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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Football finishes season 5-5 despite numerous challenges

Farris Duwayri
Senior quarterback Zeke Teffere prepares for the snap against Johnson on Nov. 3. The Knights won 33-9, ending the season with a record of 5-5.

Under interim head coach Delbert Ellerton, the football team finished the 2023 season 5-5 with three consecutive wins.

The Knights are not eligible for the state playoffs because the team hasn’t participated in region play for the last two years after the 2021 season was changed to junior varsity only.

“I think these past two seasons have really been building the program,” junior linebacker Micah Whiskey said. “It’s good they took us out of the region; it allowed us to gain our confidence back and play with other teams in a similar situation to us.” 

Ellerton, the boys head track coach, was named the head coach last-minute, despite having minimal experience coaching football. He worked in professional journalism for 10 years and is Midtown’s newspaper adviser, which he said has aided him in his coaching.

“One thing I think that helped me is my training and experience as a journalist because it’s kind of the same thing,” Ellerton said. “When I worked professionally as a journalist, you always went into these, sort of, unknown situations, and you got to make it make sense. You have to make it make sense quickly. I think [football and journalism] seem like they are totally unrelated, but it did help.” 

Defensive coordinator DeAndre Brown came into the coaching staff with previous head coach Darrell Howard, Brown said having a head coach switch up at the last-minute was hard for the team. 

“The coaching changes really affected the mindset and morale,” Brown said. “It’s not just about football, it’s family and before the changes we all became close as one we put in a lot of time and bonded a lot during the summer to some of these young athletes a coach is not only a coach we play many roles, big brother, counselor, friend and just sometimes someone to talk to.”

Molly Paulson, mother of twin players, Jude and Dean Paulson, said she was appreciative of Ellerton for stepping up.

“I think the season went pretty well,” Paulson said. “I think that coach Howard had so much forward moving momentum and leadership that was lost when he left. I believe that coach Ellerton did the best that he could given the situation.”

Similar to Paulson, Brown valued Ellerton becoming head coach as it allowed Midtown to have a team. 

“Coach Ellerton, he stepped and stepped up to the challenge,” Brown said. “At first I was like ‘hey he coaches track’ and track and football are two different atmospheres, but nevertheless he jumped right into the role. I respected the fact that he got right into the scheme of things and kept us on our toes.”

As the head boys track coach, Ellerton has coaching experience at Midtown. One of his runners last year, Kyron Parker committed to run Division 1 for N.C. State. Ellerton said the transition from track to football was easier because many track athletes compete on the football team. 

“I think [the players on football] were a lot nicer to me at the end than they were in the beginning when I first came out here,” Ellerton said. “They’re like ‘what’s this guy doing out here? He is a track coach.’ It was kind of rough in the beginning because the ones that knew me, my track kids, knew how I am, and the other ones had to make an adjustment to me.” 

Sophomore receiver and defensive back Kentrell White said the hard effort in the preseason during the spring and summer contributed to some of the season’s success, and the team got better throughout the season. 

“The preseason helped us a lot, especially the UGA camps, because some people got offers for college, and we played a lot of good competition,” White said.

The Knights had a four-game losing streak during the season, which was partly caused by a number of injuries. Senior quarterback Zeke Teffere missed games due to a hand injury and junior Noah Morrison, the starter, was injured in the third quarter of the first game, so junior quarterback Ethan Ward was the only quarterback available for both varsity and junior varsity. 

“Ethan completely stepped up,” Whiskey said. ”There’s a lot of pressure being the only quarterback, but he played very well and was really a key piece of the team, especially when he was the singular quarterback.”

Junior cornerback Cadarius Guilbeau said as the team started to become more bonded, the team’s performance improved.

“I had just come to Midtown last spring, so I was the new kid,” Guilbeau said. “Football gave me time to bond and get to know everybody. We started bonding [as a team], and we had each other’s back, no matter what. We built a brotherhood.” 

Ellerton said enhancing player discipline was one of his objectives as head coach, in addition to raising the team’s performance. 

“I emphasized discipline when I came,” Ellerton said. “It’s a whole lot of language stuff that is not appropriate. That’s the primary thing. It’s all about how you carry yourself because you can get penalties for saying things that you shouldn’t be saying.”

Ellerton said he will not be returning to coach the football team for the upcoming season, but senior Milner Ball believes the team is headed toward a strong region record. 

“We are ready,” Ball said. “It has been long enough that we proved in our preseason that we can play at the same level as Maynard (region rival Maynard Jackson) and the rest of our region; so it feels right that we are getting ready for region play (next season).” 

Brown said he was overall proud of how the athletes and coaches adjusted during the season.

“As the defensive coordinator for this team … we are still in business; we may have bent a little,” Brown said. “We didn’t break; we only allowed 178 points for the season; so, it was tough moments, but as the leader of these fine athletes, I wasn’t going to let them see me sweat. I stood tall with them and let them know I had their back; so, I had no choice but to show no fear, and that’s the way we played, fearless and all out this season.” 

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About the Contributors
Cate Barton
Cate Barton, Sports Managing Editor
Cate Barton is a junior and this is her third year writing for The Southerner. She enjoys soccer, basketball, running and hanging out with friends. She is excited to continue writing for The Southerner.
Farris Duwayri
Farris Duwayri, News Associate Managing Editor
Farris Duwayri is a junior and this is his third year on the staff. He enjoys playing Midtown's football team and debate team. He likes cars and hanging out with friends

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