Rylan Molihan Wellston
Rylan Molihan fields a punt in his Golden Rockets game against the Buckeyes. Photo: Ethan Sands

Player of the Year Film Watch: Rylan Molihan

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The Wellston Golden Rockets finished the regular season 7-3 and found themselves in the playoffs for the first time since 2006. They ran into a 10-1 Ironton Fighting Tigers squad that knocked them out in the first round, but it was an incredible improvement from a team that had been mired in mediocrity for quite some time before this season.

A big reason for the improvement Wellston witnessed was the Golden Rockets’ senior tailback, and Gridiron Glory Player of the Year candidate, Rylan Molihan. A do-it-all back with touchdowns as a runner, receiver, and passer(!), Molihan was the Golden Rockets’ fuel, and the first thing on their opponents’ scouting reports. Let’s take a look at how he compiled his impressive stat line.

  • 160 Carries, 1,160 rushing yards, 11 rushing TDs, 10 receptions, 101 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD, 1 passing TD, 5 interceptions (defensive)


The Hammer, not The Nail

There’s a saying popular amongst football coaches; when it comes to tackling, somebody’s the hammer, and somebody’s the nail. When Molihan collides with a defender, he’s usually the former. He consistently falls forward, gaining the extra yard that lesser backs couldn’t. This clip against the River Valley Raiders showcases that ability.

Even when there are multiple defenders zeroing in on Molihan, he can still put out the extra effort to deliver the blow instead of taking it. Watch this impressive run against the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes; Molihan falls forward despite there being four defenders combining on the tackle.

In a game of inches, this type of grit is a powerful trait.


Be Quick, but Don’t Hurry

When it comes to running in-between the tackles, Molihan takes a page out of John Wooden’s book. There’s an inherent patience in his running, as he knows just the right moment to explode out from behind his linemen. In this clip against the Buckeyes, watch Molihan’s pacing. He takes the ball through the hole that the play opened up, but he’s not going quite full speed yet. Once he’s at the second level of the defense, he explodes off his left foot after a slight hesitation to make the defender in front of him waver.

That sort of run is the result of not just superior athletic ability, but a superior mindset.



When it comes time to take the ball outside the tackles, though, Molihan can burn. The best backs are just as proficient running East-West as they are North-South. In this clip against the D-III Jackson Ironmen (who went undefeated this past season), Wellston has their backs against their own end zone, and they go to Molihan on a sweep. He uses his speed and gives his team some breathing room. Not a huge gain, but he did what he was called upon to do.

In this clip against River Valley, watch the angles he takes on the outside run to set up his teammates’ blocks. That quick-processing ability is something that many backs never master.


You Better Wrap-up

Molihan eviscerates arm tackles with regularity. His ability to make the first man miss has saved more than a few Golden Rockets drives, and has left opposing defensive coaches frustrated. This play against the Buckeyes showcases Molihan’s ability to keep his feet moving through arm tackles, barely even registering the defenders existence to the observing eye.

This clip from that same game showcases a little bit of everything that’s been discussed so far. Maybe the play was a designed counter, but regardless, Molihan thought on his feet and bounced the play to the outside, used his speed to get the edge, and stiff-armed the first defender who tried to tackle him for good measure.

If defenders lose sight of their tackling form, Molihan is sure to make them pay. It’s that quality that turns a 3-yard run into a 30-yard run.


Two-way Playmaker

As if Molihan wasn’t enough of a problem on the offensive side of the ball, he is also a bonafide ball-hawk on defense. I couldn’t wrap up this film session without including this inhuman interception Molihan came up with, one of his five passes picked off during the season.

Gridiron Glory’s Player of the Year race has officially kicked off, and we need your votes to decide who will take home the trophy! Voting is open now- https://bit.ly/2JWOpzM