When he was growing up, Parker Moorer would go watch Mallard Creek play and imagine himself putting on the wine-and-navy uniform, winning state championships for the Mavericks.
To him, the Mavericks might as well have been an NFL team, and he couldn’t wait for his chance.
“They have so many big-time names out here,” said Moorer, now the 6-foot-5, 290-pound centerpiece of the 2018 Mallard Creek team. “Guys like (former all-state quarterback) LJ Smith and (former all-state lineman) D.J. Humphries (now with the Arizona Cardinals), they started this and I wanted to make sure I could continue it. To keep the chain rolling.”
Moorer has played on varsity since his sophomore year in 2016. As a junior, he became an anchor on the offensive line, eventually receiving 11 Division I offers. Moorer had originally committed to Maryland. He de-committed Saturday, but said he is committed to leaving a legacy at the school he grew up dreaming of playing for.
“It’s about his leadership,” Mavericks coach Mike Palmieri said. “He’s a kid that needs to be a great player on the field and a great player off the field. He’s a great student. It’s what our program is about, kids like Parker, that come out here and work hard every day and don’t complain about anything and understand that it’s bigger than him.”
Moorer is one of a dozen starters returning from last season’s 14-1 team. Mallard Creek is also adding some new faces:
▪ Running back Charles Mincy, a running back from California who 247 Sports ranks as the No. 25 prospect in North Carolina. Mincy has offers from schools such as Colorado, Louisville and Oregon State.
▪ Former Concord First Assembly all-state running back/receiver Nick Treco has an Old Dominion scholarship offer; and he’ll be joined by former Newton-Conover receiver/defensive back Shemar Baker and Providence defensive back Kendren Smith, who was an Observer All-Mecklenburg pick last season.
▪ The Mavericks, who return senior quarterback Jadyn Washington, have also added 3-star New York transfer, quarterback Casey Kelly, the brother of Denver Broncos QB Chad Kelly and the nephew of Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly.
So there’s plenty of talent, but one of the biggest offseason additions is new offensive coordinator DJ McFadden, a two-time all-state pick and two-time state championship quarterback at Independence High.
McFadden will be charged with reviving an offense that averaged 46 points per game from 2010-15, when the Mavericks won three N.C. 4AA state championships, but has averaged 30.9 points in the past two seasons.
Mallard Creek scored nine points in a 2017 N.C. 4AA quarterfinal win over Greensboro Page and was shut out by Wake Forest in the state championship last season.
“DJ’s got a lot of great ideas and the kids love playing for him,” Palmieri said. “I think we’ll be able to push the ball downfield, get into more formations and be less predictable.”
Palmieri said to do that, returning linemen like Kentrel Shaw (6-0, 295) and Moorer will have to open holes and provide extra protection.
Moorer said he’s more than up to the task.
He said the whole team is.
“We’re more focused than last year,” Moorer said. “Last year, we had some kinks and injuries that killed us and hopefully we can change this thing around.”
So, the kid who grew up dreaming of playing at Mallard Creek hopes to leave Mallard Creek a championship to remember him by. And he likes his chances.
“I want to be the greatest to ever do it,” he said, “and have a name at this program so I can come back and the coaches love me and my family loves me, and I’ll make sure I put in the effort so people can respect me. I don’t want to cheat this. I don’t want to cheat this opportunity.”
Editor’s Note: The Observer is previewing all 16 teams in its preseason Sweet 16 poll. The order will be revealed before the season kicks off Aug. 15.
Mallard Creek Mavericks
Head Coach: Mike Palmieri (12th season)
2017 Record: 14-1 (7-0 to win the I-Meck 4A conference).
2018 Conference: I-Meck 4A conference/4AA.
Key Returnees: Trent Simpson, Sr., RB (6-2, 220); Parker Moorer, Sr., OL (6-5, 280); Katrel Shaw, Sr., OL (6-0, 295); Jadyn Washington, Sr., QB (6-1, 175); Jacob Roberts, Sr., LB/SS (6-1, 215); Noah Kyei, Sr., DT/DE (6-2, 285); Adonis Henderson, Sr., DB (6-1, 175); Caleb Bryant, Sr., DE/LB (6-3, 221); Demonte Furman, So., WR (5-7, 155)
Outlook: The Mavericks, who lost last season in the N.C. 4AA state finals for the first time, return an experienced team that is bolstered by several transfers, such as QB Casey Kelly, the brother of Denver Broncos QB Chad Kelly. College talent is everywhere, including tailback Trent Simpson, who has offers from Charlotte, North Carolina and South Carolina, among others. The Mavericks are primed for a return to the title game.