Mallard Creek football coach Mike Palmieri says he likes his teams to “play fast” whenever possible – using a brisk tempo to try to take control early.
On Friday night against outmatched West Charlotte, the Mavericks, ranked No. 5 in the Observer’s Sweet 16, scored fast too – three touchdowns before the first quarter was half over – on the way to a 45-7 victory in the MECKA 4A Conference opener for both teams at Mallard Creek.
Mallard Creek bounced back from its first loss of the season two weeks ago at Rock Hill South Pointe, a game in which the Mavericks were plagued by penalties and turnovers.
Neither was a problem in this game. Quarterback Chauncey Caldwell passed for 189 yards and three touchdowns – all to senior wide receiver Deshaun Abel, and defensive back Deonte Grier and linebacker Larry Matkins returned interceptions for touchdowns.
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“We’ve had pretty close games up to now and we wanted to throw the ball around a little and open things up,” Palmieri said.
The Mavericks did just that, scoring on their first two possessions on passes of 18 and 4 yards from Caldwell to Abel, with Grier’s 26-yard pick six sandwiched in between. A safety gave Mallard Creek a 24-0 end-of-first-quarter lead, which ballooned to 45-0 at halftime.
The game was the first as West Charlotte’s interim head coach for former assistant Josh Harris. He was promoted after Deron Hart, who had been head coach since the start of the 2015 season, resigned unexpectedly Tuesday, citing a lack of school support.
With a continuously running clock in the second half, the Lions got their only touchdown with about two minutes left in the game. Junior quarterback Lamontay Carr finished a short drive with a 2-yard keeper for the score.
Quote: “We weren’t trying to set any scoring records. It was a good opportunity to play a lot of people. We executed pretty well on both sides of the ball until their last drive late in the game.” – Palmieri
Records: West Charlotte is 0-6, 0-1; Mallard Creek is 4-1, 1-0.
Worth mentioning: West Charlotte players kneeled during the playing of the National Anthem before the game. ... Mallard Creek’s first 14 plays from scrimmage were passes.
What’s Next: Mallard Creek will host Hopewell at 7 p.m. Friday in a MECKA 4A game that’s also the Mavericks’ homecoming. West Charlotte will host North Mecklenburg at 7.
West Charlotte 0 0 0 7 - 7
Mallard Creek 24 21 0 0 - 45
MC - Keshaun Abel 18 pass from Chauncey Caldwell (Nasjzae Bryant run)
MC - Deonte Grier 26 interception return (Josh Silverstein kick)
MC - Abel 4 pass from Caldwell (Silverstein kick)
MC - Safety, intentional grounding in end zone
MC - Joel Gilmore 3 run (Silverstein kick)
MC - Larry Matkins 40 interception return (Silverstein kick)
MC - Abel 9 pass from Caldwell (Silverstein kick)
WC - Lamontay Carr 2 run (Alex Wiesecke kick)