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By CHUCK JONES
RADCLIFF – John Hardin senior Orlando Mouncil doesn’t have the ideal size to be a defensive back, but he’s proof that size isn’t everything.
Despite being only 5-foot-6 and 148 pounds, Mouncil, a two-year starter at cor-nerback, has blossomed into a shutdown defensive back for the Bulldogs.
“I just play my position,” Mouncil said. “I just try to play well and do what I’m supposed to do. I try to do my job.”
Mouncil is being modest. Sure, he does his job, but John Hardin coach Mark Brown raves about the job Mouncil does.
“Last year, we moved him to our strong-side or left-side where all the action is,” Brown said. “He does two things. You would think because of his size he’d have problems. But he plays big for his size. He’ll come up and hit you. And he’s a very good cover corner.”
At first glance, Mouncil’s lack of size might hinder him against tall receivers. But Mouncil has found ways to combat that problem.
“The thing about Orlando is he gets good position,” Brown said. “He knows how to use his body. He also doesn’t let them get what we call good separation. He stays right with them. He does everything you want a corner to do.”
Teams have even stopped challenging Mouncil this season. He still sees the occa-sion pass his way, but for the most part, teams have shied away from him.
“I was thinking why don’t teams throw it to my side,” Mouncil said. “I guess it’s a sign of respect. You have to have good technique and vision. I look for the pass first. My main thing is not to get beat deep.”
Last season, Mouncil was the team’s fourth leading rusher, but he has run the ball sparingly this year. Mouncil suffered two injuries during the preseason, hurting his ribs in the first scrimmage and his knee in the second, which prompted Brown to make a change.
“He’s too important to us defensively,” Mouncil said. “Both scrimmage games he got hurt. He’s a great halfback. He would start for us if we didn’t have so many backs, or for any team. But we don’t let him run it, because he too valuable to us defensively.”
Mouncil has handled playing strictly on defense like a coach would expect from a mature veteran.
“Some players might pout about it,” Brown said. “Running back is more of a glory position, but he doesn’t let it bother him. He has done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s team player.”
Although he realizes the Bulldogs have plenty of options at halfback, Mouncil misses getting a chance to run the ball from time to time.
“It is (disappointing), because I ran the ball so much last year,” Mouncil said. “But we have a lot of backs that run the ball better than I do. But yeah, I miss it sometimes.”
Mouncil’s primary focus, though, is on the defensive side of the ball. The Bull-dogs are giving up just 12.3 points and 206.3 yards a game heading into tonight’s Class 5-A, District 3 game against Louisville Iroquois at Bulldog Stadium.
Mouncil — who has recorded 12 tackles this season — is part of a secondary which is allowing teams only 86.8 yards through the air.
“We communicate and talk to each other,” Mouncil said. “We knew we could be good. We played in a lot of close games last year. I think that helped us.
“This defense is as good as last year,” he added. “The line is doing a good job and the linebackers have been playing well. Everyone’s been doing their jobs.”
That’s certainly the case as Mouncil and the Bulldogs are 6-0 for the second con-secutive season. Last year, the Bulldogs finished the regular season undefeated and ended up 12-1.
More important than undefeated seasons, to Mouncil, is making a deep playoff run this year. The Bulldogs have never made it past the third round.
“We want to go further in the playoffs,” Mouncil said. “We want to go to the state championship. We have to keep working hard. We have to get ready to play every game. We have a lot of talent, but we have to come ready to play every game. Eve-ryone has to keep doing their job.”
The Bulldogs can take their cue from Mouncil.
Chuck Jones can be reached at 505-1759