Playing at Virginia powerhouse George Washington High on Friday night was personal for Vance coach Aaron Brand.
Brand played quarterback at Halifax (Va.) High and led his team to a state title in 1991. Along the way, Halifax was ranked No. 1 in the state and had to beat No. 2 George Washington twice – in the regular-season finale and the first round of the playoffs. Nearly 25 years later, Brand desperately wanted to take his team back home so his friends and family could see his Cougars play.
Despite an off performance from Vance junior QB Kingsley Ifedi (two rush TDs), Vance won 28-7 against a team ranked among the top 10 in its state. Donnavan Spencer ran for more than 150 yards and two scores as the Cougars, No. 2 in the Sweet 16, improved to 3-0.
“We were in a dogfight,” Brand said. “It was 7-0 at halftime, and we wore them down a little bit. But they’re good. I’m happy our guys survived. It’s a major win for us. They’re state championship contenders every year, and I wanted my mama to see us play. I had to bring my team home. And just to see how they performed in front of my family and friends, it meant everything to me. And I don’t think we have any major injuries, so that makes it better.”
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▪ As Mallard Creek was giving up three scores on three plays to nationally ranked Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes Friday, the Twitter hate started reigning in pretty heavy. The Mavericks rallied from 21-0 down and 28-7 down to lead 29-28 with less than 30 seconds left. Byrnes got a big kickoff return, kicked a field goal and then blocked a field goal to hold onto win a wild game. Byrnes had only lost at home three times in 14 years.
Mallard Creek, ranked as high as No. 7 nationally, will surely fall a good bit. Judging from national writers I was reading on social media, there wasn’t as much respect for a two-time state champ with at least 15 D1 recruits as you might expect. Credit to Byrnes for a great game plan, going for broke on three passes and successfully kicking an onside kick after scoring the first time. Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri said he felt that playing in a hostile environment would help his team in the long run. A regular-season loss will sting for a little while, but the Mavericks ultimate goal is to become the second team in Mecklenburg County history -- after Independence -- to win three straight state titles as a 4A team. I still would not bet against Mallard Creek doing that.
In fact, this game may make them harder to beat than ever moving forward.
▪ Myers Park lost defensive coordinator Drew Witman right before the 2014-15 school year ended. Witman went to Country Day, his alma mater, and replaced his father, Bob, as the Bucs’ head coach. Myers Park hired former Andy Markantine, who had coached in South Carolina, to run the defense.
So far, Markatine is doing a phenomenal job. Myers Park is 2-1 after a dominant 38-8 win Friday over rival Providence. The Mustangs beat Country Day 19-14 to start the season and gave Sweet 16 No. 10 Ardrey Kell all it wanted before losing 21-9 last week. These Mustangs -- who have former North Carolina All-Amerian Dre Bly coaching defensive backs -- look like the real thing, particularly on defense, and have a rather large showdown with chief rival South Meck next week.
▪ West Charlotte ended a three-game losing streak with Friday’s 40-16 win over rival Harding. The Lions gave first-year coach Daren Hart his first win. West Charlotte has won three of the past four meetings with Harding.
▪ Weather affected games all over the Observer coverage area Friday. Several teams didn’t begin the second half until nearly 10 p.m., or about when games would normally end. Several were postponed: Concord Robinson at Hickory Ridge is Monday at 7; Parkwood at Piedmont is Monday at 6:30. Burns and Central Cabarrus decided to cancel their game and not make it up.
▪ In Union County, Central Academy beat Union Academy 29-6 and improved to 3-0 for the first time in school history.
Friday’s top performers
Jaret Anderson, Charlotte Catholic: 18 carries for 129 yards and three TDs in a 42-0 win over Charlotte Country Day. He added two catches for 54 yards and another score.
Cade Carney, Davidson Day: 22 carries for school-record 265 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-14 win over Providence Day.
Davis Cheek, Butler: 14-for-15 for 188 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-0 win over N.C. 3A power Western Alamance. Cheek also rushed for a score. Teammate Benny LeMay (11 carries, 92 yards, 2 TDs; 4 catches, 37 yards, TD) also had a big game.
Tyshawn Carter, Elijah Henry, Rocky River: Carter, the QB, ran 22 times for 184 yards in a 46-39 win over Sun Valley. He was 20-for-29 passing for 173 yards and three scores. Henry, the tailback, had 26 carries, 174 yards and a score.
Sam Howell, Sun Valley: Completed 15-of-30 passes for 324 yads and three TDs in Rocky River loss.
Quantavious McGill, Independence: 33 carries, 185 yards in a 10-3 win over Olympic.
Bryce Maginley, Ardrey Kell: was 8-16 for 172 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-12 win over Marvin Ridge. He also rushed six times for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
Donnavan Spencer, Vance: More than 150 yards rushing in a 28-7 win over Virginia power George Washington. Spencer had two touchdowns.
Chazz Surratt, East Lincoln: UNC commit completed 13-of-16 passes for 369 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-14 win over North Lincoln. He also had a 60-yard kickoff return for a score. Surratt hooked up with his brother, Sage, six times for 187 yards and three scores.
No. 15 Davidson Day 41, Providence Day 14: Davidson Day (3-0) found itself tied with upset-minded Providence Day at halftime, but the Patriots scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to pull away and remain unbeaten. Sam Hartman was 19-of-33 for 332 yards and three touchdowns.
West Meck 32, Garinger 10: After being blown out 56-12 by No. 2 Vance in its season-opener, West Meck has fashioned a two-game win streak. The Hawks beat West Charlotte 22-20 last week. Garinger is 0-3 and plays No. 1 Mallard Creek next week.
Charlotte Latin 62, Victory Christian 6: Latin led 51-0 at halftime and won easily. Victory got a late score when Jabari Rucker scored on a 40-yard TD pass from Hanson Richadson.
How the Sweet 16 fared
1. Mallard Creek
lost 31-29 to Byrnes SC
d. Geo. Washington, Va. 28-7
d. Western Alamance 45-0
4. Char. Catholic
d. Char. Country Day 42-0
5. South Pointe
d. York 35-21
d. Lake Norman 23-6
d. Irmo 59-0
vs. Char. Christian, Sat.
lost 49-14 to Pinecrest
10. Ardrey Kell
d. Marvin Ridge 56-12
d. Hopewell 44-20
12. Char. Christian
vs. Weddington, Sat.
13. A.L. Brown
d. NW Cabarrus 56-7
14. East Lincoln
d. North Lincoln 49-14
15. Davidson Day
d. Providence Day 41-14
16. South Mecklenburg
vs. Porter Ridge, Sat.