High School Sports

Mallard Creek’s Thaddeus Moss doesn’t do interviews, but he does make big plays

Mallard Creek tight end Thaddeus Moss celebrates a touchdown pass from quarterback James Smith last month against Butler. Saturday, the Mavericks will play Greensboro Page for the N.C. 4AA football championship.
Mallard Creek tight end Thaddeus Moss celebrates a touchdown pass from quarterback James Smith last month against Butler. Saturday, the Mavericks will play Greensboro Page for the N.C. 4AA football championship. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Mallard Creek senior tight end Thaddeus Moss doesn’t do media interviews, but opposing coaches and teammates have plenty to say about him.

Moss and Mallard Creek (13-2) will play Greensboro Page (13-2) in Saturday’s N.C. 4AA championship at N.C. State. The Mavericks are aiming for their third consecutive state championship.

“He’s turned out to be a tenacious, aggressive football player,” Vance coach Aaron Brand said of Moss. “He plays with an edge. He knows football. You can tell by watching his film.

“When we played them, he ended up near our sideline a lot and I found myself watching him and being a fan. He kept making plays on us. He’s a really good player.”

Moss, son of former NFL All-Pro receiver Randy Moss, is 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. ESPN considers him a four-star recruit (out of five) nationally and rates him the No. 13 senior recruit in North Carolina. Moss has more than 30 college scholarship offers, including from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Southern Cal and the major N.C. schools.

Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri, who also plays Moss at defensive end in key stretches, marvels at his tight end’s size, but even more by his ability to catch the football. That was his famous father’s specialty.

Randy Moss, 38, who lives in Charlotte, played 13 seasons with five NFL teams. He finished his career with 982 catches for 15,292 yards and 156 touchdowns. Moss ranks No. 3 all-time in NFL receiving yards.

Like his father, Thaddeus can make tough catches in a crowd. One of Mallard Creek’s signature plays has quarterback James Smith throw the ball high in a corner of the end zone for Thaddius to catch.

“He’s so talented,” Palmieri said. “He has some of the best hands I’ve ever seen. He runs good routes. He’s got such a big body. He has it all as far as the tight end or H-Back position. He’s been a special player for us this season.”

Moss transferred from Victory Christian last summer. In 2014, he helped Victory Christian go 11-2 and beat Rabun Gap 46-13 in the Independent Schools Division III state championship game. Moss was named all-state.

This season, he joined a Mallard Creek team ranked as high as No. 6 in preseason national polls and was named a captain. He’s caught 53 passes for 825 yards and 12 touchdowns. In August, he started the season with an 11-yard scoring catch over an Independence receiver and has since added many more highlights.

“He’s great,” Mallard Creek running back Chauncery Bowman said. “He’s a really cool guy and he’s fun to be around - on and off the field. I remember when he came, we were like, ‘We have an athlete coming in.’ That was a good thing.

“I didn’t actually see his dad until Senior Night when he came down to walk on the field with Thad. People were starstruck (when Thaddeus joined the team), and even though we didn’t see (Randy Moss) we were just like ‘Randy Moss is one of the greatest players,’ and to have his son our team was wild.”

Palmieri said the best thing about Thaddeus Moss has been his versatility. He can play him at multiple positions and get production from each.

“He’s really turned into a good team guy for us,” Palmieri said. “He’s been an awesome leader. He knows about the game and knows what it takes to win.

“Once he got comfortable with his surroundings, he’s become a positive kid in the locker room and on the field for us.”

Wertz: 704-358-5133; @langstonwertzjr

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