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High School Football: No surprise - Mallard Creek still No. 1

By Langston Wertz Jr.
lwertz@charlotteobserver.com
MALLARDCREEK_WAKEFOREST_13
Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
Mallard Creek hopes to join Independence and Butler as the only Mecklenburg County schools to repeat as state 4A champions.

It probably won’t surprise too many people who follow high school football locally that Mallard Creek starts the season No. 1 in the Observer’s Sweet 16.

The Mavericks are ranked No. 9 in USA Today’s preseason poll, and despite returning just six starters from last year’s4AA state champion, coach Mike Palmieri’s team has restocked and appears every bit as deep and as talented as they were a year ago.

“They’re big, fast and physical,” South Meck coach Rocky White said earlier this month. “I don’t expect to see an ounce of dropoff.”

And you can’t say the Mavericks are ducking anyone either. They are a fighting champion.

Mallard Creek scrimmaged N.C. 4A champion Greensboro Dudley and N.C. 4A runner-up Scotland County four days apart last week. The Mavericks kick off the season Thursday against two-time N.C. 3A Independent Schools champion Charlotte Christian. After that, Mallard Creek plays 2012 N.C. 4AA champion Butler at Providence High.

Only two 4A teams in Mecklenburg County history have repeated as state champs – Butler and Independence – and Palmieri knows becoming the third team to do it won’t be easy. With the preseason and regular-season schedule he’s put together, he wants to make sure his team is ready when it gets its chance to try come November.

OBSERVER'S SWEET 16

Rk. School Class 2013 Record Comment
1.Mallard Creek4A16-0Lost offensive coordinator Aaron Brand to Vance after averaging 51 points per game last season
2.Butler4A11-414 starters back from NC 4AA state semifinalist; Butler spent offseason with focus on adding size for Mallard Creek
3. Rock HillNorthwestern4A15-0Finished fifth in one national ranking last season after winning S.C. state title
4.Hough4A10-2New coach Miles Aldridge is proven winner who gets playoff team with 14 starters back
5.Independence4A8-5Patriots added several coaches from championship past; 14 starters return, hoping to win big now
6.Rocky River4A11-3Beat Butler to win Southwestern 4A championship last season. Season-opening home game with Richmond Senior is instant barometer
7.Charlotte ChristianIND12-0Knights beat Charlotte Latin 48-10 to win back-to-back NCISAA titles; last Division I private to win 3 straight? Charlotte Latin (2005-07)
8.Rock Hill South Pointe3A11-3S.C. 4A power drops to class 3A this season and figures to challenge for the state title; in 2010 and ’11, team was 3A and went 27-3 with two finals appearances
9.Concord3A15-1Seven starters back, including 3 OL to block for Tennessee recruit Rocky Reid, who ran for 3,355 yards and 41 TDs last season
10.South Point3A13-1Clemson recruit Tanner Muse is one of eight starters back for perennial power
11.Providence4A8-5Had most wins since 2006 last year. Coach Justin Hardin back for second season and enters as SoMeck conference favorite
12.CharlotteCatholic4A12-3Cougars rely on tradition to rebuild after five-decade coach Jim Oddo retired and all-time best player Elijah Hood graduated
13.Mooresville4A11-2North Piedmont 3A/4A conference favorite returns 13 starters and looks to repeat last seasonâ’s league title
14.Monroe2A13-312 starters back for team blessed with speed and athleticism. RB Chase Byrum was his team’s offensive MVP in the 2013 state final
15.East Lincoln2A12-2N.C. Preps all-state QB Chazz Surratt threw for 2,590 yards and ran for 1,624. He’s one of 10 starters back for powerhouse 2A team
16.York, S.C.4A10-3Team is 30-10 the past three seasons. Before coach Bobby Carroll came over from South Pointe, York was 33-47 in seven years

Also receiving consideration: South Mecklenburg, 4A; A.L. Brown, 4A; Sun Valley, 3A; Ashbrook, 3A; Charlotte Latin, IND; Lincolnton, 2A

ELIGIBLE OBSERVER-AREA TEAMS

MECKLENBURG COUNTY

Ardrey Kell

Berry

Butler

Carmel Christian

Carolina Pride

Charlotte Catholic

Charlotte Latin

Charlotte Christian

Charlotte Country Day

Christ The King

Community School of Davidson

Covenant Day

Davidson Day

East Mecklenburg

Garinger

Harding

Hickory Grove

Hopewell

Independence

Lake Norman Charter

Mallard Creek

Myers Park

North Meck

Northside Christian

Olympic

Providence

Providence Day

Queens Grant

Rocky River

South Mecklenburg

Southlake Christian

United Faith

Vance

Victory Christian

West Charlotte

West Mecklenburg

CABARRUS COUNTY

AL Brown

Cannon School

Central Cabarrus

Concord

Concord First Assembly

Cox Mill

Hickory Ridge

Mount Pleasant

NW Cabarrus

Robinson

GASTON COUNTY

Ashbrook

Bessemer City

Cherryville

East Gaston

Forestview

Gaston Christian

Gaston Day

Highland Tech

Hunter Huss

North Gaston

South Point

Stuart Cramer

IREDELL COUNTY

Lake Norman

Mooresville

North Iredell

Pine Lake Prep

South Iredell

Statesville

Statesville Christian

West Iredell

YORK COUNTY

Nation Ford

Fort Mill

Clover

York

Northwestern

Rock Hill

Indian Land

Westminster Catawba

LINCOLN COUNTY

East Lincoln

Lincoln Charter

Lincolnton

North Lincoln

West Lincoln

UNION COUNTY

Central Academy

Cuthbertson

Forest Hills

Marvin Ridge

Metrolina Christian

Monroe

Parkwood

Piedmont

Porter Ridge

Sun Valley

Union Academy

Weddington

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