It seems no matter what endeavor Joe Mullinax pursues, the Stonewall Jackson senior offensive lineman ends up in a west side story of some kind.
In the spring, he sang and danced at the school in the musical of that name. This fall, Mullinax and his teammates are giving the west side of Prince William County something to sing and dance about in Virginia AAA football.
After 70 yards of penalties in the first half Friday, Mullinax and the Raiders buckled down to score four touchdowns in the second half of their 31-20 home win over Osbourn Park, sweeping the Yellow Jackets for the first time since 1996, the last year Stonewall (6-2, 3-1) made the playoffs.
The Raider defense intercepted three passes in the second half -- two by senior Deane Richardson -- and also recovered a fumble to all but nix any hopes Osbourn Park (2-6, 1-3) had of challenging for a third consecutive Cedar Run District title.
Mullinax reported late to the pre-game meal because of a singing commitment related to an all-county choir event taking place at Stonewall yesterday. And yes, he is well aware there are not too many 6-foot-2, 290-pound right tackles who have performed in productions of "West Side Story," as he did playing one of the Jets. Fittingly, he was Big Deal, although Mouth Piece also would have been a suitable character for a football player.
"I love football -- football will always be the love in my life -- but singing is a nice little side thing," said Mullinax, a tenor. "Offensive lineman singing and dancing. I know it's crazy."
"Everybody gets on him about it -- all the kids, all the coaches," said Stonewall Coach Loren Johnson, who attended the performance last spring and is more than happy to share Mullinax with choir director Wanda Boley. "And he's good for just letting it roll off his back. . . . That's what he likes to do. That's his deal. When he gets to [college], he'll be a thespian. And a football player. And I'll support him every way."
Stonewall opened the game with a drive of 9 minutes 49 seconds that resulted in just a field goal, but the Raiders established themselves by going for a first down on fourth-and-one at their 29. And by junior quarterback Ricky Milbourne connecting with senior Chris Lancaster on third-and-eight. And junior Domonique Vaughn picking up the necessary yardage on third-and-12.
But three penalties on that first possession and three on the second helped limit the Raiders to a three-point first half. Osbourn Park senior Phillip Purdy kicked 28- and 32-yard field goals in the final five minutes of the second quarter to give the Yellow Jackets a lead, but his first boot came after Osbourn Park had first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Lancaster blindsided Osbourn Park senior quarterback Alan Ferry on third down from the 4 to thwart the touchdown bid.
The Raiders took a 17-6 lead midway in the third quarter on two one-yard runs from Milbourne. The first drive was keyed by a broken play that Vaughn turned into a 16-yard run. Senior Chris Garrett (99 rushing yards) returned a punt 65 yards to set up the score that made it 17-6. Deane's first interception led to a third consecutive short-field score and his second pickoff came at the Osbourn Park eight and yielded yet another touchdown for a 31-6 lead.
"The only difference in the second half was less penalties," said Milbourne, whose team was shut out in the first half of last week's game against Woodbridge but rallied for 20 points in the fourth quarter to win. "We could punch it in because we weren't moving back."
"Our kids play aggressive, and I guess when linemen play aggressive they can get caught for holding calls," Johnson said. "Going down the stretch, we have to make sure we get those things eliminated."
Stonewall played without freshman Ryan Williams, its second-leading rusher, who rested a hip injury. Osbourn Park, which had won two straight, was without leading rusher Devin Thompson, who injured his shoulder last week.