Vance High football coach Aaron Brand said this week’s rivalry game with Mallard Creek is just like any other week.
Brand was previously offensive coordinator at Mallard Creek and coached an offense that averaged more than 50 points per game last season en route to a state championship. Brand left after the school year ended in June to take the Vance High job. He’s led Vance to a fast 6-1 start, already equaling the school’s win total from a year ago.
Vance, which averaged 30 points last season, is averaging 45 now. Mallard Creek, which averaged 51 last season, averages 40.5 now.
“It’s absolutely, positively no different than any other game,” Brand said Wednesday morning. “All we know is we’re in first place (in the MECKA 8 Conference; tied with Mallard Creek). It’s nothing personal. I’m comfortable with the decision I made to come over here. We will prepare to play the same way and we will expect to win the same way.”
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Vance, No. 9 in the Observer’s Sweet 16, is 3-0 in MECKA 8 Conference play, the same as No. 1 Mallard Creek. The winner will have the inside track to the league title. Mallard Creek leads the all-time series 6-3, including winning the last four meetings. The average margin of victory in those four wins is 32 points.
“I think the pressure is on them,” Brand said. “They’re supposed to beat us. It’s well-known they don’t ‘get up’ for Vance. We never got up for Vance when I was over there. We’re the only ones who believe we can win. Talk to anybody else and the amount they win by varies, but everybody sees them winning. We’ll play fast and hard, but we expect to be successful.”
Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri – whose team rallied from 30 points down to beat Hough last week – expects another tough game.
“We work on making it not about me and coach Brand,” Palmieri said. “It’s our kids against their kids, and we’ll do everything we can to prepare for Friday. We know it’ll be a tough test. They always have really good athletes... we’re preparing for a four-quarter game. You come out and you make plays, and you block and you tackle and you’ve got a good chance of winning.”
• Hickory High football coach Mike Helms resigned Wednesday, the Hickory Daily Record reported. Assistant Forrest Blake will serve as interim coach. Helms formerly coached at West Charlotte.
Charlotte Latin’s Leila Evans committed to North Carolina. Evans, who also plays softball and swims, will join a Tar Heels team that’s made 33 NCAA appearances and won six national championships.
Providence seniors Andrew Fishel (Ohio State) and Trevor Rhyne (Catawba) have committed to colleges, coach Danny Hignight said. Fishel is a catcher; Rhyne is a first baseman.
Charlotte Country Day’s volleyball team (39-1) climbs to No. 12 in this week’s MaxPreps national rankings. The Bucs begin N.C Independent Schools state playoff competition next week. Charlotte Country Day won the state title in 2013.
Metrolina Christian’s boys and SouthLake Christian’s girls won titles at the Metrolina Athletic confrence meet this week at McAlpine Park.
Tate Johnson of Metrolina won the boys race in 17:07.6, well ahead of Northside Christian’s Austin Moore (17:53.6). SouthLake’s Zach Ballard was third (17:53.6). SouthLake was second in the team totals, followed by Gaston Christian.
Hickory Grove’s Meredith Garcia won the girls race in 20:57.6. Teammate Imani Riddick-Cherry (21:48.8) was second followed by SouthLake’s Nicole Aswell (21:56.5). In the team race, Metrolina Christian finished second behind SouthLake and Hickory Grove was third.