2017-07-14 / Sports

Blue Devils taking a different approach to 2017

By Josh Cruse

Jay Washingon returns for his senior season. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons. Jay Washingon returns for his senior season. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons. Overview: The 2016 season was very similar to seasons past under coach Treigh Sullivan. It started off with a bang, four straight wins, then a 2-4 finish. Untimely injuries, doomed what was potentially a breakout season for Dreher. Instead, the Blue Devils fielded a six-win team and faced a difficult first round opponent on the road.

Sullivan has brought stability to Dreher, posting anywhere from five to seven wins in each of his four seasons at the helm.

Offensively, the Blue Devils were fairly balanced between the running and passing games. Scoring wise, Dreher only had one game during the regular season in which it failed to score 20 or more points.

The defense was the weak link for the Blue Devils in 2016. Dreher gave up 56 total yards and 11 points more per game than in 2015.

Tre’von Dreher will be one of the receivers looked upon to fill the shoes of Tyran Rush and Anthony Salters. Tre’von Dreher will be one of the receivers looked upon to fill the shoes of Tyran Rush and Anthony Salters. Quarterback: Hunter Mullinax, James Beck, Ryan Campbell

It appears Hunter Mullinax will be the one to replace Matthew Campbell as Dreher’s primary signal caller. However, don’t sleep on either James Beck or Ryan Campbell as each will see playing time.

Mullinax gained valuable experience, playing virtually the entire game in the Blue Devils’ playoff loss to North Myrtle Beach.

Beck is more of a dual threat quarterback, while Campbell is better in passing situations.

Sullivan says he did not develop his quarterbacks enough in the past and will work to improve that in the upcoming season.

Running back: Jay Washington, Da Da Washington, Tony Gunter, Jermel Sims

Jay Washington returns after sustaining an injury late in the 2016 season. He has been cleared to play and looks to add a third 1,000 yard rushing season to his resume.

Treigh Sullivan enters his fifth year as Dreher head coach. Treigh Sullivan enters his fifth year as Dreher head coach. He won’t have to tote the ball alone, as his younger brother Da Da Washington, and Tony Gunter and Jermel Sims all provide quality depth. Da Da has the ability to get the tough yards inside, while Gunter is more of a perimeter runner. Sims is another big back.

Wide Receiver: Tre’von Dreher, Trenton Clarke,

Matthew Kelley, Louis Parr (TE), Devin Benac (TE)

Sullivan feels good about this unit. It starts with receivers Tre’von Dreher, Trenton Clarke, and Matthew Kelley.

Some of the running backs will flex out to provide receiving options, as will some of the defensive players.

Sullivan has big expectations for Louis Parr. The 6’-3”, 210 lb tight end started every game for Dreher in 2016. Devin Benac adds depth to the position.

Only a matter of weeks before Dreher once again takes the field. Only a matter of weeks before Dreher once again takes the field. Offensive Line: Eric Ferguson, Xavier Wade, Jaylon Pearson, Brandt Scott Van- Dyke, Ashley Brown, Jenard Conway

Sullivan said he will play the best five linemen. In the spring that consisted of Eric Ferguson, a four-year player, at center; Jaylon Pearson and Xavier Wade at guard; and Brandt Scott Van-Dyke and Ashley Brown at tackle. Wade may also be an option at center. Jenard Conway is a two-year starter who flipped to the defense this year but may still see time along the offensive line.

Defensive Line: Travis Ellis, Jordan Huston, Jenard Conway, Aaron Morris, Jermel Sims

Travis Ellis and Aaron Morris will make up the inside of the Dreher defensive line in 2017. Jordan Houston has a ton of upside and will man one of the defensive end spots. Jermel Sims and Jenard Conway are also options along the defensive line.

Dreher’s Max Ward Dreher’s Max Ward Linebacker: Jay Washington, Sterling Harris, James Beck, Devin Benac, Justin Dingle

Sterling Harris, a two-year starter, and Jay Washington look to have locked down two starting linebacker spots. James Beck, Devin Benac, and Justin Dingle are also options. Personnel packages will depend on situations, according to Sullivan.

Secondary: Kyrell Michael, Max Ward, Eli Robinson, Rashad Brown

Kyrell Michael and Max Ward will man the safety positions. Ward has two years of starting experience.

Eli Robinson and Rashad Brown will be the starting cornerbacks.

Kicker/Punter : Pierce Myrick, Ryan Campbell, James Beck, Devin Benac

Pierce Myrick is getting the first crack at the PAT and kickoff duties for Dreher. Ryan Campbell and James Beck are in the running for the punting job, while Devin Benac is also an option.

Final Analysis: After seeing his program around the six win mark the last four years, Sullivan has decided to change his approach. In an effort to build experience and depth, Sullivan has cross-trained players at a variety of positions.

Sullivan also has to build a cohesive offensive unit after replacing Matthew Campbell, Tyran Rush, and Anthony Salters who were part of an offense that amassed 372.3 yards and 30.3 points per game. Hunter Mullinax has experience; expect him to rely on the running game a good bit early on, especially with the return of Jay Washington.

Sullivan has brought on a new defensive coordinator and new ideas. So far, he is pleased with how the defense is coming together. Jay Washington and Sterling Harris are among the returning starters. Improvement is imperative for the Blue Devils to add to their win total from a year ago, as they gave up 372.5 yards and 30.1 points per game in 2016.

The Blue Devils faced a challenging schedule in 2016. Gilbert had its best season in over 20 years, Chapin made it to the 4A semifinals, and A.C. Flora defeated a tough Myrtle Beach team in the first round.

As Dreher looks for room to improve its record, it has to look squarely at its achilles heel the last four years, the Chapin Eagles and A.C. Flora Falcons.

Against region opponents under Sullivan, the Blue Devils are 8-11, but only 1-7 against the Eagles and Falcons.

Dreher has outscored region opponents not named Chapin or A.C. Flora 29.1 to 26.9. Against the Falcons and Eagles, the Blue Devils gave up around ten points more while scoring more than a touchdown less.

Dreher faces A.C. Flora at Memorial Stadium, which is really a home game for both teams and will travel to Chapin. A win against either or both of those opponents could hold the potential for an improved season for Dreher.

Key Blue Devils

1. Jay Washington- Washington’s performance on the field could have a major impact on both the offense and defense. Washington provides a solid option in the running game after finishing with over 1,000 yards rushing each of the last two years. He is also a valuable prospect as a linebacker. His impact, both on the field and from a leadership standpoint, could be pivotal to the defense’s improvement.

2. Hunter Mullinax- Despite having played in nearly the entire playoff game against North Myrtle Beach, Mullinax still enters the 2017 season with limited overall experience. While having a dependable running game, at some point Mullinax will have to prove he can make the correct decisions and make big time throws for Dreher to compete on the field.

3. The medical staff- While the performance on the field is vitally important, the trainers for Dreher have played as big a role for the Blue Devils in recent years as any player. Last year, Jay Washington and Matthew Campbell went down late in the year leaving Dreher with little to compete on the field. While the trainers do fantastic work, not seeing them on the field this season might be a welcomed sight for Blue Devil players, coaches, and fans.

2016 Results

Columbia 40-6 W
Gray Collegiate 38-14 W
River Bluff 27-23 W
Calhoun County 42-28 W
Gilbert 27-56 L
Chapin 20-48 L
Aiken 38-22 W
A.C. Flora 14-28 L
Lower Richland 42-32 W
Orangeburg-Wilkinson 31-34 L

North Myrtle Beach 14-40 L

2017 Schedule

Aug. 25 at Columbia
Sept. 1 vs. Gray Collegiate
Sept. 8 at River Bluff
Sept. 15 vs. Calhoun
Sept. 22 vs. Gilbert
Sept. 29 at Chapin
October 6 vs. Lower
Oct. 13 at Orangeburg
Oct. 20 at Aiken
Oct. 27 vs. A.C. Flora

Head Coach:
Treigh Sullivan
(5th season)
Overall record: 24-19

2016 record: 6-5
2016 playoffs: lost to
North Myrtle Beach 40-
14 in the first round of
the 4A playoffs.

5-year win trend
2012: 7
2013: 6
2014: 7
2015: 5
2016: 6

2016 Regular
Season Stats

Rushing offense 198.1
Passing Offense 174.2
Total Offense 372.3
Total Defense 372.5

2016 Stat leaders
Passing: Matthew
Campbell, 1,647 yards
Rushing: Jay
Washington, 1,141 yards
Receiving: Tyran Rush,
590 yards
Tackles: Theo Goodwin,

Points per game:
Dreher: 30. 3
Opponents: 30.1

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