Talking Preps: Recruiting, transferring, Butler, Richmond and games of 9/6/19
This much became clear in a topsy-turvy kind of Friday: There’s a great separation beginning in Mecklenburg County.
Mallard Creek, Myers Park and Vance — not coincidentally the top three teams in the Observer’s Sweet 16 poll — look like they are elevating to another level and, barring injury, each looks ready and capable of making a run all the way to the state finals.
Mallard Creek and Myers Park are nationally ranked. Vance has the best defense of the three and an offense that is as good as most elite teams in the area. Truth is, Vance should be in the national rankings, too.
In two weeks, Vance has beaten a 3A Virginia state champion 35-0 and has beaten a Gastonia Huss team that was unbeaten and ranked No. 14 in the Sweet 16. Vance beat Huss 35-0 on Friday.
The Vance defense, which former Harding coach Sam Greiner proclaimed one of the best in N.C. history, is simply unrelenting.
Huss (1-1) got 81 yards of total offense Friday. It had 12 plays that netted zero yards or less.
It’s hard to not think about how Vance’s defense might do against Myers Park’s high-powered offense in the playoffs, and we’ll get to see Vance try to stop Mallard Creek’s re-energized offense in a few weeks. Those two rivals meet Sept. 27.
And although Vance and Mallard Creek have each other and have the toughest conference in the state — the I-MECK 4A — to navigate and get themselves ready for the postseason, Myers Park’s schedule doesn’t appear that it will provide much push back.
Myers Park has beaten Providence and Olympic to start the season by a combined 105-3. Marquee games against Hough (Sept. 20) and Butler (Oct. 11) don’t quite look as marquee after Friday. Hough lost 44-7 to Duncan Byrnes (S.C.) and Butler was handled 42-14 by Richmond Senior after being handled by Mallard Creek a week ago.
So the Mustangs will have to have mini-goals in games and use practice, against each other, to stay sharp. There likely will be a lot of second halves that star QB Drake Maye and star receiver Porter Rooks don’t play in, just like Friday, so you’ll have the rest-vs.-rust argument come November.
Will Myers Park’s relative freshness give it an advantage, or will its lack of challenges hurt it when that breathtaking offense doesn’t quite work as well in the cold against better competition?
Mallard Creek gets unexpected test
After playing two high-profile games against Dutch Fork (S.C.) and Butler, the Mavericks were heavy favorites going into Friday’s game at Rocky River (0-2). The Mavericks didn’t play it, though, falling behind 21-13 to a Ravens team that scored just three points against Gastonia Huss last week.
“I thought they came out and outplayed us and out-coached us a little bit,” Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri said. “I have to give them credit. Not making excuses. But the second half we came out and played our style.”
It actually started in the first half.
Down eight, Mallard Creek scored twice to take a 28-21 halftime lead. Palmieri said he didn’t say much at halftime. He said he has got a senior-dominated team.
In the end, Mallard Creek scored 50 consecutive points, quickly reminding everyone why it’s the highest-ranked team from North Carolina in the national polls and a favorite to win its first state title in four years.
“They know what’s at stake,” Palmieri said. “But you know how it is. We expect to get the best out of everyone we play. We always have to bring our A game. It’s going to be a wild season. It always is.”
Friday’s #BIG5 Top Performers
Sean Bowles, Olympic: 9-for-16 passing for 131 yards and a touchdown, plus 20 carries for 49 yards in a 29-28 win over Independence. Bowles had his team’s final rushing touchdown, plus the game-winning two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
Caleb Hood, Richmond Senior: Completed 11-of-22 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-14 rout of Butler. He ran 11 times for 142 yards and three scores.
Iwuan Jackson: West Charlotte’s dynamic running back helped the Lions rally past Harding for a 30-23 win. He finished with 143 yards, including 83 on eight second-half carries.
Dustin Noller, Mallard Creek: Senior QB threw for 290 yards and five touchdowns in a 63-21 win over Rocky River.
Porter Rooks, Drake Maye, Myers Park: In a 63-3 win over Providence, Rooks and Maye only played the first half. Rooks caught three passes for 152 yards and three scores. Maye completed 6-of-8 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns.
↑Lawndale Burns: Beat Crest 35-14 Friday, its first win over the Chargers in eight years. Burns lost 63-14 to Crest last season. Now, the Bulldogs are 2-1 after going 4-8 and 2-9 the past two years.
↑Tommy Miller, Metrolina Christian: Two defensive scores in a 38-12 win over Legion Collegiate: a 20-yard interception return and a 5-yard fumble return.
↑Statesville: Greyhounds are 3-0 after a statement 49-35 win over Alexander Central. QB Nebayne Moore threw for 237 yards and two scores and rushed for 19 yards and another TD.
↑Central Cabarrus defense: Limited Mount Pleasant to 8 rushing yards in a 45-0 win. Dajon Johnson led Central with 146 yards passing and two scores plus 33 yards rushing and another TD.
▪ I cannot honestly remember the last time Charlotte Catholic had two losses in a row. I had to look it up. It has been 10 years. But the Cougars lost to a nationally ranked team from Maryland (Our Lady of Good Counsel) last week 7-0 and to a top-10 team from Louisiana this week, falling 7-3 to Archbishop Rummel at home. Rummel scored on a pick-six with 5:30 to play.
I love that Catholic is playing elite competition as it will get it ready for the playoffs, where I still view the Cougars as the favorites in 3A. And as for the Coogs scoring three points in two weeks? A little worrisome, but they were playing stiff competition. Catholic’s off for two weeks and plays Monroe on Sept. 27. I expect we’ll see “Big Red” back to scoring then. Their defense is plenty good enough.
▪ Gotta like what Brandon Thompson is getting out of his group at Olympic. The first-year coach saw his team blitzed by Myers Park 42-0 in Week 1, but Olympic has bounced back with a 35-14 win over North Meck on Aug. 30 and a 29-28 win over Independence on Friday. After blowing a 21-0 lead, Olympic had to rally to take a 29-22 lead with a score and two-point conversion. Then, the Trojans had to stop a Patriots two-point PAT attempt to win. Olympic running back Cameron Smith called it one of the best wins of his life.
Quickie Game Stories
Charlotte Country Day 24, Hammond (SC) 21: The Bucs, the N.C. Independent Schools D2 state champ, beat the S.C. 3A state champ at home. Junior QB Russell Tabor hit Stephen Payne with a 47-yard pass for the winning points in the fourth quarter. Tabor threw for 155 yards and two scores. Quinten Cooper ran for 119 yards and a score.
Charlotte Latin 27, Catawba Ridge (SC) 7: Andrew Sumichrest had a receiving touchdown and an interception in a easy win. Latin led 21-0 after the first quarter.
Covenant Day 44, Pine Lake Prep 0: Covenant Day outgained Pine Lake 330 yards to minus-3. Edwin Barnes ran 14 times for 123 yards for the winners.
Anson Senior 42, Waxhaw Cuthbertson 13: Metrolina led 28-13 at halftime and won big, despite Cuthbertson junior QB Evan Bernard throwing for 141 yards and two scores.
Davie County 31, Mooresville 30: Davie won a close game in overtime when Nate Hampton (421 yards passing, four TDs) threw a 16-yard pass to Zaharee Maddox and then ran in a two-point conversion. Mooresville’s Hunter Deberardino threw for 274 yards and two scores, including seven passes to Keshaun Black for 133 yards and two scores.
Indian Trail Sun Valley 24, Concord 10: Sun Valley scored 21 points in the second half to pull away.
Metrolina Christian 38, Legion Collegiate 12: Metrolina jumped out to a 17-0 lead and won big. Metrolina got defensive scores from Tommy Miller (20-yard interception return, 5-yard fumble return) and Andrew Threatt (61-yard interception return).
Mountain Island Charter 47, Albemarle 6: UNC recruit Elijah Burris ran 15 times for 225 yards and two touchdowns in an easy win.