New Town’s defense turns over No. 16 Eastern Tech for 2A North Region football  title (VIDEO HERE!)

by Nelson Coffin

Eastern Tech High’s usually buttoned-up football team fumbled five times and lost four of them in the Class 2A North Region title game Friday night at CCBC-Essex.

The Mavericks’ opponent, New Town, was happy to take advantage of the gaffes and punch its ticket to meet Glenelg in a state semifinal next week.

And let’s be sure to give some credit to the physical Titans’ defense for making life miserable for ET’s offense in New Town’s 15-8 triumph.

Led by senior tackle Jarren Driver, junior linebacker Gerrell Johnson and junior cornerback Darron Broach, the Titans (10-2 overall) allowed over 200 yards on the ground yet gave up only one chunk play — a 55-yard scamper by senior quarterback Mitch Shanklin that tied the game, 8-8, in the second quarter.

Shanklin gained 109 yards on just nine carries while senior fullback Samtim Okereke lugged the ball 14 times for 72 yards against the Titans’ bend-but-don’t-break unit that was still able to pitch a shutout in the second half.

“That’s the best defense we’ve played all season,” Eastern Tech coach Bill Brinegar said. “They’re really tough, but we shot ourselves in the foot a lot, and we really did it in some bad spots.”

The worst was a fumble that Driver pounced on at the Mavs’ 30-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Even though a sack by senior defensive tackle Will Huether and a penalty pushed New Town back to the 41, the Titans still cashed in when junior quarterback Shawn Miller, who had given his team an early lead with a 1-yard plunge in the opening period, tossed a perfect spiral to junior wideout Christopher Maddox for the go-ahead score.

Miller said that once he saw the Mavs’ defensive alignment, it was time to go for broke.

“I just told him to go get it,” Miller said.

“I give it to my coaches, man,” Maddox added. “We work hard every day, no matter the weather. We have pads all day, every day. I leave it on the field. We come prepared every day.”

The Mavericks (10-2) worked to get the equalizer, although their grinding running attack took a lot of time off the clock as they advanced from their own 33 to the Titans’ 45 where the drive stalled when Shanklin was ruled to be out of bounds while completing a pass to junior Omar Parker Jr. that would have been a first down.

Instead they punted and New Town never let them regain possession because Miller converted a pair of third-down passes to move the chains and end Eastern Tech’s season with a 10-2 mark.

“We really kind of surprised ourselves with how well we played this season,” Brinegar said.

Shanklin was one of the main reason why that happened.

“He was the key to what we do,” Brinegar said. “He’s a tremendous worker and he does a lot of ‘street’ football — making things up as he went along. Once that quarterback in him started to emerge in the second half of the season, we were pretty good.”

New Town coach Mike Savage said his team’s tough-mindedness played a huge role in Friday’s victory and in a stellar 9-2 campaign.

“They never quit,” he said. “They’re tough, a little undersized, but they are scrappy.”

Video above: Junior quarterback Shawn Miller, right, tossed a 41-yard TD pass to junior wideout Christopher Miller early in the final period to lead New Town past Eastern Tech, 15-8, in the Class 2A North Region championship game Friday night.

NT 8 0 0 7 — 15
ET 0 8 0 0 — 8

1st quarter
NT-Shawn Miller 1 run (Darius Broach run)

2nd quarter
ET-Mitch Shanklin 55 run (Immanuel Massally run)

4th quarter
NT-Christoper Maddox 41 pass from Shawn Miller (N/A kick)