The number of varsity football players at Mauldin High is down from recent years. Mavericks coach Doug Shaw said he and his staff will have to find ways to work around it.
“We are trying to find the guys to go in the right places and all that,” Shaw said. “That is why you practice. There are so many of them that are new. We had to go back to the basics and make sure everybody knows everything.”
There are 55 players on the varsity team at Mauldin, compared with 65 last year. There are only 12 seniors.
Mauldin competes in Region 2-AAAA, arguably the strongest region in the state, with two-time defending Class AAAA Division I state champion Byrnes, Dorman, Gaffney, Wade Hampton, Riverside, Boiling Springs and Spartanburg.
“Byrnes, Dorman, Boiling Springs and Gaffney were the top four teams from the semifinals of the state playoffs last season,” Shaw said.
Shaw isn’t complaining. He looks at it as a way to make the Mavericks a better team.
“It is back to the old Region 2 that we had when I first came to Mauldin,” Shaw said. “I have no problem with it whatsoever. If you are trying to improve and be a better football program, you have to play people that are going to make you better.”
In the nonregion part of the schedule, Mauldin will open with archrival Hillcrest on Aug. 24 and play J.L. Mann, Woodmont and T.L. Hanna.
Mauldin finished last season 6-6 and made the playoffs. Shaw said he only has three returning starters on offense and six on defense.
“I have not made a definite starting lineup, but I have some people who are likely to be starters. At some positions, I have several kids competing for a spot,” Shaw said.
Returning at quarterback will be Dre Massey. Roy Nash and Brandon Clarke are competing for the running back position.
Likely starting receivers are Taz Richardson, C.J. Thomas, Jeremy McLaughlin and Tyler Brown.
The offensive linemen are Chris Sullivan, Bobby Olvera, David McDaris, Zach Starnes and Zack McGill.
On defense, the ends will be Jarvis Magwood and Blake Nicholson. The interior line will be Tyler Reimer, Charles Freeman and Daveion Jackson.
“We have five guys at the linebacker position and we only play two. They have a good competition there,” Shaw said. “If all five of those linebackers need to be on the field, we need to find a place to put them where they can play.”
Those candidates are Beau Craft, Kendall Witt, Nafis Holt, Tony Wideman and Sean Douglas.
Bryant Briggs and Ozell Lloyd are the cornerbacks. The safeties are Akeem Parker, Demetre Davis and Latrevis Byrd.
Mauldin soccer standout Chris Weeks will handle the kicking duties.
“He has a strong leg and he is only a junior,” Shaw said. “He can kick for a couple of years for us. That is such an important part of the game.”
With fewer players, Shaw said he will have to play some on offense, defense and special teams.
“This year’s team will be rather small,” Shaw said. “There will be some guys that won’t come off the field very often. We have to get the people on the field that can get the job done.”