys like that, I don’t know if you can replace guys like Gavan Meade, and Robbie and Dillon (Dahley). Those guys were leaders for two or three years.
“But that’s the thing about high school football. You graduate and move on and the next group has to step up.”
Dalton Dahley, a senior, is slated to be Clintwood’s new starting quarterback this season, but he’s hardly a stranger to the position. As a sophomore, he stepped into the starting lineup during the middle of a playoff run and led the Greenwave to a state title.
“I have all the confidence in the world in Dalton,” Mullins said. “He’s a pretty cool customer under pressure.”
Dakota Dahley, a junior, is expected to start at tailback with Cory Stanley, a senior, getting the nod at fullback.
Austin Turner, a junior, is a two-year starter at receiver and a proven playmaker.
“Austin’s a pretty special athlete,” Mullins said. “If the ball’s near him, he’ll go get it.”
Taylor Culbertson, a senior, is expected to start at the other receiver position. With Dalton Dahley in at quarterback, Mullins expects to throw the ball more during Clintwood’s first season in the Cumberland District.
Turner is technically the only returning starter among the position players, but the Greenwave offense will be built on a firm foundation. Mullins said his experienced offensive line is perhaps the strongest, from a physical standpoint, the school has ever had.
“Those guys are brutes,” he said. “We’re going to be pretty good sized up front. I think the offensive and defensive front will be the strength of our team.”
Matt Jones and Logan Fletcher, both seniors, man the tackle positions. Tristan Hayes, a senior, and Daniel Mullins, a junior, start at the guard slots.
Tanner Brooks, a senior, holds down center with senior Nate Mullins returning to the tight end position. Of the returnees up front, Brooks, Jones and Nate Mullins earned All- LPD status a year ago.
On defense, Brooks and sophomore Jason Rose anchor the interior of the line. Jones and Hayes occupy the end positions with Nate Mullins, Trey Puckett, Stanley and Dalton Dahley playing linebacker.
Rodney Wampler, a senior, gets the start at cornerback across the field from Turner. Shane Mullins, a junior, holds the inside track on the starting job at free safety.