Feature Ñ EWMS records perfect season
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 13, 2005 2:01 AM
Using speed to overcome mistakes on defense. Third-year Eastern Wayne Middle School coach Tim Chatagnier felt that would be the major early-season factor in his team's success.
The Warriors entered some games a little bigger than their opponent, but also appeared outmatched in other contests.
Little did Chatagnier know -- or expect -- that defense would lead to the Warriors' most-successful season in school and Wayne County history.
Eastern Wayne didn't allow a touchdown in eight contests and yielded less than 20 first downs all season. The Warriors fashioned an 8-0 record and captured their third consecutive Wayne County Middle School Athletic Conference Division I crown.
County records show that previous schools had posted unbeaten seasons, but none had shut out every opponent.
"What a season," Chatagnier. "A very unusual one -- to say the least."
Just two teams managed to venture into the Warriors' red zone.
Goldsboro advanced to the 21-yard line and gave up the ball. Rosewood, in the regular-season finale, marched to the Eastern Wayne 9 and 24. The Eagles came up empty each time.
"We were sweating a little bit," chuckled Chatagnier.
Five seventh-graders emerged the defensive leaders during the historical run. A.B. Scott and Ricky Bell recorded 32 and 34 tackles, respectively. Scott also had five sacks. Linebackers Jonathan Midgette and Linwood Grantham combined for 59 stops. Midgette recovered five fumbles and scored four defensive touchdowns. Corner back Lamar Best had 30 tackles and nine pass break-ups.
"He's a little short kid who everyone thought they could throw at him," said Chatagnier. "Those seventh-graders are fast and they will hit you. They're good ball players.
"We put them in position to win. I knew we would be good, but I didn't realize how strong we were going to be."
Chatagnier said the Warriors' defense resembled that of traditional high school power Richmond County. It's called a "three-shade" because of how the interior linemen line up in the four-man front.
The scheme deceives opposing coaches because the Warriors appear in a "50" set on one side of the ball and wide-tackle six on the other side. Chatagnier said the challenge for him and his staff was to make sure the players are lined up and understand their assignments.
"This is not a pin-your-ears back and tackle the guys defense, it's a read defense," said Chatagnier, whose career record is 21-3. "It causes some teams some problems. We expect a lot of the kids in this defense and we did have some missed assignments early on."
But once the kinks got worked out, opposing teams just couldn't find any offensive rhythm. Eastern Wayne played aggressive on every down and used its speed to recover from mistakes on occasion.
Inside linebacker Will White emerged the team's leader with 62 tackles. Outside linebacker Mac Stover provided 36 tackles and four sacks.
Outside rush end Dominique Sadler led the team in sacks with 10, returned an interception for a touchdown and collected 35 tackles. Fellow outside end Jacar Kelly contributed 26 stops and recovered three fumbles.
Kenyatta Bryant and Zay Dickens (24 tackles) played in the secondary with Best.
Chatagnier, who retired from the Air Force in 1993, praised his team for focusing on assignments every play. The linebackers handled the fullbacks, the ends tracked the quarterback and the outside guys followed the pitch.
"We had more team speed than we've had in the past," said Chatagnier. "Teams like Greenwood, Norwayne and even Brogden were all very competitive teams. The scores really were not indicative of how close the contests were.
"We just had consistent play on both sides of the ball."
The Warriors executed well in the Delaware T offense and outscored their opponents 334-0. The linemen basically down block and double team, which gave Chatagnier's team a chance to consistently move the football.
But he just couldn't stop gushing about the defense or his coaching staff. Terry Jones and two volunteers -- Demetrius Speight and Rodney Bell -- provided countless hours of instruction in practice.
The staff realized after two games that the defense hadn't surrendered a touchdown. Superstitions began to run rampant and the coaches refused to mention it to the players.
"I'm an eternal pessimist and always expect the worst," said Chatagnier. "But, after the second game, I realized we are pretty good. I didn't say a word to the kids, but they knew.
"From that point, the (shutout talk) became a team thing. To have an undefeated year is special. But to experience something like this is even more rare."
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