As Myers Park has obliterated its first six opponents, winning by more than 50 points per game, high school football fans, or at least some of them, have said the Mustangs have been fattening up on weak competition.
After Friday’s 31-13 win against an impressive Butler High team, you wonder how the conversation will shift.
Butler — while not exactly the team that won three state titles since 2009 and was recently named N.C. Team of the Decade by MaxPreps — is still well-coached and strong. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to play the Bulldogs in the first couple of weeks of the playoffs.
In running back Jamal Worthy, Butler has a game-breaking star, and when QB Parish Metzger returns from injury (he didn’t play Friday), the Bulldogs are going to be even better.
Still, Myers Park finally showed it had a run game. Senior Tim Newman barreled into the Butler defense for positive gains, and QB Drake Maye proved he could look just as good against Butler as he had against everyone else: nearly 300 yards passing plus two TDs and a rushing score. He has not thrown an interception this season.
“This was the first time we have faced adversity this season,” Myers Park coach Scott Chadwick said. “I was really proud how we responded. You really don’t know how a team is going to respond until you have to do it.”
Myers Park’s starters hadn’t played much of any fourth quarter this season and was able to come up with a crucial, championship-type drive, in the final period Friday.
This is what happened: Worthy ran a direct snap 11 yards in for a score. That cut Myers Park’s lead to 21-13. But the Mustangs responded with a long, withering drive that ended at the Butler 6.
Myers Park didn’t get a touchdown, but still made a statement, getting a short field goal from Matthew Dennis and a 24-13 lead that was enough. Though Myers Park tacked on a score after a shanked Butler punt gave the Mustangs great field position, that drive was what sealed the game.
Myers Park was not shaky in the clutch.
That drive ended Myers Park’s 20-year losing streak to Butler in the regular season. It gave the Mustangs their first 7-0 start since 1983, and it might just be the thing that makes Myers Park truly believe it can play with the big boys and win the school’s first football state championship in December.
▪ In private school, Providence Day was seen as one of the state title favorites with Charlotte Christian. No one saw Charlotte Latin coming. But the Hawks got a game-winning touchdown catch from sophomore Daniel Haughton on Friday and beat Providence Day 17-14.
Latin is 7-0 under second-year coach Justin Hardin and outscoring opponents 33-7. Hardin was 6-5 in his first season in 2018 but is rolling now. This is the school’s best start since the 2016 Hawks went undefeated at 12-0 and won a state title under legendary coach Larry McNulty.
▪ Charlotte Catholic, which beat Sun Valley 20-0 Friday, appears to really be missing former offensive line coach Frank Garcia, the former Panther who stepped away after some legal issues earlier this year. Catholic is a run heavy offense and Garcia was good at figuring out blocking schemes to deal with the 9-man defensive fronts the Cougars often see.
Now? Catholic (3-3) is scoring the fewest points it has since 1997, but the Cougars defense has only allowed two teams to score more than seven, and that includes national powers Our Lady of Good Counsel (MD) and Archbishop Rummel (LA). So if last week’s 45-0 loss to Weddington is an outlier, and it looks like the Cougars picked a bad night to have a bad night -- against a determined, talented team that looks like the favorite to win a repeat 3AA title -- then Catholic will still have a shot a 3-peat in 3A.
▪ There is no doubt that Weddington is the best class 3A team in North Carolina. The Warriors walloped Charlotte Catholic last week and probably didn’t like being ranked No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press statewide poll behind Kings Mountain. Kings Mountain lost Friday; the Warriors should move up.
They deserve it. Weddington has shut out three teams in a row and four of its last five. The Warriors have allowed seven points, total, since playing on Aug. 30.
↑Hopewell: Last month, the Titans ended a 34-game losing streak under second-year coach Jamelle Byrd. Friday, Hopewell won the “Shield Game” against arch rival North Mecklenburg for the first time in six years. Hopewell, which won 37-30, is 3-4 with the most wins since 2013.
↑West Stanly: The Colts beat Marshville Forest Hills 49-21 on Friday and are 6-0 for the first time ever.
↑Independence: After Friday’s 32-18 win over Indian Trail Porter Ridge, the Patriots have won two straight and are 4-3. Independence, under third-year coach Mike Natoli, is on pace for its first winning season since 2015. Next week’s Butler rivalry game hasn’t felt “big” in years. It does now.
↑Gastonia Huss defense: In a 20-16 upset of Sweet 16 No. 6 Kings Mountain, unranked Huss stopped the Mountaineers twice inside its 10 yard line, allowing no points. Kings Mountain got 242 yards total offense, but nearly 200 less than its average.
Friday’s #BIG5 Top Performers
Jacob Brackett, Gastonia Huss: Senior defensive back came off the bench to intercept two passes, including a fourth-quarter pick that stopped a potential game-winning drive in a 20-16 win over No. 6 Kings Mountain.
Jalen Houston, Cayleb Brawley, West Rowan: Sixteen carries, 234 yards, three touchdowns for Houston, a senior, in a 31-7 win over East Rowan. Brawley, a sophomore, ran 33 times for 206 yards and a score.
Jared Joseph, Ardrey Kell: Threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-14 win over West Mecklenburg. He also ran for a score.
Jah Overby, Garinger: Helped Garinger shut down East Meck in a 18-14 win. He scored a big touchdown, that shifted momentum, when he intercepted a pitch and raced 59 yards for a fourth-quarter score that got his team within two points. Garinger ended a six-game losing streak.
Jonathan Whitmore, Mallard Creek: Defensive lineman had three sacks in the first half of a 36-0 win over West Charlotte.