Charlotte Christian pulled off a statement win in a season of statement wins Friday night.
Christian (5-0), a small private school, won 52-38 over visiting North Davidson (4-1), a 4A public school.
Despite having but one senior starter on offense -- center Jack Bennett -- the Knights have also beaten reigning 4A state champion Charlotte Catholic, N.C. 3A public school Cuthbertson and S.C. 5A public school West Ashley this season.
The combined record of those teams, minus the losses to Charlotte Christian losses, is 11-2.
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“Our kids played well,” Christian coach Jason Estep said of Friday’s win. “We’ll take it. No disrespect to Carolina Pride (a home-school team the Knights beat 49-0 Aug. 26), but we have had four difficult games and I’m happy to get to (next week’s) bye, man.”
Estep saw his team take a 7-0 lead Friday but then fall prey to a flurry of mistakes as North Davidson took a 21-7 lead.
“We never panicked,” Estep said. “We said, ‘We’ll score some points, they’ll score some points. It may come down to who has the ball last.’ Our defense made some plays, but man, on offense, we were pretty dynamic.”
Christian had 616 yards of offense, including 317 yards passing and five touchdowns from sophomore quarterback Garrett Shrader. Junior tailback Justus Woods, Estep said, was 100 percent healthy for the first time all season. He’s had his carries limited with due to a nagging hamstring injury. But he ran free Friday, carrying 23 times for 199 yards.
“I enjoy coaching this group,” Estep said. “I’m not sure when, but these young guys are gonna be good. I look out there and we’ve got a sophomore quarterback and freshmen and sophomores running routes. It’s crazy.”
Christian beat an N.C. 4A public school team for the first time, joining Charlotte Latin and Charlotte Country Day among Mecklenburg County private schools to pull off that feat. Charlotte Latin beat Providence to start the season.
“I talked to our kids before the pregame meal,” Estep said. “I said, ‘This is another opportunity for our program and our brand that we try to represent, to go out there and make an impact in the state. Let’s not waste this opportunity.”
Most certainly, they did not.
▪ Berry scored a late touchdown Friday to beat West Charlotte 14-12, denying the Lions their first win this season.
▪ In three of its four games, nationally ranked Mallard Creek has only scored four touchdowns. The Mavericks scored seven points in a win at S.C. state power Dillon, and scored six in a loss to S.C. state power Rock Hill South Pointe Friday. That’s the lowest output for a Mallard Creek team since losing 27-6 in August 2012 to an all-time great Butler team.
By contrast, the three-time N.C. 4AA champion Mavericks averaged 39.7 points in 2015, 42.3 in 2014 and 54.6 in 2013.
This season, Mallard Creek is averaging 17.2 points. And even with a defense that mostly bottled up South Pointe Friday and is allowing just 13 points per game against some of the best competition in the Carolinas, a fourth straight state championship will come down to whether the Mavericks can score enough.
The Mavericks have lost two outstanding offensive coordinators in recent years. Aaron Brand, who left after the 2013 season, is the coach at unbeaten Vance, which is regularly topping 50 points, and former Independence High All-America quarterback Joe Cox left after the 2014 season to become an assistant coach at Colorado State. Good news if you like Mallard Creek? All the pieces are there.
▪ Twitter was abuzz with news of Mallard Creek losing at Rock Hill South Pointe Friday night. The Mavericks are disliked much the same as Independence when the Patriots won seven straight state championships from 2000-06. They also are the Super Bowl for every team they play, and I have to credit Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri for annually playing one of the toughest schedules in the Carolinas, often seeking to play powerful teams on the road. Is a fourth straight title out of the question because they lost to a state championship team on the road Friday? Of course not.
▪ There’s an emerging star in south Charlotte. At Providence Day, 6-foot-4, 270-pound junior defensive lineman Elijiah Brown got a scholarship offer from Wake Forest Friday. Coaches from Wake Forest and North Carolina watched him get a sack for a safety in a 60-0 win over Victory Christian Friday night. Brown has more than 50 tackles and six sacks this season. He’ll visit Clemson Saturday.
▪ After 44 years at the Fayetteville Observer, Earl Vaughan Jr.’s last day was Friday. He was and is a giant in N.C. high school sports. A true Hall of Fame talent, I’ve longed viewed Vaughan as one of the all-time great high school reporters in N.C. history, along with Chris Hobbs of the Hickory Daily Record, Richard Walker of the Gaston Gazette and Tim Stevens, who recently retired from the Raleigh News & Observer. Like Stevens, Vaughan will be missed. He was classy, smart and always put the right kind of microscope on Fayetteville athletics. His goodbye tweet, which invoked the -30- markings reporters used to signify the end of a story, was perfect.
▪ After Friday’s 52-14 loss to Vance, Independence is 0-5. The fall has come fast for the once-mighty Patriots. Forgot the glory years from 2000-09 when the Patriots were among the nation’s best teams, won seven state titles and had a 109-game win streak. Just two years ago, Joe Evans had Independence at 12-1. Now, the Patriots are off to their worst start since 1992.
▪ Concord beat South Rowan 41-11 to win its 29th straight South Piedmont league game Friday.
No. 3 Rock Hill Northwestern 35, Spartanburg 31: After trailing 7-0 early, Northwestern sprinted out to a 35-21 lead and held on to improve to 4-1. Spartanburg quarterback William Nex had a big night, completing 39-of-61 passes for 426 yards and two touchdowns. He had five receivers with at least six catches. Northwestern stars Jerry Howard (10 carries, 44 yards, one touchdown) and Gage Moloney (13-for-25, 142 yards, three touchdowns) didn’t have big games, but Northwestern won on a night when it was outgained 552-205.
No. 8 Davidson Day 61, Community School of Davidson 12: Sam Hartman threw seven touchdowns in the first half and didn’t play the second half. He threw three scoring passes to sophomore Nolan Groulx. Aedon Johnson caught two touchdown passes. Sophomore Clayton Cribb ran for more than 100 yards and a score. Davidson Day, which has a bye next week, sat five defensive starters Friday. “We’re just beat up,” coach Chad Grier said.
Charlotte Country Day 22, Pinewood Prep 6: The Bucs beat the 2015 S.C. runner-up at home. Pinewood Prep (4-1) was 11-2 last season. Friday, Country Day got 102 yards passing and a score from junior quarterback Tyler Shearer. The Bucs (2-3) ended a two-game losing streak and will play at Raleigh Ravenscroft next Friday.
Marvin Ridge 56, Garinger 6: Garinger, which lost its 46th straight game, plays Sweet 16 No. 2 Butler next week. After an 0-3 start, Marvin Ridge has won two straight, against Providence Day and now the Wildcats. Marvin Ridge plays Union County rival Porter Ridge at home next week.
Porter Ridge 20, Olympic 14: Down 14-13 at halftime, Porter Ridge got a 2-yard scoring run from Grayson McCall to improve to 3-1 this season. Olympic, which got two scores from Demarquis Truesdale, fell to 2-2.
Rocky River 21, North Meck 20, 2 OT: Rocky River (1-3) got its first win of the season, blocking a potential game-tying extra point that would’ve sent the game to a third overtime. North Meck fell to 2-2.
Friday’s Top Performers
Jack Cherry, Julian Boddie, Providence: In a 31-30 upset of East Mecklenburg, Cherry was 10-for-24 for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Boddie rushed 17 times for 97 yards and two scores. Providence (1-3) won for the first time this season.
Canaan Cox, Statesville Christian: 12 carries, 150 yards plus 68 yards receiving in a win over Winston-Salem Prep. He had one touchdown.
Jack Davidson, Jacquez Robinson, Saiq Patrick, Ben Norris, Myers Park: In a 28-14 win over Myers Park, Davidson threw for 177 yards and a score. Robinson ran 15 times for 117 yards and a score. Patrick had five catches for 129 yards and a score. Norris had 10 tackles, three pass break ups and two tackles for a loss.
T.J. Elliott, Khamal Howard, East Mecklenburg: In the Providence loss, Elliott returned two interceptions for touchdowns. Howard ran 36 times for 165 yards and a score.
Sam Hartman, Nolan Groux, Clayton Cribb, Davidson Day: In a 60-12 win over Community School of Davidson, Hartman completed 11-of-16 passes for 378 yards and seven touchdowns in the first half. Groulx caught five passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns. Cribb ran 15 times for 169 yards and a score.
Sam Howell, Jerimiah Miller, Sun Valley: In a 28-14 loss to Myers Park, Howell, a sophomore quarterback, was 24-of-42 for 270 yards and a score. Senior receiver Miller had nine catches for 138 yards.
Kingsley Ifedi, Michael Roberts, Vance: In a 52-14 win over Independence, Ifedi completed 20-of-32 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns. He ran eight times for 57 yards. Receiver Michael Roberts had 10 catches for 127 yards and a score.
Gabe Montgomery, Providence Day: In a 60-0 win over Victory Christian, Montgomery had 14 carries for 176 yards and two touchdowns.
Tim Newman, Charlotte Country Day: Freshman ran for a career-high 146 yards and a touchdown in a 22-6 win over Pinewood Prep (S.C.).
Nijere Peoples, Butler: Junior had 17 carries for 109 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-10 win over Hough.
Garrett Shrader, Justus Woods, Charlotte Christian: Sophomore quarterback completed 20-of-33 passes for 317 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-38 win over 4A North Davidson (4-1). Junior Justus Woods ran 23 times for 199 yards and two touchdowns.
DeMarkes Stradford, Charlotte Latin: Ran 10 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-8 win over Carolina Pride. He returned four punts for 60 yards.