Mallard Creek’s Mavericks, who have won three straight N.C. 4AA state championships, begin the 2016 high school football season ranked No. 1 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 poll.
Eligible teams for the poll come from a pool of 104 schools in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln and Union Counties. To be eligible for the poll, teams must be part of a sanctioned high school athletic association and not allow student-athletes to repeat a grade and maintain eligibility in high school years. At the Observer’s high school website (charlotteobserver.com/sports/high-school) there are links to profiles of each of the 16 ranked teams.
The Mavericks finished 14-2 last season and return 11 starters, including six on defense. At least 10 Mavericks have already committed to Division I schools, led by wide receiver Ryan Jones, a UNC recruit whom ESPN ranks No. 2 overall in North Carolina.
Mallard Creek and first-year QB Chauncey Caldwell begin the season Friday at S.C. state champion Dillon.
“We’ve got some talent,” Mavericks coach Mike Palmieri said. “We’ve got a tough schedule. Our job is to get these kids ready for a playoff run in November.”
▪ Six of the top 10 ranked teams -- Mallard Creek, No. 2 Rock Hill Northwestern, No. 4 Charlotte Catholic, No. 7 Monroe, No. 8 Davidson Day and No. 9 Rock Hill South Pointe -- won state championships last season.
The Charlotte Observer Preseason Sweet 16 Poll
Mallard Creek (4A)
Charlotte Catholic (4A)
Davidson Day (IND)
South Mecklenburg (4A)
Marvin Ridge (3A)
Charlotte Latin (IND)
Charlotte Christian (IND)
Ardrey Kell (4A)