Save Money in this Sunday's paper

comments

The Observer’s Sweet 16: Mallard Creek starts on top

By Langston Wertz Jr
lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

More Information

  • The Observer’s Sweet 16: Mallard Creek starts on top
  • The Observer’s Sweet 16: Mallard Creek starts on top
  • The Observer’s Sweet 16: Mallard Creek starts on top
  • The Observer’s Sweet 16: Mallard Creek starts on top
  • The Observer’s Sweet 16: Mallard Creek starts on top
  • The Observer’s Sweet 16: Mallard Creek starts on top
  • Prep football previews
  • More prep sports
  • More information

    Rank, School, (Class), 2012 Record, Pts., (First Place Votes)

    1. Mallard Creek (4A), 12-2; 80 (5): Reached the N.C. 4AA semifinals the past two seasons. Nationally ranked in most 2013 polls.

    2. Rock Hill Northwestern, (4A) 12-3; 75: Star QB Mason Rudolph leads a deep, experienced team that lost in the S.C. 4A Division II state championship game in 2012.

    3 Butler, (4A) 15-0 67: Won three of the past four N.C. 4AA state championships, but only returns six starters.

    4. Rock Hill South Pointe, (4A) 12-2; 59: Stallions will have a stalwart defense led by BCS recruit Zeek Rodney.

    5. Independence (4A), 10-3; 54: 16 starters return for first-year coach Joe Evans, including RB Isaiah Robinson, who has committed to Wake Forest.

    6. Crest (3A), 10-3; 52: 10 starters and 24 lettermen return to a team with a legitimate state championship shot.

    7. South Point (3A), 12-1; 51: Fullback Tyler Bray is one of 13 starters back. Bray rushed for 2,556 yards and 36 TDs.

    8. Charlotte Catholic (4A), 13-2; 47: All-American Elijah Hood leads a team that reached the N.C. 3AA state finals last season but moves up to 4A this season.

    Rank, School, (Class), 2012 Record; Pts., (First Place Votes) Comment

    T9. Hough (4A), 9-3; 35: This could be the best team in the school’s brief history. Huskies have multiple players with BCS offers.

    T9. Charlotte Christian (IND), 9-3; 35: Knights have never repeated as N.C. Independent Schools state champion. They begin 2013 as the favorite to do just that.

    T11. West Rowan (3A), 10-3; 26: 11 starters and 26 lettermen return for coach Scott Young, whose team was 10-3 last season. Young wants to develop a quarterback. The other parts are there.

    T11. Statesville (3A), 13-2; 26: Greyhounds were 13-2 last season and return a talented group led by linebacker Jacob Powell, who had 109 tackles last season.

    13. Shelby (2A), 8-6; 16: Golden Lions return three of five starters on the offensive line and 13 starters and 34 lettermen. They’re a legitimate title contender.

    14. East Lincoln (2A), 16-0; 15: 10 starters are back for the reigning state champions, who are ranked at the top of several 2A statewide preseason polls.

    15. Porter Ridge (4A), 13-2; 12: Pirates have reached two straight 4A state finals, but this season they move into the Southwestern 4A, arguably the state’s toughest conference.

    16. Burns (3A), 10-4; 11: Bulldogs coach Matt Beam believes his offense can be explosive and if the defense grows around five returnees, he believes this could be one of the best teams the school has had in a while.

    Others receiving votes: Charlotte Country Day (IND) 9 points;Vance (4A) 3 points.



Mallard Creek’s Mavericks are the No. 1 team in the Observer’s preseason Sweet 16 football poll for 2013.

Mallard Creek has started the past two seasons at No. 2 behind the Butler Bulldogs, but the Mavericks have been in the top spot before.

In 2011, they started the season with a 28-20 win at home against Butler. That win ended Butler’s 31-game winning streak and the Mavericks took over the top spot, which they kept for most of the year.

What the Mavericks haven’t done, however, is finish the year at No. 1. Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri figures now would be a good time to start.

The team has 40 lettermen and 13 starters returning. There are some potential hurdles along the way – Mallard Creek plays Butler, Charlotte Catholic and Hough before the playoffs even begin – but Palmieri likes his team’s chances.

Mallard Creek has lost in the state semifinals the past two seasons.

“We better be real hungry,” Palmieri said. “We’ve been working hard now and it’s a process. We lost to two good teams (eventual state champions Greensboro Page and Butler) the past two years.

“...It’s too early to say this is the best team we’ve had, but we’ll be pretty good. We feel we have just as good a chance as anyone to win a state championship.”

Palmieri’s team has college-recruited talent at multiple positions. Quarterback Emiere Scaife has committed to Appalachian State. Tight end Jaylen Samuels has committed to N.C. State. Defensive back Cameron Mattison is headed to Toledo. Defensive linemen Ikeem Allen is bound for Ball State.

With all that talent, and the Mavericks’ preseason national rankings in several polls, Palmieri said expectations are high. He said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Every year you should put pressure on yourself as a coach,” he said. “If your goal isn’t to win a state championship, you shouldn’t be coaching. We understand what’s at stake and we put pressure on ourselves every day at practice, and in every game to win. Our goals are high.

“We’ve been knocking on that (state championship) door the last two years. We’ve been there. Now we’ve just go to finish.”

Wertz: 704-612-9716; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr
Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more



Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more


Quick Job Search
Salary Databases
College Basketball Bracket Challenge
Your 2 Cents
Share your opinion with our Partners
Learn More