The East Mecklenburg football team doesn’t always play a pretty brand of football.
But the results were beautiful Friday night for Eagles coach Barry Shuford and his team as they closed out regular-season play with a 24-0 road win over Myers Park.
With the victory, East Meck (6-5, 4-2) finishes third in the Southwestern 4A behind champion Butler and No. 2 seed Independence and will find out their playoff fate, along with Myers Park (6-5, 3-3), on Saturday.
The Eagles used a grinding offense that churned out 215 yards on the ground, led by sophomore running back Khamal Howard, who rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
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But it was East Mecklenburg’s defense that starred from the beginning, forcing three turnovers and holding Myers Park to 108 yards of total offense, including only 20 yards rushing.
The Eagles started from their first play of the game, when sophomore Trey Hodge recovered a Myers Park fumble on the opening kickoff return.
Six plays later, East Meck junior Aaron Walker slashed in for a 3-yard touchdown run.
Then, on the very next Myers Park drive, just four players later, East Meck junior linebacker scooped up a B.J. Caldwell fumble and rumbled 30 yards for a touchdown and 14-0 lead 4 minutes, 38 seconds into the game.
The Eagles’ defense never let the Mustangs get anything going, as Hodge also had an interception and East Meck stopped Myers Park four different times on fourth downs.
Myers Park was led by junior quarterback Jack Davidson, who went 10 for 23 passing for 88 yards.
Quote: “I think we’re about a year ahead of where I thought we’d be at this point, which is a great feeling. We talk about taking steps all of the time. Tonight, we took another big step forward. It’s not always pretty football, but it was a little more attractive tonight (referring to passing the ball seven times). I’ll take four yards in a cloud of dust that turns into 12 yards later in the game any time. –Barry Shuford, East Mecklenburg football coach, on the progress of his football team in his second year as head coach and the 24-0 shutout of Myers Park.
Records: East Mecklenburg is 6-5, 4-2 in the Southwestern 4A (SW4A). Myers Park is 6-5, 3-3.
Worth mentioning: East Meck’s six victories were more than they had in the last four seasons combined (5) and just one less than their win total over the past five years (7). ...The Eagles had their best season since 2009, when they went 8-6, which was also their last playoff appearance. ...East Meck is 4-1 on the road this season, which is likely where they will be as long as they are in the playoffs. ...Myers Park was shutout for the first time all season, and the first time overall since a 31-0 loss to Butler in 2008.
What's Next: Both Myers Park and East Mecklenburg will play first round, 4A playoffs games next Friday night.