Reporter: Should we believe the hype?
Boobie Miles: What hype?
Reporter: The hype about Boobie Miles.
Boobie Miles: Now hype is something that’s not for real. I’m all real.
The above is a famous Friday Night Lights line that, through two games, encapsulates the 2016 Mullen football team.
Because hype is something there’s been plenty of early on here this fall, and though the Mustangs were ranked third in the preseason 5A poll, my pulse check on the landscape concluded other teams in the top ten were getting a lot more lip service than Mullen.
It seemed everyone was quick to rattle off the prowess of VCHS quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, or Pomona’s dual-threat backfield of Cameron Gonzales and Max Borghi, or dynamic offensive playmakers like Grandview’s Hayden Blubaugh and Columbine’s Mikey Griebel—all of whom are great players and teams in their own right…. but it just felt like the depth and experience of Mullen was slept on a little bit.
Then again, the Boobie Miles quote resonates with this team because they do have a bonafide, headline-grabbing star in running back Marcus McElory, who like Boobie Miles, Blubaugh and Griebel can turn the tide of a game on any given carry. He has, for the last three-plus falls in which he’s racked up over 3,000 yards and 42 scores on the ground, been the subject of plenty of well-deserved hype.
But what makes the hype with this team truly genuine—for the Mustangs, the hype is something that’s not for real, because that’s how really real they really are—is the depth of playmakers on this team. In a lot of ways, McElroy’s just the distraction. He’s the decoy. He’s the guy you think you’ve got to worry about most until suddenly, you’re top-ranked Valor Christian and you find yourselves down 25-3 after one quarter to Mullen in Week One.
The Mustangs went on to win that game 41-10, a victory that put the state on notice that this team should be considered a favorite to capture the program’s eighth title this year. And while Mullen did suffer a heart-wrenching 28-21 setback to new No. 1 Pomona in Week One, that game, in my critical eye, will most likely be replayed in the 5A state title on Dec. 3.
But if Mullen is “all real” as I am proclaiming, the Mustangs sure have a couple more opportunities to soon prove me right, or prove me wrong, about how truly masterful this team is. The Mustangs host No. 4 Regis Jesuit this Friday—a Raiders team that just slayed Cherry Creek 19-7—with more gut-checks looming on Sept. 23 (at Orange Lutheran), Oct. 13 (versus No. 5 Columbine), Oct. 21 (at No. 10 Fairview) and Oct. 28 (versus ThunderRidge).
Players who must guide the Mustangs to the continued fulfillment of the hype include junior wideout A’Jon Vivens, who had three TD grabs against Valor Christian; sophomore quarterback Dominic Depizzol, whose 122.7 QBR is indicative of the young gunslinger’s poise on the varsity stage; senior back Shamond Hamilton, who leads Mullen with 258 yards on the ground this fall; and senior linebacker Isiahia Banks, senior linebacker Tyler Campbell and senior safety Christian Cumber, the backbone of the Mustangs’ defense.
Right now, the Mustangs are riding high. They are Boobie Miles at that preseason practice, proclaiming, with the hammering of Valor Christian, that they are “all real”. But don’t count on Mullen to be beset by a Boobie Miles-like arrogance; they play with too much of a chip on their shoulder for that. They remember last fall, when they finished fourth in the Jeffco League and were sent packing in the second round of the playoffs by Cherry Creek. They understand that hype is only hype, and they’ll let their pads do the talking on Friday night.