Whale Branch running back Irvin Mulligan, who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards in his final five games alone, was selected as the Region 6-2A Player of the Year as six Warriors in all made the all-region team.
Mulligan, a sophomore who finished with 1,678 yards and 25 touchdowns, was joined on the all-region squad by two of his offensive linemen in center Donovan Whatley and tackle Cameron Wilson. Defensive linemen Chris Wilson and Camrin Miller and linebacker Kavaun Wright rounded out the list.
Mulligan is the second Whale Branch standout to be named the region’s top player, after Nyles Pinckney — now a Clemson freshman — achieved the distinction in 2013.
“I knew he was going to be a good running back last year, but he played behind two seniors,” Warriors coach Jerry Hatcher said. “He’s got that extra gear. He can take it to the house, which is something the others couldn’t do. He’s got flat-out football speed.”
Though Mulligan had four 100-yard outings in Whale Branch’s first six games, he really found his stride when the season resumed following Hurricane Matthew’s forced interruption.
After 95 yards and three TDs against Garrett Tech, Mulligan topped 200 yards in three of his next four outings — with the other one going for 182 yards.
“As he grew and became more confident with his linemen — and they became more comfortable with him — it kind of snowballed,” Hatcher said. “Those guys block harder when they know they’ve got someone that skilled behind them.”
A 222-yard, four-TD outing against Burke earned Mulligan recognition as MaxPreps’ Mid-Atlantic Player of the Week, but his best came in the Warriors’ opening playoff win over Mullins.
The Warriors held on for a 29-28 victory, as Mulligan erupted for 257 yards and all four TDs.
“We were having a hard time defensively,” Hatcher said. “But every time they scored, we’d answer. That was basically Irvin. Our chain crew was telling us they’d be yelling ‘Stop 34!’ We did throw one good pass, but Irvin was almost willing us to victory there.”
The Warriors’ season came to an end a week later against Carvers Bay, which held Mulligan to 103 yards. His final five games resulted in 985 yards, an average of 197.0 per outing.