Concord and A.L. Brown kicked off the 2015 high school football season officially on Thursday night, playing a rivalry game that was televised statewide. Friday night brought a full slate of games throughout the Carolinas, including a top-tier matchup between South Carolina powers Northwestern of Rock Hill and Byrnes of Duncan.
But the biggest game of the weekend starts Saturday night at 8 at Memorial Stadium: Sweet 16 No. 1 Mallard Creek faces No. 3 Independence. The two teams have combined to win nine state championships in the past 15 years. Mallard Creek is ranked in most national polls and is trying to become only the second 4A team in Mecklenburg County history to three-peat as state champs.
The other? Independence.
This will be the fourth meeting between the two state powers. Independence leads the series 2-1, but Mallard Creek won the last meeting, in 2010, 26-6.
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↑Charlotte Christian’s new uniforms: Knights broke out a sweet new look courtesy of the company that former Charlotte Christian star Stephen Curry endorses (we hear the Knights’ basketball team has a new look, too).
↑Charlotte Catholic defense: Cougars shut out three-time private school state champ Charlotte Christian 5-0 and ended the Knights’ 24-game win streak against private schools, a run that dated to September 2012.
↑Weddington rally: No. 11 Warriors, down 13-0 entering the fourth quarter, scored 30 points to rally to upset No. 9 Ardrey Kell.
↑Mooresville rally: No. 10 Blue Devils, down 20-7 to archrival West Rowan, scored 21 straight and held on to win 28-26.
↑Northside Christian: Knights, who brought varsity football back this year, won their season-opener 66-14 over Fayetteville Christian. The program folded six years ago due to lack of interest.
Friday’s Top Performers
▪ Jaret Anderson, Charlotte Catholic: Senior tailback had 172 yards on 27 carries, including 103 on 17 carries in the second half. Catholic beat Charlotte Christian 5-0.
▪ Bryan Digsby, Berry: Found out he would play Monday when Berry starter Jeremy Barber was injured. Digsby was 17-for-39 for 276 yards and four scores. He ran for 35 yards and another score. He threw the game-winning touchdown pass with 23 seconds left in a wild 35-31 win over Berry.
▪ Jackson Gibbs, Hough: Gibbs is the grandson of former Super Bowl winning coach Joe Gibbs of the Washington Redskins and son of former NASCAR driver J.D. Gibbs. Friday, Jackson was 10-for-13 for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Hough beat Harding 40-6.
▪ Kingsley Ifedi, Vance: junior quarterback had an impressive varsity debut in a 54-12 win over West Meck: 20-of-32 passing for 436 yards and six touchdowns. He ran for another TD. His passing yardage is 22nd most single-game in county history. The passing TDs tie for 11th.
▪ Chazz Surratt, East Lincoln: UNC football recruit didn’t play the final nine minutes of a 49-6 win over Hunter Huss, but finished 16-of-25 for 276 yards and six touchdowns.
↑Butler’s defense: in a 44-0 win at Olympic, the Bulldogs had four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
No. 15 Providence 10, Summerville (SC) 9: The Panthers got one of the biggest wins in school history Friday, taking down the program that legendary coach John McKissick made famous. Providence got an early lead after junior defensive back Caleb Bellamy forced a fumble at the Summerville 25. Austin Kent later made a 47-yard field goal. Later, Chance Eighmy threw a 30-yard scoring pass to Blake Proehl to give the Panthers a 10-3 lead. Summerville scored with six seconds left but missed a potential tying extra point.
Davidson Day 48, Ashbrook 14: Davidson Day, which is moving up to NCISAA Division I for the playoffs this year, beat 3A Ashbrook pretty easily Friday on the road. Sophomore QB Sam Hartman had a big night as did RB Cade Carney. It was the start of a busy weekend for coach Chad Grier, who has become a weekly correspondent for the Sporting News. He flies to Los Angeles Saturday morning for meetings with his son, Nash, a buddying Hollywood star. His oldest son, Will, is a quarterback at Florida. A reality show about the family is also in the works.
Hopewell 54, Garinger 14: First-year coach Charlie Gray got a big win in his debut. Hopewell, which scored 127 points total in 2014, won its season-opener for the third straight season. Garinger, which got some coaching assistance from NFL All-Pro receiver Randy Moss in the offseason, hosts Harding next week.
South Mecklenburg 28, Marvin Ridge 17: South trailed 10-0 and 17-14 before rallying for a season-opening win under coach Rocky White.
How the Sweet 16 fared
Vs. No. 3 Independence Sat.
d. Olympic 44-0
Vs. No. 1 Mallard Creek Sat.
d. West Mecklenburg 54-12
d. No. 12 Charlotte Christian 5-0
d. Nation Ford 30-7
lost 40-31 to Byrnes, SC
d. Harding 40-6
lost to No. 11 Weddington 30-13
d. West Rowan 28-26
d. No. 9 Ardrey Kell 30-13
lost 5-0 to No. 5 Char. Catholic
d. Victory Christian 49-0
lost 24-20 to Piedmont
d. Summerville, SC 10-9
d. Hunter Huss 49-6