Ballet in cleats

Shinsky scoring run highlights Bulldog championship

Maryville Middle School running back Dylan Shinsky moves and grooves through the Sevierville defense during the Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference championship game last Saturday at Maryville College.

Photo by Brandon Shinn

Maryville Middle School running back Dylan Shinsky moves and grooves through the Sevierville defense during the Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference championship game last Saturday at Maryville College.

Perhaps the most entertaining running back of our time.

Over the top for an eighth-grader?

Of course it is, but then so was the totally gangsta, goal-line pirouette Dylan Shinsky used to slip a would-be Sevierville Middle School tackler in the Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference championship game last Saturday at Maryville College.

The game’s offensive most valuable player, Shinsky ran for scores of 23, 29 and 1 yards as Maryville Middle School capped its second consecutive unbeaten season with a 41-12 shellacking of the Bears.

Bulldog seventh-grader Brian Tillery, the championship game’s defensive most valuable player with three interceptions on the day, added a pair of touchdown runs as Maryville won for the 20 consecutive time, equaling a school-record win streak. Tillery’s pick with six minutes to play in the half set up the Shinsky 29-yard scoring run with the something special at the end.

First recovering an errant pitch on the run in the backfield, the Maryville ace tore upfield and slipped the grasp of a pair of Bears with a quick spin move just shy of the 20. Continuing up the sideline, the Bulldog back looked surely cornered, a Sevierville defender taking a perfect angle to intercept Shinsky at the 1-yard line.

He did, only to see Shinsky come to a dead stop and fling said defender from his shoulder pads with a stunning pirouette. What made the play memorable was the Bulldog rushing star showed not even the slightest hint of losing his balance, stepping calmly across the goal line and flipping the ball to an official after scoring.

“I just thought about keeping my balance and keep going,” Shinsky said. “I’ve been working on it. I guess it’s like an instinct to do it.”

“It was crazy!” Tillery said.

Shinsky’s dazzling scoring run lifted the Bulldogs to a 27-6 lead at the half. The highlight-reel moves he put on display during the run are nothing new, Malone said.

“I don’t mean this to sound arrogant, but that (run) doesn’t surprise me with Dylan Shinsky,” he said. “He’s just got great strength and great balance, and, when you put that with great character, things happen.”

Tillery had powered in for Maryville’s first two scores, but his interceptions were of greater damage to the Bears. The Bulldogs drove for points behind two of them, pushing Sevierville ever closer to desperation as the afternoon waned.

The Bulldogs had taken the regular season meeting between the two teams handily, Maryville winning going away, 34-8. With Sevierville entering the championship game after knocking Alcoa in a playoff semifinal on Thursday, Malone said he felt the earlier clash with the Bears might be too far removed to matter. Tillery’s final interception with two minutes to play in the third finished the Bears for good.

“I was very concerned,” he said. “They (the Bears) had a great game with Alcoa, and Alcoa has a great football team. The thing that worried me about play Sevierville again was they were going to be on a high.”

Sevierville never seemed to find an answer for the one-two punch of Shinsky/Tillery, though.

“We basically depend on each other,” Tillery said. “One guy gets down, the other’s just got to pick the team up.”

It’s a practice the two Bulldogs standouts have held to all season, Malone said. The humility both display, he said, is no act.

“Never have these guys been arrogant,” Malone said. “Never.”

Shinsky set up the first Tillery score with a pair of long bursts on the game’s opening possession. A Paul Bristol diving catch put the Bulldogs at the Bear goal line for the second.

After Sevierville answered with a score of its own, the Bulldogs raced 68 yards in five plays to open the lead to 27-6 on Shinsky’s YouTube special with four minutes remaining until intermission.

The Bears responded with a 12-play drive to the Maryville 44-yard line with four seconds to play in the half, Sevierville having one last go at the end zone on fourth-and-14. The Bulldogs’ Bryce Miller had put the Bears in that predicament with a timely sack. Tillery shut the door on Sevierville for the half on the next play, collecting his second interception, this one in the end zone, as time expired.

The Bears returned with renewed determination when play resumed, trimming the Maryville lead to 27-12 at the four minute mark of the third. The Bulldogs were then intercepted two plays into the ensuing series.

Shinsky quickly made it a moot point with his third touchdown of the day at the two-minute mark of the period, the 1-yard plunge opening the Bulldog lead to 34-12. Maryville’s Zack Cardwell found the Sevierville end zone on a quarterback sneak with six minutes left to conclude the scoring.

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