A Mallard Creek High fan who has only missed a handful of Mavericks games in the past five years texted me Wednesday night after the Mavericks whipped Harding 52-7. He said this was the best Mallard Creek team he’d ever seen.
That’s saying a lot about a school that won three straight N.C. 4AA state championships from 2013-15, and that’s saying a lot about a team that, in all honesty, relies a lot on a large group of underclassmen who will be returning next season.
Mallard Creek, No. 2 in the Observer’s Sweet 16, lost a chance to make a national statement about how good it might be when a season-opening showdown with reigning S.C. state champion Dutch Fork was called off because of weather. The Mavericks had a quiet confidence entering that game, and had the same confidence when I saw both teams take the field.
Maybe now we’re beginning to see why they felt that way.
In the off-season, coach Mike Palmieri hired former Independence High All-American quarterback D.J. McFadden to breathe life into an offense that had become run-heavy and predictable in recent years. And that’s what McFadden has done.
Mallard Creek quarterback Casey Kelly (younger brother of Denver Broncos QB Chad Kelly) threw five touchdowns in the first half Wednesday, and McFadden’s offense is averaging 55 points per game. If they keep it up, that’ll be an all-time high for points averaged at Mallard Creek. Last week McFadden’s offense scored a school-record 77 points against Berry High’s Cardinals.
“We’ve played pretty good, man,” Palmieri told me Wednesday night, in the same matter-of-fact tone he always uses. “We scored a bunch of touchdowns early and in the second half, with the running clock, we got some of the young kids in.”
But Palmieri knows that beating Harding (0-5), which played its fourth straight game without top 10 national recruit Quavaris Crouch, is not the goal at Mallard Creek.
“We’re only three games in and we have a long way to go,” Palmieri said. “I don’t want to do comparisons (with past teams at the school), but we have enough talent to compete every game and we should be fine. We’re a little bit ahead of schedule, but like I said, we’ve got a long way to go. The ceiling is high for this group, but we’ve got to keep them working and make sure they’re ready for (next week).”
Mallard Creek will play Sweet 16 No. 6 Vance Saturday, Sept. 22 at UNC Charlotte. It’s the I-MECK 4A conference opener for both teams and every league game is big. MaxPreps ranks six teams from the conference among the top 25 in North Carolina in the 4A class.
“We’re excited about it,” Palmieri said about the Vance game. “They’ll play hard. They always do. They’ve got a great team over there and they are well-coached. We’re looking forward to it.”
It’s another step toward the goal - what Palmieri hopes is a fourth state title.
↑South Pointe celebration: The Stallions rallied to beat Greenville 28-27, but not before Greenville scored on a wide receiver pass to the quarterback, a trick play, to score with no time left. Greenville missed a two-point conversion try for the win (video below). That set off a big Stallions celebration.
↑Union Academy quick strike offense: Union Academy had the ball for 14 minutes, 22 seconds of its 28-6 win over Northside Christian Wednesday. Northside, which got 107 yards rushing from Malachi Rennix, had the ball for more than 33 minutes.
↑Sam Howell’s leap: In leading his team to a 40-6 win at Olympic, Indian Trail Sun Valley QB Sam Howell jumped over a Trojans defender, turning in one of the best plays of the night. Howell is a Florida State recruit.
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Joe Ervin, Rock Hill South Pointe: 190 yards rushing on 28 carries in a 28-27 win over Greenville (S.C.).
Sam Howell, Indian Trail Sun Valley: In a 40-6 win over Olympic, Howell ran 15 times for 58 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 14 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns. Sun Valley scored 40 straight points in the final three quarters to improve to 4-0.
Will Kakavitsas, Providence: The Panthers’ receiver snagged seven passes for 171 yards and two scores, including a 75-yarder for the Panthers’ first score in a 42-21 loss to Butler.
Aaron Scott, North Mecklenburg: Completed 16-of-23 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns in a 43-24 win over Cox Mill. Receiver Justin Olsen caught five passes for 67 yards and added a 90-yard kickoff return.
Ian Williams, Weddington: Kicker had a 52-yard field goal in a 31-21 win over previously unbeaten Boiling Springs Crest. He averaged 45 yards on four punts.
Jamal Worthy, Christian Peters, Butler: Worthy, the Bulldogs’ running back, had 100 yards rushing in the first half and two touchdowns in a 42-21 win at Providence. He finished with 153 yards rushing and four scores. Peters, the Bulldogs’ quarterback, completed 8-of-14 passes for 143 yards. He threw for 106 yards in the first half.
No. 1 Hough 38, Ardrey Kell 6: Kennique Bonner-Steward threw two touchdown passes and ran for one as the Huskies improved to 4-0. Hough is outscoring opponents 44-5 this season. Ardrey Kell fell to 0-5.
No. 6 Vance 42, South Mecklenburg 7: The Cougars (4-0) warmed up for next Saturday’s showdown with Mallard Creek at UNC Charlotte by scoring 35 straight points in an easy non-conference win. Joe Morris had more than 100 yards rushing, Nigel Summerville threw three touchdown passes and receiver Nyier Clark had more than 100 yards receiving and two scores. On defense, Nate Lynn had three sacks and linebacker Power Echols had 10-plus tackles.
Independence 30, Garinger 26: The Patriots rallied several times to avoid the upset Wednesday. Garinger (1-3), trying to win twice in a season for the first time in eight years, led 26-23 to start the fourth quarter. Independence QB Luke McPhail ran for a touchdown with 11:16 to play that was the game winner. McPhail also threw a touchdown pass in the game for Independence (3-1).
West Charlotte 34, Berry 26: The Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead and held off a late Berry comeback attempt. The Lions are off to a 3-1 start under coach Josh Harris. West Charlotte has not had a winning season since 2010.
Mount Pleasant 32, East Rowan 14: Mount Pleasant scored 23 straight points in the second quarter to spark the blowout. Chance Daquila threw two touchdown passes, both to Cade McDonald in the quarter. Mount Pleasant eventually led 32-0. Daquila threw for 163 yards. Garrett Overbay ran for 74. East Rowan’s Logan Forbis threw for 225 yards and two scores.