High School Sports

Mallard Creek football enjoys preseason top 10 national ranking

jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

After winning its second straight N.C. 4AA state championship in December, Mallard Creek may be returning the best team in school history.

Mavericks coach Mike Palmieri, who was named N.C. Associated Press coach of the year in 2014, took his team back to a second straight title after graduating 36 seniors and what amounted to 18 starters from the school’s first state champ in 2013.

This season, the Mavericks return the bulk of the starters from the 2014 team and will begin the year ranked No. 8 in MaxPreps’ national poll.

The team will be led by QB James Smith, the reigning Charlotte Observer offensive player of the year. Smith threw for 3,357 yards and 35 touchdowns last season. He rushed for 1,350 yards and 25 more scores. Running back Chancery Bowman and receiver Javon Harbison are also back along three starting offensive linemen -- Grant Gibson, Eric Douglas and De’jour Simpson. T.J. Moore, a 6-6 junior, will join that group.

Former Victory Christian all-state star Thad Moss will join the Mavericks to play tight end. Moss is the son of NFL all-pro Randy Moss.

On defense, the Mavericks will be led by 6-4 Florida State recruit Josh Brown.

2015 Mallard Creek football schedule

A22 vs. Independence at Memorial Stadium (Saturday)

A28 Butler

S4 at Byrnes (SC)

S11 Garinger

S18 McDonough (MD)

S25 at West Charlotte

O2 at Hopewell

O9 Hough

O16 at Vance

O23 A.L. Brown

O30 BYE

N6 North Mecklenburg

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