High School Sports

Will Panthers’ stadium host a big high school football game to kick off season?

Riding with Recruits: Trent Simpson of Mallard Creek High

Mallard Creek High's Trent Simpson talks about the transition from running back to linebacker on Riding with Recruits. Recorded on Tuesday, March 19, 2019.
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Mallard Creek High's Trent Simpson talks about the transition from running back to linebacker on Riding with Recruits. Recorded on Tuesday, March 19, 2019.

A highly anticipated high school football game between Mallard Creek and South Carolina power Dutch Fork will not be played at Bank of America Stadium in uptown Charlotte.

Dutch Fork head coach Tom Knotts told the Observer on Tuesday that the game “will 100 percent be at Dutch Fork.”

The teams had been in discussions with Carolina Panthers officials about playing the game at the stadium on Friday, Aug. 23. The game, which will be played at the Columbia-area high school, will be televised nationally on ESPN2 and kickoff at 6 p.m., Knotts said.

Dutch Fork is the home team and ultimately had the final call on the site.

“Bank of America is so big,” Knotts said, “and I just felt like playing in that stadium would be too overwhelming and too big and too much of a hassle. We have a great high school stadium. Mallard Creek will enjoy our place. It’ll be a full house. About the only thing bad about it is the early start (for TV). Columbia is like Charlotte, it’s notoriously bad for traffic and people being late.”

With Mallard Creek being the official “away” team, playing an out-of-state opponent, that will allow the Mavericks to skirt a N.C. High School Athletic Association mandate that its teams not play regular-season games that are televised live.

This is the second-straight year the teams are scheduled to kick off the season against each other.

Last fall, the game at Charlotte’s Memorial Stadium never started due to inclement weather.

Dutch Fork went on to win its third straight S.C. Class 5A title. This year, the team will feature quarterback Ty Olenchuk and wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, a Virginia Tech recruit. Olenchuk is a Clemson baseball commit who threw for 3,804 yards and 42 TDs last season.

Mallard Creek has won three state championships in the past six seasons. The Mavericks were 10-1 last season and will feature outside linebacker/running back Trenton Simpson, a top-five, in-state recruit in the class of 2020.

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