What a difference one year made for East.
The Panthers made all the big plays they needed on defense Friday night at All High Stadium and emerged with a 6-0 triumph over three-time champion McKinley.
East (1-4 overall, 1-4 league) snapped a four-game losing streak and stayed alive in the Harvard Cup playoff chase while the Macks, who came into this season with 30 consecutive wins over league foes, dropped their fourth straight.
"It was the first time our seniors won over McKinley in their high school careers," said East coach Starling Bryant. "I really feel happy for them."
Last season, McKinley ran up and down the field in the second half en route to a 48-22 victory over East, pulling away from a 22-all halftime tie.
"They've lost a lot of good players from last year's team," Bryant said. "But still, it was a great team defensive effort for us."
Terrance Martin scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter to cap a 40-yard drive, all but 10 of it gained on the ground by Martin. East rushed for 145 yards and kept dangerous McKinley senior Kevin Chillis from doing any major damage.
"He put a scare into us a couple of times," Bryant said with a laugh. "On a punt return he reversed field and after about 50 yards, we were lucky to stop him, trip him up. He played in backfield some, really all over the field. He's a tough guy to contain."
Three seniors made huge contributions on defense -- linebacker Conrad McClain recovered a fumble at the East 9 to thwart McKinley's best drive in the third quarter, linebacker Brandon Jordan made 10 tackles and end Bryant Hammonds had two sacks and forced a fumble.