Tyree Kinard is hardly the biggest player on the Mauldin High defense.
But he stood tall against Wade Hampton, coming off the sideline to make key plays. Then No. 20 headed back to the sideline to cheer on his teammates in their first Region 2-AAAA football game of 2013.
After giving up 23 points in the first half, Mauldin (4-1, 1-0) held the Generals scoreless in the second.
“Look at him right there. He’s a hard-nosed player — a little Mighty Mite, very quick, a very hard hitter,” Mauldin coach Lee Taylor said after the game as Kinard and the Mavs celebrated the 48-23 victory Sept. 27 on the Generals’ home field.
“He gets a lot of playing time. But we didn’t know with them running the ball if he’d be able to step up because of his size. When we put him in, he made all the difference in the world and pumped the defense up.”
Adjustments by the coaches, trying to cope with Wade Hampton’s Wing-T offense, worked.
Also, a successful onside kick by the Generals to open the third period gave them a shot at regaining the momentum and overcoming their five-point deficit.
They drove to the Mauldin 18-yard line. But sacks by Charles Freeman and Kinard led to fourth-and-19 at the Mauldin 32. The Generals turned the ball over on downs, and Mauldin scored the first of its three second-half touchdowns.
Overall, the Mavs held Wade Hampton to 316 total yards (13 passing), and Mauldin’s Ozell Lloyd recovered a Wade Hampton fumble.
“We got them into some second-and-long, third-and-long situations that took them out of their element a little bit, and they had to throw the ball to go to the spread,” Taylor said when asked about the adjustments on defense.
Taylor said he’s proud of his defenders’ progress this season as the Mavs prepare for their Oct. 4 home game against region foe Dorman (4-2, 1-1).
“We’ve had some injuries,” Taylor said. “We’ve had some people who are no longer with us on defense. But this defense plays hard. I’ve told them that if you play hard and give effort, a lot of times when you make a mistake, you can make up for it by playing hard.”