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Lineman makes the most of one prep season

08/23/2012, 1:00am PDT
By Steve Brand

As a 6-foot-3, 225-pound high school freshman, Sean Sullivan decided he wasn’t ready for the sport. Now 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, Sullivan can only imagine how it might have been if he had played four years instead of one.

As a 6-foot-3, 225-pound high school freshman, Sean Sullivan attended the first football practice of the season and then decided he wasn’t ready for the sport.

The next year he didn’t even give it a day, opting to focus on his studies.

As a junior, Sullivan cracked his fibula and being unable to walk, couldn’t do much but cheer.

Finally, the now 6-foot-5, 270-pound Sullivan saw everything come together for his senior season and one can only imagine how it might have been had he been healthy all four years.

“I regret it (not playing the first three seasons),” said Sullivan, who finally got a chance to show his immense talent last fall in leading the Mariners to an 11-2 record and a berth in the San Diego Section Division III semifinals.

“Because I didn’t play except for my senior season, I haven’t really received any college offers, so I’m going to play at least one year at Grossmont College.”

Grades certainly were no problem as he graduated with a cumulative 3.5 GPA, and even starring in a pair of All-Star victories weren’t enough because as he readily admits, “I wait until the last minute to do things.”

Like get on the field or check out colleges or take the SAT test, which he still hasn’t done but plans to soon.

If the score is anything like the way he played last year and this summer, Sullivan should be in big demand.

As a left tackle, Sullivan led a Mariners line in which he was one of the smallest players. The center was more than 300 pounds and both guards tipped the scales at 280. Perfect for a team that ran the ball almost every play—passing a total of 16 times all season.

Sullivan said all of the linemen would pull and block downfield but he especially liked going one-on-one with a linebacker or even defensive backs, accounting for an eye-popping 253 “pancake” blocks.

To earn a pancake, the blocker must flatten his opponent. Put him on his back. Most linemen would be thrilled with 50 in a season and 100 would be special. No one keeps such statistics, but 253 in 11 games (Sullivan missed one game with an injury and the Mariners won another by forfeit) is just plain gaudy.

What it means is if Sullivan thought one pancake block was good, why not just keep rolling upfield and maybe get a second or third on the same play? Remember, the Mariners ran the ball 474 times for 5,061 yards, giving him 474 chances for at least one flapjack.

Sullivan admits the Mariners’ system made it easy for him but he continued to excel in a pair of All-Stars games this summer, leading San Diego to a win over the Los Angeles City Section and the South to victory over the North in the Alex Spanos Classic.

“I’m lucky that the offensive line at Grossmont is mostly freshmen, so I’m fitting right in,” Sullivan said. “The All-Star players were a step up from high school and the college players are step up from that, so they’re throwing a lot of new things at me and I’m learning.

“They want me to be at 290 pounds so I’m lifting (he can bench press 355 pounds and his max is 650 in the squat) and trying to eat a lot.”

Since he won’t be 18 until October, he was reminded he could have played two more years of high school.

“That would be fun but I’m ready to move on,” he said with a chuckle, clearly relishing another stack of pancake blocks.

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