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Mallard Creek’s N.C. 4A title hopes dealt blow by QB Scaife’s injury

By Langston By Wertz Jr.
Langston Wertz Jr.
Langston Wertz Jr. writes about high schoool sports for The Charlotte Observer and

Mallard Creek started playing football in 2007. The Mavericks were 2-9 after that first season.

Since then, Mallard Creek quickly has emerged as one of the state’s top programs.

This season, the Mavericks are nationally ranked again and No. 1 in both the Observer’s Sweet 16 and the N.C. 4A Associated Press media poll.

They are among the favorites to win a state championship, something the school has never done, but those hopes may have taken a big blow Friday.

On the third play of an otherwise pedestrian 59-0 win against West Charlotte, quarterback Emiere Scaife, committed to Appalachian State, went down with a severe ankle injury after a 14-yard scramble. He was taken to a local hospital. On Thursday, he’ll visit an ankle specialist.

“They said it could be a fracture,” Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri said. “But ankles are tricky. It could be something that could heal on its own. I really 100percent don’t know. He’ll be out (of practices and games) until we know what’s going on. It was a simple play. He just got rolled up on.”

Backup quarterback James Smith ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more Friday, and Palmieri is confident Smith can continue to take the Mavericks in the direction they need to go.

“Anytime you lose a player like (Scaife), it’s going to affect your team,” Palmieri said, “but we’ve got good players. We’ve got a good backup we’re comfortable with and we like our chances to win some ballgames down the stretch.”

Palmieri also has some experience with losing star players.

In 2010, Mallard Creek was unbeaten and a state-championship favorite. All-American QB Marquise Willliams injured his left ankle in the first half of a 49-23 second-round playoff win against Ardrey Kell. With Williams trying to play but hobbling – and eventually sitting – Mallard Creek was upset by Vance 10-7 the next week in the state quarterfinals.

In 2011, unbeaten Mallard Creek lost several starters to injury before a state semifinal playoff at Greensboro Page. Page upset Mallard Creek 41-27 and went on to win the state title.

In 2012, unbeaten Mallard Creek lost All-American receiver Marquez North, the state’s top recruit, to an injury at the end of the regular season. The Mavericks lost 27-0 to eventual state champion Butler in the state semifinals.

“We’re used to having stars out,” Palmieri said. “Guys get injured and we’ve got to adjust and hope others step up. We’re playing awesome right now. We’re playing great football all around, the best we’ve played in a long time.

“There’s never a good time for this to happen, but in the last couple of years it was happening in the playoffs or the game before. If one thing good comes out of this, we have six games before we get to the playoffs to fix what we need to fix.”

With or without Scaife, Mallard Creek likely will be favored to win each of its six remaining games, except, perhaps, the Oct.11 home game with Sweet16 No.3 Hough. Hough is No.5 in the Associated Press 4A poll.

“We’ll see about Hough,” Palmieri said. “Right now, we’ve got Hopewell Friday and we’ll worry about Hopewell. We’ll deal with Hough when it’s Hough time.”

• Looks to me as though Statesville sophomore QB Travis Ramseur is one of the best 10th-graders in the state. I’ve had statewide experts tell me he’s special, and Friday against a good Mooresville team he completed 15 of 23 passes for 261 yards. He also ran for 98 yards and a touchdown. Ramseur scored on a fourth-and-goal from the 1 with about three minutes to play to give his team a 39-34 lead, but Mooresville won in the final minutes after Tommy Bullock’s 37-yard scoring pass to Justin Jones to make it 40-39.

• Sticking with my theme, another top local sophomore is East Lincoln QB Chazz Surratt, an all-state receiver as a freshman on an unbeaten state champion. He had more than 1,000 receiving yards last year. This year he’s on his way to a 1,000-yard rushing and 1,000-yard passing season.

Surratt ran 21 times for 260 yards and five touchdowns in Friday’s 55-26 win at Bandys. He completed 11 of 22 passes for 187 yards and two more touchdowns.

• Maiden beat Bunker Hill for the 24th straight time in Friday’s 38-17 win. Both teams were 4-0 entering the game. Bunker Hill had four turnovers and 19 penalties for 149 yards.

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

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