There is an aura of positivity surrounding the Mullan-St. Regis football program right now as both communities are already anticipating the beginning of the 2019 season.
Although still months away, and most of the players embroiled in the throes of the long basketball season, the dual-Tiger football team recently completed one of the most successful albeit unusual seasons in either school’s history.
Finishing the season with a 4-3 record and coming within a game of the State Playoffs and they definitely had their chances.
But coach Stetson Spooner has already moved past 2018 and is fully focused on 2019’s campaign.
“This season was a step in the right direction for both the Mullan and St. Regis communities,” Spooner said. “The goal remains the same for us heading into next season and that is playoff berth. With the guys we have coming back we think and believe that it’s a very strong possibility.”
Those ‘guys’ Spooner mentioned may be the deepest roster Mullan has had since the mid 2000s when Jesse James and Cory Pehan ran roughshod over the North Star League.
Now, that league doesn’t even technically exist in football as the White Star League has since seen a melding of the smaller schools from Districts 1 and 2.
With the league change came a changing of the guard and now the Tigers are being led by 2017 All-State player Skye Gallaway and 2018 All-State player Ian Farris (both seniors, Farris from St. Regis).
Gallaway wasn’t himself for most of his junior year as injuries hampered what could have been an even greater success.
Farris was absolutely the definition of lockdown and could have more than just the eyes of casual fans on him next year.
The cornerback only allowed two catches for a total of 14 yards and ZERO touchdowns and finished the season with 42 solo tackles.
He also had nine interceptions in seven games.
As Gallaway sat on the sidelines during several offensive sets, Farris set the world ablaze from the halfback position scoring 10 touchdowns on 37 total carries while also picking up over 400 yards.
He is a backup at the halfback spot …
Oh yeah, He also had five return touchdowns on special teams.
Ladies and gentlemen welcome to Farris Island, he is that good.
“Farris who was seemingly an iron man never being injured or even tired for that matter,” Spooner said. “Ian has been the only defender I've seen in 8-man, on our sized field that consistently shut down half of the field by himself in both pass coverage and against the run.”
While it becomes easy to gush over Farris and what he brings to the table, it’s easy to forget about the rest of the Tigers, but Spooner is a generous gusher when it comes to his squad.
Gallaway in particular shined bright in his position change while nursing an ankle injury that reduced his torrid speed.
“Skye had an ankle injury that kept him relatively quiet on offense, but he took a very unselfish role while injured stepping away from offense until being 100 percent healthy by moving to the defensive line and becoming pretty dominant there,” Spooner said. “Offensively Skye's production fell significantly from his all-state sophomore year due mainly to his injury. He had six touchdowns in the first two games before the injury, but also his production dipped a bit due to other athletes staying healthy and stepping up and being extremely productive themselves which is a great problem to have as a coaching staff.”
Those aforementioned touchdowns aside, Gallaway tallied 45 tackles, six sacks and a interception for a touchdown on defensive.
Ankle injury be damned, he was still the big play guy for the Tigers with four rushing scores, five receiving touchdowns, and one return to the house.
Those numbers may seem paltry to the naked eye, but Gallaway had five receiving touchdowns on EIGHT catches (yes, you read that right), and averaged 46 yards-per-catch.
“If Skye and Ian can stay healthy their impact could be beyond destructive for other teams,” Spooner fawned.
Mullan will also be returning two White Star All League freshman in Luke Trogden and Adam Ball.
Trogden was thrown into the quarterback position after never playing the position before and after two games was seemingly dominant at the position.
“Luke is a freak build for a freshman and really showed that while running the ball tallying up 588 rushing yards and eight scores,” Spooner said. Meanwhile he developed a great feel for the pass game tossing over 800 yards and 13 passing TDs.”
Trogden completed over 50 percent of his throws and only had six interceptions on the season.
Trogden also floated to the other side of the ball and the team leader in sacks with 12 for the year.
Adam Ball (another St. Regis stud) was Mullan’s tackling machine, emphasis on the machine part.
“I have never seen an athlete with that work ethic,” Spooner said. “This kid only knows 100 mile per hour and 100 percent effort. Dude is an extremely coachable and an extremely explosive athlete.”
Ball was the gawdy stat stuffer like his compatriots although five (two rushing and three receiving) touchdowns is five more than a lot of football players ever get.
Where Ball was scary was at middle linebacker, where he finished with 63 tackles for the season (9 per game).
Again, this boy is a freshman!
“Defensively, Adam was of equal importance to Ian Farris and dominated his position,” Spooner said. “Adam had 63 tackles, leading our team by nearly 20 tackles and forced five fumbles with a handful of tackles for loss and sacks. Sideline to sideline Adam was everywhere and ball carriers knew he was there because Adam isn’t an arm tackler, he lays the wood every hit.”
Also returning will be Riley Trogden, who basically is a plug and play player at any position, but did most of his damage at the tight end and safety positions, he will be joined by Adam Ball’s younger brother (incoming freshman) Caleb Ball as the players who Mullan will need to see take big steps to get the Tigers to the playoffs.
“Riley is our hidden gem and is an all league caliber player without question and did an amazing job at the tight end and safety positions,” Spooner said. “Caleb will be a vital part of our team as well. Athletically this kid has it all: Incredible awareness and terrific ball skills. He will replace senior Chandler Holling on defense which when healthy Chandler’s shoes will be big to fill at first but we have faith in Caleb’s ability.”
Spooner and company could be in for an explosive year if everything comes together as hoped for.
And these Tigers are going to be good.