By Joseph Hayes
It was a special day with plenty of special moments.
Ryan Mullins has been here before.
For the Port Huron High School football coach, it was yet another special time to celebrate and enjoy the accomplishments of his players on Wednesday; as four more athletes moved on up to the college ranks.
Advertisements - Click the Speaker Icon for Audio
On Wednesday at the Performing Arts Center at Port Huron High School, Mullins congratulated four of his athletes for their contributions to the program as they signed their letter of intents to play collegiately.
That included offensive lineman Mathew Phillips and wide receiver/defensive back Dawson Leffler, who are each headed to Division 2 Northwood University; and also defensive lineman Blake Bland and wide receiver Brandon Westrick, who are both destined for Itasca Junior College, in Minnesota.
“It’s just fun to see kids that want to continue playing football,” Mullins said. “Who have done their job as an athlete and as a student athlete to have this opportunity. Because it’s a full time duty as a student athlete to have this opportunity on the college level.”
Mullins said he enjoyed watching his team have so much success this year and go on a playoff run that even included a victory over Port Huron Northern at Memorial Stadium.
Now, two of his top players will have a chance to compete in one of the best divisions in all of Division 2, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athlete Conference.
“It’s a lot of good local talent,” Mullins said. “I take a lot of pride in the GLIAC, because I played in it and nationally they are considered a top Division 2 conference. It’s a great conference. It’s competitive from week to week. It’s a great opportunity to play in it.
“For our younger guys coming up, it’s a chance for them to see how our upperclassmen took advantage of their opportunity. If you are really committed to doing it, you can play. There is a spot for you somewhere.”
Meanwhile, Phillips and Leffler said they look forward to getting on campus at Northwood and becoming roommates and getting to work on the next level.
“The whole season really stuck out to me, not just one game,” Leffler said. “Just the amount of second chances we had playing Northern and Lakeview in the playoffs.
“It’s a long time since that’s happened and we have gone on a run like that.”
Phillips meanwhile said he was steadily encouraged by the bonds he built with his teammates.
“The brotherhood we built with all of these guys was special,” Phillips said. “How we stuck together is what I’ll remember the most. That close family we had all season long felt good.”