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SEASON RECAP: Mundy’s Mill football

Greg Manior is the first Mundy’s Mill coach to win a playoff game for the school. The Tigers were 8-4 this season after losing to defending state champion Gainesville last week. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Greg Manior is the first Mundy’s Mill coach to win a playoff game for the school. The Tigers were 8-4 this season after losing to defending state champion Gainesville last week. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

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Junior quarterback Rodricous Gates passed for 1,398 yards and 16 touchdowns in leading Mundy’s Mill to the Class AAAAA quarterfinals. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

The season

In a word: Historic. Mundy’s Mill made only the third state playoff appearance in school history, which included hosting its first-ever playoff game. A win over Houston County in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs at Tara Stadium was the first playoff win in school history. The Tigers started the season 0-4 against what the Maxwell Computer Rankings considered the toughtest schedule in Class AAAAA, with games against Coffee, Whitewater, and McIntosh. Mundy’s Mill would win six straight games and clinch the second seed from Region 4-AAAAA as the Div. A champion. The Tigers’ season ended with a 42-28 loss at third-ranked and defending champion Gainesville last week.

What went right

The question mark for Mundy’s Mill entering the season was how well standout running back Rodney Smith would recover from offseason knee injury. After rushing for 1,575 yards a year ago in nine games, Smith spent the offseason rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee. He responded by rushing for 2,201 yards and 26 touchdowns in route to leading an offense that averaged 349 yards per game. Smith wasn’t the only offensive standout for Mundy’s Mill, which got a big year from senior wide receiver Eric Tate and quarterback Rodricous Gates had a solid second year as a starter. The team went through spring and most of summer without Smith getting significant reps. Defensively, the Tigers played well in limiting teams from generating long scoring drives.

What needs to improve

If the Tigers are going to stay among the top teams in Class AAAAA next season, they have to win some of those non-region games. Mundy’s Mill is still looking to bridge the gap between itself and rival Lovejoy, an elite Class AAAAAA program. Winning some of those close non-region games will solidify the Tigers as a contender on a state-wide level. Despite some tweaks in the program, the Tigers made a playoff run that can serve as a foundation for the upcoming season. This season, the Mundy’s Mill program holds the distinction of going the farthest of any team in the county in the postseason.

Chances for next season

There will be some holes to fill, but this year’s senior class left a legacy for the upcoming classes to try and duplicate. Reaching the quarterfinals round was a big accomplishment for a senior class that had never participated in the playoffs before. Replacing Smith will be the biggest, and most challenging task, for the Tigers in the offseason. The Div. I prospect amassed 3,776 yards over the last two seasons. The biggest known commodity returning is Gates. The quarterback will be counted on to shoulder a large part of the offense next season. Gates will lose his key receiver Eric Tate, who is also graduating. How much Gates grows and matures in the offseason will play a big part in Mundy’s Mill continuing its success. Replacing kicker Loic Chimi will also be a challenge.