Mitch Shanklin spent his junior year helping Eastern Tech's soccer team win a Class 2A state title. Now, as a rookie quarterback for the Mavericks' football team, he's learning on the go, using his athletic prowess to manage the offense and make the occasional big play.
In Friday night's Ravens RISE High School football showdown at CCBC-Essex, the senior did both, leading Eastern Tech to a 13-7 win over visiting New Town to stay unbeaten.
On a night when the Mavericks managed just 184 yards of total offense, his 35-yard pass to Jaylin Scott after being forced to reverse field on a scramble set up the go-ahead touchdown early in the third quarter. His 24-yard scramble off a naked bootleg late in the fourth then helped seal the win.
“Sometimes, the best plays are just the ones he makes up. Good players make plays," Eastern Tech coach Bill Brinegar said. "Sometimes you just get good guys who make good reads, and sometimes it makes the coaches look really good.”
Shanklin finished with 69 yards rushing and 43 passing, as Eastern Tech improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2015.
The Mavericks defense has a lot to do with that, allowing just 27 points through the team's first four games.
“Our defense really kept us in the ballgame," Brinegar said. "We tightened down in the second half and just made some little adjustments in terms of where some guys were lined up. I tried to put the guys in a position to make plays, and that's what the defensive guys did.”
New Town (2-2), which has scored just one offensive touchdown in its past two games, got 90 yards on 21 carries from senior Antoine Collins, who scored the Titans' lone touchdown in the second quarter.
“I think we could have done better offensively. Maybe we got a little relaxed," said New Town coach Mike Savage, whose team featured just four senior starters. "Ninety percent of the offense and defense comes back. Every game is a learning experience for these guys. Trying to get them to hustle every play and not take plays off. They're coming along.”
Eastern Tech took control early, quickly moving into New Town territory when Jaylin Scott took the opening kickoff back 56 yards. Five plays later, the Mavericks broke on top when fullback Samtim Okereke scored from the 8.
The Titans, however, got back into it by controlling play on the offensive line and using their advantage in speed to gain large chunks on the ground.
After coming up empty on their opening drive when Eastern Tech's Omar Parker Jr. intercepted a pass off the hands of receiver Tiyon Sutton at the Mavericks' 25, the Titans again drove deep into Tech territory. This time, after deciding to settle for a 34-yard field goal, they got a break when the officials called Eastern Tech for a personal foul for roughing the snapper.
Two plays later, Collins burst through the left side for a 6-yard score tying the game at 7.
Eastern Tech could do little offensively for the remainder of the half, going into halftime with just 68 total yards.
The second half, however, was a different story.
After quickly stopping New Town on its opening drive, the Mavericks got a big break when Shanklin began to sweep to his right, was cut off, reversed field and found Scott wide open for a 35-yard gain. It was the defining moment of a 13-play, 37-yard drive, capped by Immanuel Massally's 2-yard burst on a quick pitch to the left that give Eastern Tech a 13-7 lead with 2:15 left in the third.
The Mavericks' gained 116 of their 184 yards after halftime, primarily on the ground.
“We just talked to the O line and told them to hit the middle, and that's what we did – pound the rock," Shanklin said. "That's the kind of football team we are.”
New Town 0 7 0 0 - 7
Eastern Tech 7 0 6 0 - 13
ET-Okereke 8 run (Shanklin kick)
NT-Collins 6 run (Maddox kick)
ET-Massally 2 run (pass failed)