Charlotte Observer #BIG5 football players of the week
Charlotte Latin football player Charles Watson had just finished off a block from his wide receiver position when he looked towards the sideline and noticed his teammate, junior quarterback Jake Helfrich, was still on the ground.
Just seconds later, before Watson could even process what was happening, a Charlotte Latin assistant yelled, ‘Charles go get your arm loose.’
Helfrich had come down awkwardly on a third quarter play against the Carolina Bearcats Aug. 30. Helfrich suffered a spiral fracture of the fibula in his right leg, according to Charlotte Latin coach Justin Hardin.
The meant Watson would be the next man up at quarterback.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound senior co-captain also plays safety, wide receiver and punt returner for the Hawks.
“Honestly, I didn’t have much time to think about what happened (Helfrich injury) in that moment,” said Watson, who had two touchdown passes in relief of Watson against the Carolina Bearcats. “I just wanted to come in at quarterback, finish out the game and help us get the win.”
Watson accomplished his mission as he helped finish off a 50-6 win over the Carolina Bearcats, but didn’t leave the game without sustaining an injury himself, as his bruised ribs wouldn’t allow him to throw a pass until Latin’s Thursday walk-through practice (Sept. 5) before traveling to Catawba Ridge the next day.
But while Watson was questionable to play for most of the week, he didn’t miss a beat on game day, going 21-for-34 for 263 yards passing and three touchdowns to lead Charlotte Latin (3-0) to a 27-7 win at previously unbeaten Catawba Ridge.
Watson also started at safety, making four tackles, including one for a loss.
“It’s hard to believe Charles (Watson) didn’t throw his first pass of the week until Thursday, but his ribs were really hurting on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” coach Hardin said. “Then, he comes out and has a great game Friday night (against Catawba Ridge). What Charles did against Catawba Ridge really doesn’t surprise because he is a resilient player, a team captain and the ultimate competitor who has proven he is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win games.”
Watson didn’t just overcome sore ribs in the game, but also fought off cramps in both calves after making a tackle in the third quarter. He didn’t miss an offensive snap the entire game.
“My mom actually told me earlier in the week that if I was hurt to come out of the game,” Watson said. “But I knew I wasn’t coming out of that game. When I got the cramps, the trainers did a great job of get me hydrated and I was fine. I never even thought about coming out of the game, because I knew the team needed me.”
While Watson got plenty of support from his Charlotte Latin teammates on the field, he also got a lot of help from the Hawks’ quarterbacks’ coach, former Weddington High and Duke University star (quarterback), Anthony Boone.
Watson said Boone gave him a lot of confidence with a pregame pep talk, telling him “to focus on playing his role on the team, while getting the ball in the playmaker’s hands.”
With his first start as Charlotte Latin quarterback behind him, Watson is ready to make the most of his opportunity.
“(The way I’ve played) definitely gives me confidence, but it also raises the expectations,” said Watson, who also plays second base/shortstop for the Charlotte Latin baseball team and is hoping to gain the interest of college baseball and football coaches in his final high school season. “I don’t think anyone expected us to come out and do what we did with the backup quarterback.
Now, I’m excited to prove I can play even better and help this team compete for a (state) championship.”
Caleb Hood, Richmond Senior Football: The Richmond Senior junior quarterback accounted for 315 yards and five touchdowns to help the Raiders to a 42-14 win over Butler Sept. 6.
Hood rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries, while passing for 155 yards and two more scores in the Butler victory. Hood has 216 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 23 carries this year, while passing for 480 yards and seven more scores.
Hood has offers from Appalachian State, Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest, according to Richmond Senior coach Bryan Till.
Dustin Noller, Mallard Creek Football: The Mallard Creek senior quarterback also had a big game through the air, going 14-of-23 for 327 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Mavericks to a 63-21 win at Rocky River.
Noller found teammate, junior wide receiver Elijah Metcalf, eight times for 158 yards and three touchdowns.
Noller is 54-of-88 for 784 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
Austin Setzer, Burns Football: The Burns senior strong safety had 15 tackles, including two tackles for a loss and one interception in the Bulldogs’ 35-14 win over Crest Sept. 6.
Setzer also caught a two-point conversion pass in the same game.
Setzer has 38 tackles, five tackles for loss, three interceptions, one sack and one forced fumble for Burns (2-1) this season.
Javier Ortiz, Concord Soccer: The Concord junior center back had led the Spiders’ defense to five straight shutouts, including three last week.
Ortiz helped the Concord defense to three shutouts in three days, blanking Statesville 2-0 at home (Sept. 3), East Rowan 9-0 on the road (Sept. 4) and Forest Hill 2-0 at home (Sept. 5), allowing only seven shots in that same span.
The Spiders are still unbeaten this season at 6-0-2, having outscored their opponents 34-4.
Edwin Lopez, Porter Ridge Soccer: The Porter Ridge senior forward had the game-winning goal in wins over both Richmond Senior and Marvin Ridge on back-to-back nights last week.
Lopez started his week with game-clinching goal in a 3-0 at Richmond Senior Sept. 3.
The next night, he scored the game-deciding goal in a 2-0 win over previously, unbeaten Marvin Ridge.
Lopez has five goals and one assists for a Porter Ridge (5-1) team that has won five straight games.
Jack Heath, Charlotte Catholic: golfer who won the U.S. Junior PGA title this summer, will play for the U.S. Junior President’s Cup team Dec. 8-9 against an international field in Melbourne, Australia. Heath will play on a 12-man American team, which was determined by Rolex American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) rankings. A 12-man international team was based on World Amateur Ranking.
Carter Holt, Hickory Soccer: The Hickory junior forward score four goals and had three assists in wins over Newton Conover and North Gaston last week.
Holt opened his week with a hat trick (three goals) and two assists in an 8-0 victory over North Gaston, Sept. 3.
Two days later, Holt scored a goal and had an assist in 3-0 win over previously unbeaten Newton Conover.
Holt leads the Red Tornadoes (4-2-2) with eight goals and nine assists this season.
Mason Thomas, Northwestern Cross Country: The Northwestern junior ran a personal-best 16:19.76 to finish as runner-up individually, while leading his Trojan team to victory at the Trojan Invitational on his home course, Sept. 7.
Thomas, who beat his previous personal best by 18 seconds at the Trojan Invitational, was also runner-up at the Providence Invitational (boys’ invitational race), Aug. 24.
Maddon Muhammad, Myers Park Cross Country: The Mustangs’ junior won the Myers Park Cross Country Invitational, running a 17:36.96 in the first 5K he has run in a high school meet.
Muhammad, who won the Myers Park Invitational by 26 seconds, also led his Mustangs’ team to victory at the same meet.
Muhammad is the son of former Carolina Panthers’ wide receiver, Muhsin Muhammad, and younger brother of current Myers Park football standout Muhsin Muhammad III.
Charlotte Observer Girls’ Athletes of the Week
Riya Vasa, Weddington Tennis: The Weddington senior was perfect in two big Warriors’ wins at Marvin Ridge and at Charlotte Country Day last week.
Vasa, who plays No. 1 singles, played a critical role in Weddington 5-4 win at Marvin Ridge, beating the Mavericks’ No. 1 player Shivani Kotikalapudi 6-1, 7-5 to help clinch the victory. Vasa also teamed with her partner Maddy Wasulko to win in doubles in the same match Sept. 3.
Vasa also won in both singles and doubles in a 9-0 win over Charlotte Country Day Sept. 4
Vasa is 6-2 in singles’ play and 4-2 in doubles for Weddington (8-1, 5-1 in the Southern Carolinas’ conference (SCC)) this season.
Sophie Imhof, Marvin Ridge Tennis: The Marvin Ridge senior is a perfect 5-0 in both singles’ and doubles’ play (10-0 overall) this season.
Imhof won all three singles and all three doubles’ matches last week to lead Marvin Ridge past South Mecklenburg and Sun Valley, while dropping a 5-4 heartbreaker to rival, Weddington.
Marvin Ridge is 6-2 overall this season, including 4-1 in SCC play.
Ivanah Johnson, Northwestern Tennis: The eighth-grader won the first two singles’ matches of her high school career on back-to-back days last week.
Johnson attends Dutchman Creek Middle School but competes for the Northwestern (SC) High tennis team at No. 3 singles.
Johnson started her week with a 6-0, 6-1 win over South Pointe’s Emily Hyslop to help the Trojans to a 6-0 victory Sept. 4.
The next day, Johnson helped Northwestern to a 5-1 win over York with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over York’s Anthonella Mendoza.
Johnson is 2-2 in singles’ play for Northwestern (3-1) this season.
Cora Cooke, Myers Park Cross Country: The Mustangs’ junior won ran a 19:31.84 to win the Myers Park Cross Country Invitational on her home Sept. 7.
Cooke beat the field by more than 33 seconds (at Myers Park), while also leading the Myers Park girls’ team to team victory in the same race.
Mary Schleusner, Charlotte Latin Cross Country: The Charlotte Latin sophomore ran personal-best 19:54.66 to win the Trojan Invitational at Northwestern (SC) individually, while also leading her Hawks’ team to victory (in tie-breaker with Spartanburg) in the same meet, Sept. 7.
Schleusner’s Trojan Invitational time was nearly 25 seconds better than per previous personal-record, according to Latin cross country coach, Mike Weiss.
Ava Douglas, Cox Mill Volleyball: The Cox Mill junior setter had 93 assists, nine kills, nine aces and four blocks combined in the Chargers’ (6-2) three wins over Jay M. Robinson, North Mecklenburg and Concord last week.
Douglas had her best match of the week in a 3-0 sweep of Concord, where she recorded 35 assists, four kills, five aces and two blocks Sept. 5.
Savannah McIntosh, Porter Ridge Volleyball: The Porter Ridge junior setter led the Pirates to back-to-back Southwestern 4A (SW4A) conference wins over East Mecklenburg and Butler last week.
McIntosh had 13 assists, 11 digs and two aces in a 3-0 sweep of East Mecklenburg Sept. 3.
Two days later, she posted 24 assists, 11 digs and two aces in a 3-0 victory at Butler.
McIntosh has 106 assists, 49 digs and 25 aces for Porter Ridge (5-1, 2-0 in the SW4A) this season.
Sarah Perkinson, Myers Park Field Hockey: The Myers Park senior forward scored the go-ahead goal with less than five minutes left in the game to lead the Mustangs past Charlotte Country Day, 3-1, Sept. 4.
Myers Park lost 1-0 at Charlotte Country Day Aug. 23.
Perkinson also netted two goals and had one assist in a 10-0 win at South Mecklenburg Sept. 3.
Perkinson leads Myers Park (6-1) with eight goals and six assists this season.
Erica Boyd, Providence Golf: The Providence senior shot a one-under par, 35, to earn medalist honors while leading her Panthers’ team to victory over Butler at Pine Lake Country Club, Sept. 6.
Boyd, who had four birdies in nine holes against Butler, is also ranked No. 50 in the state in junior golf, according to the Tarheel Youth Golf Association (TYGA).
** Information published today includes statistics through September 1.
Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school players with outstanding performances. 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 email@example.com. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.