Mallard Creek High School will honor one of its all-time greatest athletes at halftime of Friday’s boys basketball game.
The Mavericks will celebreate former quarterback Marquise Williams, who played at Mallard Creek and later at North Carolina.
In high school, Williams was a Parade, SuperPrep and Tom Lemming All-American. Rivals.com rated him the No. 9 dual threat QB in the nation. As a senior he threw for 3,034 yards and 45 touchdowns and he rushed for 1,147 yards and 19 scores.
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With the Tar Heels, Williams played four seasons and started 33 games. He helped North Carolina win an ACC Coastal Division championship in 2015, and he owns more than 20 school records. He had 99 total touchdowns in his career.
Following his senior season in Chapel Hill, Williams signed with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers but was cut prior to the start of the 2016 season. Williams signed with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders for the 2017 season. He dressed for eight regular-season games as the backup quarterback before placed on the six-game injured list.
On Friday, Mallard Creek school officials will present him with a framed CFL jersey and a special gift.
Football: Rivals final 2018 N.C. rankings released
Rivals released its final 2018 N.C. football rankings. No. 1 is Scotland County running back Zamir White, headed to Georgia.
Among Observer-area players: No. 3 Rick Sandidge, Concord DT (undecided); No. 6 Dyami Brown, West Mecklenburg WR (UNC); No. 9 Dax Hollifield, Shelby LB (undecided); No. 14 Jordan Davis, Mallard Creek DT (Georgia); No. 15 Jovaughn Gwan, Harding OG (South Carolina); No. 21 Justus Woods, Charlotte Christian RB (Stanford); No. 34 CJ Johnson, Mallard Creek DT (undecided); No. 36 Malik Dunlap, Harding S (NC State); No. 37 Jarett Garner, Harrisburg Hickory Ridge WR (Duke); No. 38 Gerald Nathan, Vance OLB (Missouri); No. 42 Elijiah Brown, Providence Day DT (Duke); No. 46 Jack Carter, Hough OT (Princeton)
▪ Statesville Christian football coach Angelo Cox announced his retirement this week. He plans to watch his oldest son, Cody, play basketball and his younger son, Canaan, who will play football at South Dakota.
“It’s just the right time to give back to family,” he said, “after so much time has been sacrificed for other families and the football program.”
Cox plans to move to Columbia where he be director of operations for two Chick-Fil-A restaurants.
Cox was 23-12 in three seasons at Statesville Christian. He led the team to the 2016 state championship.
Field Hockey: Latin coach wins statewide award
Charlotte Latin coach Deb Savino was named Max Field Hockey N.C. coach of the year. Savino led the Hawks to a 20-0 record and a third straight NCISAA state title. Savino has won five state titles at Latin and guided two teams to undefeated seasons.
Her 2017 Hawks were the No. 1 ranked team in North Carolina and No. 7 in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Swimming: CMS conference championships Friday, notes
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools conference championships for Southwestern and I-MECK 4A are scheduled for Friday. The meet begin at the Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatic Center at 4 p.m. Friday.
▪ Monroe Central Academy won its second straight Rocky River swim championship Thursday....South Iredell won boys and girls North Piedmont conference titles....South Caldwell’s boys and St. Stephens girls won the Northwestern 3A/4A meets.
Wrestling: Butler honors coach Billy Puckett Thursday
Thursday night was longtime Mecklenburg County wrestling coach Billy Puckett’s final home regular-season match and several former wrestlers came to honor him.
"For me, it’s always been about the kids," said Puckett, who wrestled at Independence High and Auburn University. "My number one focus is helping them achieve things in wrestling and in life that that wouldn’t have otherwise accomplished. I love the kids who win state championships and go wrestle in college, but I love the kid who came to high school and couldn’t walk and chew bubble gum, and by the time he leaves he wins a conference championship or places. That’s what coaching is all about."
While Puckett still has the postseason to coach in, including conference, regionals and states, he admitted before his final home match that the night will be emotional.
"I’m trying to thing about this (final regular season match) as just another match," said Puckett, noting the hundreds of wrestlers he has coached are like family, as he still close with many of his wrestlers today. ‘But I know it’s going to be emotional, and right now I have a lot of mixed emotions about it. But in the end I know it’s going to special to me, something I will never forget."
Billy Puckett has won more than 500 matches in his 40-year career as the head wrestling coach at West Mecklenburg (1978-1989), Independence (1989-2004) and Butler (2004-2018).
Puckett, a 2012 National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee, has also won 25 conference titles, two regional championships, two regional runner-ups, two state runner-ups in that span.
The 10-time Mecklenburg coach of the year, Puckett has had 42 state placers (top six at states), eight individual state champions and two All-Americans (both his nephews, Tom and Pete Puckett) in his tenure.
▪ Mooresville won the I-Meck 4A conference championship this week.
Basketball: Field ties school coaching record
Providence Day boys basketball coach Brian Field has 222 career wins heading into Friday’s road game at rival Charlotte Latin.
That ties the school’s all-time boys record, set by David Carrier. Carrier coached 11 seasons and was Field’s seventh grade coach. Field is in his 12th season at Providence Day.
▪ Field has built a reputation for putting together tough national schedules for his team. This year, MaxPreps ranks Providence Day’s schedule the 14th toughest in America. The Chargers are 20-9. That ranking doesn’t include three games against Chinese national professional teams at U.S./Chinese event in Beijing last December.
▪ Former Butler/Charlotte Christian star Matthew Fisher-Davis, a senior at Vanderbilt, had his career ended prematurely after a shoulder injury.
Fisher-Davis suffered a torn labrum and right shoulder subluxation in a 74-67 loss to Kentucky Jan. 13. He’ll need season-ending surgery with a six-month recovery period. Fisher-Davis was averaging 12 points and five rebounds this season.
▪ Gaston Day boys basketball star Nate Hinton scored his 2,000th career point last week. Hinton, a 6-foot-6 senior guard, is a top 100 national recruit signed to Houston.
▪ Fort Mill Comenius senior Erin Cepeda had a quadruple double in this week’s 71-46 win over Arborbrook: 24 points, 14 steals, 13 rebounds, 11 assists and three blocks.
▪ N.C. scout Justin Byerly will host a showcase for high school basketball players aspiring to play in college. The showcase is March 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cox Mill. Click here for more information.
Central Cabarrus cheerleaders recently won a team honor
Jay Edwards Winter Sports Athletes of the Week
Boys’ Athletes of the Week
Devon Dotson/Trey Wertz, Providence Day Basketball: Devon Dotson and Trey Wertz have accomplished a lot as Providence Day’s all-state backcourt duo the past three seasons.
Dotson and Wertz have not only won numerous individual accolades, but they have also been a part of 71 Providence Day victories and counting in that same span (through Jan. 21), including the 2016 NCISAA state championship and a run to the NCISAA 3A 2017 semifinals.
Dotson has signed with Kansas, while Wertz signed with Santa Clara University.
But after all of their accomplishments -- which include becoming the first NC team to win the Hoodies House national division and a Chick-Fil-A championship -- Dotson and Wertz, had one of their best weeks this past week (Jan. 15-20).
Dotson got started with 23 points, five rebounds and five assists in tough loss to nationally ranked Long Island Lutheran in the Big Apple Invitational in New York City, Jan. 15. Wertz, tallied 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, had four assists in the same contest, winning the Sportsmanship Award and Academic Award for the game.
A little more than 24 hours later, Dotson and Wertz were back on the court in Charlotte to take on CISAA rival Covenant Day, where both had historic accomplishments.
Dotson posted 37 points 10 rebounds and seven assists just hours after learning he has named to the prestigious McDonald’s All-American team. He is the fouth Charlotte player to earn the honor, joining West Charlotte’s Jeff McInnis and Kennedy Meeks and Providence’s Antawn Jamison (all also former University of North Carolina standouts).
Wertz scored 15 points in the 81-63 victory over Covenant Day, including the 1,500th points of his Charger career. He and Dotson are among a handful of players in school history to pass the milestone.
Both players capped their week in style in an 80-70 victory at Cannon School, Jan. 20 with Dotson notching 34 points, 14 rebounds and four assists, while Wertz scored 21 points (18 in the 2nd half), had six rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
"I am spoiled as a coach having such a great tandem in the backcourt," Field said. "Both of them have such a high level understanding of the game and know how to control the tempo. Down the stretch in close games, I can count on them to get the ball in against pressure and not just handle the ball, but make the right decisions. Both of them love to take the high pressure shots and they play so well and unselfishly together. I feel very fortunate to have gotten to coach not just two great basketball players, but two great young men as well."
Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Former Providence Day Soccer: The former all-state, Providence Day defender was the No. 2 pick overall (1st round) selection by the L.A. Galaxy in Major League Soccer’s (MLS) SuperDraft, Jan. 19 in Philadelphia.
Hilliard-Arce, 22, was a two-time All-American and PAC 12 defensive player of the year at Stanford University, who he helped win their third straight, NCAA national championships (2015, 2016, 2017) in December.
Blake Preston, Charlotte Christian Basketball: The 6-foot-10, Charlotte Christian center had a monster week, averaging 16.3 points, 13.6 rebounds and 6.6 blocks per game as the Knights beat Cannon School and Charlotte Latin to remain in first place in the CISAA conference.
Preston, a Liberty University signee, had his best two games against conference foes with 17 rebounds, 23 rebounds and five blocks in the 80-59 win over Cannon School, Jan. 16. Three nights later, he nearly posted a triple double with 12 points, eight rebounds and 11 blocks in a 74-36 win over Charlotte Latin.
Andrew Capul, Marvin Ridge Wrestling: The Marvin Ridge senior ran his record to 34-1 on the season, winning the 152-pound title at King of Kings’ Wrestling Tournament at Olympic, Jan. 13.
Capul, a senior co-captain, also won tournament titles this season at the Rumble at the Ridge, where he was most outstanding wrestler, and the USMC Clash at the Creek.
Doug Dracon, Weddington Track: The Weddington senior ran the state’s fastest 300-meter dash so far this indoor season, posting a personal-best 34.49 to win the event at the Warriors’ home meet, Jan. 16.
Dracon is a perfect 4-for-4 in the 300-meter dash this season, with wins at the Providence Polar Bear (Jan. 10), Spartan Classic (Dec. 18) and the Weddington Polar Bear (Dec. 6), already this season.
Girls’ Athletes of the Week
Taylor Rowland, Cox Mill Volleyball: The Cox Mill senior was named N.C. Gatorade volleyball player of the year for the 2nd straight year, Jan. 16.
Rowland graduated early from Cox Mill in December and is already enrolled at classes at Auburn University, where she continues her academic and athletic career.
The 6-foot-3, outside hitter, led Cox Mill to the 3A state quarterfinals in her senior year with 520 kills, 227 digs and 55 aces.
Rowland also helped Cox Mill to a perfect 34-0 record and a 3A state championship in 2016.
She finished her Chargers’ career with 1,837 kills, 632 digs, 205 aces and 86 blocks.
Claudia Dickey, Charlotte Latin Girls’ Basketball: The Charlotte Latin senior is used to accomplishing big things on the soccer field as the all-state goalkeeper, University of North Carolina signee is also on the U19 U.S. Women’s National team.
This week, Dickey has a week to remember on the basketball court, starting with a near triple-double, posting 20 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists, in a 59-45 win at Forsyth Country Day, Jan. 16
Dickey followed that up with 11 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and two steals in a 51-23 win at Charlotte Christian, where she also notched her 1,000-career point.
Dickey, who averages 15 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 3.1 steals per game now has 1,008 points, 566 rebounds, 440 assists, 312 steals, 73 blocked shots in her Latin basketball career (as of Jan. 21).
Dickey will make the switch from the hardwood to the soccer field in about a month, where she will try to help lead the Charlotte Latin girls’ soccer team to their fourth straight, NCISAA 3A state championship.
Rikoya Anderson, Rock Hill Girls’ Basketball: The 5-foot-11, Rock Hill senior forward also had a big week, averaging 21 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals and three assists in two Bearcats’ victories.
Anderson, a Winthrop University signee, had 22 points, 13 rebounds and four steals in a 63-35 win over West Charlotte, Jan. 13, in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day tournament at Johnson C. Smith.
Three days later, she poured in 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and nabbed four steals to lead Rock Hill (13-3, 1-1) past Fairfield Central, 81-30.
Anderson averages a double-double this season, posting 18.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 2.8 assists per contest.
Katherine Epler, Concord Swimming: The Concord senior broke a 13-year old school record in 200 freestyle, swimming a personal best 1:59.87) to win the event at the South Piedmont conference (SPC) championships, Jan. 20. Her time was also a conference record (since 2013).
Epler also helped lead the Spiders’ 400 freestyle relay to a SPC title, breaking a five-year-old SPC mark.
Epler, who also finished second in the 100 butterfly at the same meet, is the twin sister of all-state Concord swimmer, Robbie Epler. Robbie won both the 200 freestyle (setting SPC record) and 100 butterfly events at the SPC championships.
Robbie Epler, a University of South Carolina signee, is a two-time 3A state individual champion and holds Concord school records in four different events (100 and 200 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle relay).
Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school athletes with outstanding performances. Information published today includes statistics through Jan. 21. The goal is to recognize all athletes in all sports, both the most accomplished and the underrated or underappreciated players. If you want to suggest someone to be included in the Athletes of the week column, send email to Jay Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.