Prep Insider Blog

Notes, Winter Players of the week: Former Northwestern star Mason Rudolph wins ‘SC Heisman’

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, center, holds his Most Valuable Player trophy during the trophy presentation after the Camping World Bowl NCAA college football game against Virginia Tech Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. Oklahoma State won 30-21. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, center, holds his Most Valuable Player trophy during the trophy presentation after the Camping World Bowl NCAA college football game against Virginia Tech Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. Oklahoma State won 30-21. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) AP

Former Rock Hill Northwestern High QB Mason Rudolph has won the 2017 Blanchard-Rogers Trophy, also known as the S.C. Heisman.

In his senior season at Oklahoma State, Rudolph threw for 4,904 yards and 37 touchdowns. His total passing yards and yards per game (377.2) led the Football Bowl Subdivision. In his career, Rudolph was 32-9, leading the Cowboys to three straight 10-wiin seasons and 3-1 bowl record.

He was a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award for the nation’s top quarterback and won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the nation’s top senior quarterback. He leaves Oklahoma State with a school-record 13,618 career passing yards, 92 passing touchdowns and just 26 interceptions in 42 games.

The Blanchard-Rogers Trophy presented by Hale’s Jewelers is awarded to South Carolina’s most outstanding collegiate player of the year (eligibility includes all college football players playing in SC as well as SC natives playing outside the state). The honor is awarded at the organization’s annual Enshrinement Ceremony presented by IAG on April 19th, 2018 at the Embassy Suites at Verdae. Last April, former Clemson standout quarterback Deshaun Watson was honored.

The Blanchard-Rogers Trophy is hand crafted by local Greenville artist Ryan Calloway of Creative Iron Works. This will be the fifth straight year the organization has honored a collegiate player of the year.


Former United Faith star Peter Jurgin was recently named Southern Conference men’s player of the week. He won the award for the week of Jan. 2-8 for East Tennessee State.

Jurkin averaged 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in just 20.5 minutes per game. A 7-0 sixth-year senior out of Juba, South Sudan, Jurkin opened his week with 15 points, two rebounds and a blocked shot in ETSU’s 90-72 win at Samford on Thursday. He was 5-for-6 from the floor and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line on the night.

▪ Gastonia Ashbrook’s Cameron June, an unsigned senior, had a career-high 32 points Tuesday against Kings Mountain. He made 7-of-8 3-point attempts. In his last three games, June has made 16-of 21 3-point shots.

▪ Friday night, Providence Day will use its junior varsity and varsity home games with Covenant Day to raise money for breast cancer awareness. “Play 4 Kay” night, named for former N.C. State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow, will include the school’s basketball players, swimmers and dance seniors. The school hopes to raise $2,000. To help visit this link


Mariah Howlett of Lake Norman Charter School is the 2017-18 Gatorade North Carolina Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. Howlett is the first Gatorade North Carolina Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year to be chosen from Lake Norman Charter School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the racecourse, distinguishes Howlett as North Carolina’s best high school girls cross country runner. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year award to be announced in January, Howlett joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Lukas Verzbicas (2010-11, 2009-10 Carl Sandburg, Orland Park, Ill.), Megan Goethals (2009-10, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Mich.), Jordan Hasay (2008-09, Mission College Prep., San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Chris Derrick (2007-08, Neuqua Valley, Naperville, Ill.).

The 5-foot-6 senior overcame a stress fracture she suffered a year ago to win the NCHSAA 2A State Championships with a time of 18:03.43, leading the Knights to second place as a team. She also finished 20th at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, crossing the line in 18:29.00. A double state track champion in the 1600 and 3200 last spring and Greater Charlotte’s two-time Runner of the Year, Howlett clocked the state’s fastest 5K time among prep girls in 2017 when she finished fourth at the Foot Locker South Regional championships in 17:29.00.

Howlett has maintained an A average in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to run cross country on scholarship at North Carolina State University this fall.


Christ the King has hired Joshua Sims-Crowell Sr. as its new head football coach.


Sims-Crowell replaces Jay Alverson, who was 2-19 in the school’s first two seasons.

“We are thrilled and excited to have Coach Crowell join the Christ the King community,” said athletic director Phil Harrington. “Not only is Coach Crowell going to bring a lot of knowledge and expertise about the game of football to our student-athletes, he is also going to bring a lot of excitement and enthusiasm to our players and fans.”

Crowell was a wide receiver and punt returner at N.C. Central. He had ad been coaching middle school football in Wilson, N.C., and later at Beddingfield High School, where he’s helped produce three 1,000-yard rushers in the past three seasons.

“I look forward to the opportunity to lead the Christ the King football program,” Sims-Crowell said. “I’m very eager to get started with a great group of student-athletes, parents, coaches, faculty, staff, and an outstanding community.”

▪ Patrick Clark is the new head football coach at Claremont’s Bunker Hill High School. Clark was chosen from a pool of more than 60 applicants. He replaces David Haynie, who coached the past two seasons but is retiring after 39 years as a educator and coach.

Clark has been an assistant coach at Cherryville and North Gaston. For the past three seasons, he was special teams coordinator at Maiden and coached multiple defensive positions.

“Bunker Hill is excited about the selection of coach Clark as our new head football coach,” said Bunker Hill principal Jeff Isenhour. “Coach Clark brings both energy and a wealth of football knowledge to our athletic program at Bunker Hill. We are eager to have him join the program and believe he will have a tremendous impact with our athletes on and off the field.”

▪ Former Independence High star DJ Smith, who was a star player at Appalachian State, has been hired as a defensive assistant coach at his alma mater. He will coach linebackers.

▪ Independence senior defensive lineman Kaleb Baker has committed to UNC-Pembroke.

▪ East Lincoln defensive end Gage Welborn has committed to Charlotte.

▪ Hough wide receiver Nolan Groulx has committed to Wisconsin. Groulx, a top 20 N.C. recruit in the class of 2019, had 75 catches for 1,101 yards and nine touchdowns htis season. He had 1,394 all purpose yards. He had offers from schools like Wisconsin, South Carolina, Duke and N.C. State. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder carries a 4.0 GPA.


▪ Myers Park swept the boys and girls Southwestern 4A swim championships last week. The boys total 760 points, well ahead of East Meck (361) and Butler (322). The girls had 785 points, well ahead of Butler (365.5) and Hickory Ridge (329).

Girls winners: 200 medley relay (Myers Park); 200 free (Spencer Sheridan, Myers Park); 200 IM (Liza Whitmire, Myers Park); 50 free (Janie Smith, Myers Park); diving (Olivia Dagenhart, Myers Park); 100 butterfly (Janie Smith, Myers Park); 100 free (Emma Walker, Myers Park); 500 free (Bella Hardin, East Meck); 200 free relay (Myers Park); 100 back (Claire Russell, Myers Park); 100 breaststroke (Liza Whitmire, Myers Park); 400 free relay (Myers Park);

Boys winners: 200 medley relay (Myers Park); 200 free (Jack Walker, Myers Park); 200 IM (Payton Graham, Butler); 50 free (Charles Clickner, Myers Park); diving (Adam Sneden, Myers Park); 100 butterfly (Drew Warlick, Myers Park); 100 free (Jack Walker, Myers Park); 500 free (Alan Hudgens, East Meck); 200 free relay (Myers Park); 100 back (Hugh Svendsen, Myers Park); 100 breast (Brandon Pieroni, Myers Park); 400 free relay (Myers Park)

▪ Hough won the boys and girls I-MECK conference swim meets last week. Lake Norman and Mallard Creek were second and third in the both events

Boys Winners: 200 medley relay (Hough); 200 free (Avery Gambill, North Meck); 200 IM (Chase Allison, Hopewell); 50 free (Kenneth Lowe, Hough); 100 butterfly (Ethan Schneider, Hough); 100 free (Kenneth Lowe, Hough); 500 free relay (Avery Gambill, North Meck); 200 free relay (Hough); 100 back (Chase Allison, Hopewell); 100 breast (Markus Wennborg, Hopewell); 400 free relay (Hopewell)

Girls Winners: 200 medley relay (Hough); 200 free (Kensley Merritt, Hough); 200 IM (Lilly Higgs, Hough); 50 free (Heidi Lowe, Hough); 100 butterfly (Marrisa Lassell, Hough); 100 free (Heidi Lowe, Hough); 500 free (Gracie Steelhammer, Lake Norman); 200 free relay (Hough); 100 back (Kensley Merritt, Hough); 100 breast (Lilly Higgs, Hough); 400 free relay (Hough);

▪ The Lake Norman Charter swim team swept the South Fork Athletic Conference Championships on Saturday, Jan. 27. The team will swim in the 2A regionals Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center in uptown Charlotte:

Girls first place wins:

200 medley relay - Ariel Hopper, Riggan Ayscue, Mattie Luther, Jennifer Schimmoller

200 free relay - Johannah Penner, Laura Hack, Caroline Macfee, Mattie Luther

400 free relay - Mattie Luther, Jennifer Schimmoller, Ariel Hopper, Riggan Ayscue

200 free individual - Jennifer Schimmoller

50 free - Caroline Macfee

100 fly - Mattie Luther

100 free - Ariel Hopper

500 free - Jennifer Schimmoller

100 back - Ariel Hopper

100 breast - Riggan Ayscue

Men's first place wins

200 medley relay - Harrison Powe, Eli Agosto, Ryan Chestnutt, Cade O'Connell

200 free relay - Ryan Chestnutt, Joey Fieno, Eli Agosto, Cade O'Connell

400 free relay - Glenn Luther, Harrison Powe, Matt Robertson, Cade O'Connell

200 IM - Harrison Powe

50 free - Cade O'Connell

100 breast - Eli Agosto

▪ The CISAA conference meet is Monday at the MCAC uptown.


Hopewell wrestler Liam Kirkpatrick signed with Queens

▪ The NCHSAA Dual Team state finals are set Saturday at the Greensboro Fieldhouse: 4A, Cary vs West Forsyth, 3; 3A, Orange vs. Piedmont, noon; 2A, Croatan vs. West Lincoln, 3; 1A, Rosewood vs. Robbinsville


Two-time N.C. Gatorade player of the year Taylor Rowland of Concord Cox Mill headlines the N.C. volleyball coaches association all-state team.

Rowland graduated early from Cox Mill in December and is already enrolled at classes at Auburn University, where she continues her academic and athletic career.

The 6-foot-3, outside hitter, led Cox Mill to the 3A state quarterfinals in her senior year with 520 kills, 227 digs and 55 aces.

Four other area players made the team: Hough’s Erin Cooke, West Iredell’s Lucy Ann Ferguson, Marvin Ridge’s Carly Owens and Charlotte Catholic’s Hattie Rodriguez.

Jay Edwards Athletes of the Week


Destiny Johnson, East Lincoln Basketball: East Lincoln senior point guard, Destiny Johnson, has had a lot of big moments for the Mustangs over the last four seasons.

East Lincoln’s Destiny Johnson

But just after scoring her seventh point with just 10 seconds left in the first quarter of the Jan. 26 game against North Lincoln, the moment overcame the usually stoic, Johnson.

Standing in the center of East Lincoln’s court with Johnson’s coaches, family and friends, the gravity of scoring the 2,000th-point of her Mustang career finally hit her.

"I’ve never really thought about breaking records, my focus is doing whatever it takes to win games," said Johnson, who would go on to score 24 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, 11 steals and dishing out seven assists a thrilling 62-58 win over North Lincoln that same night. "…But to score my 2,000th point at home in a big game was special. I really got to feel the moment and it was surreal. As everybody there saw, I started to cry.

…I know I did something (2,000 points) that not many people get a chance to accomplish in high school (basketball)."

Johnson joined rare company as the third player Lincoln County history to score 2,000 career points, joining former East Lincoln standout, Sage Surratt (now a Wake Forest football player), and current, Lincoln Charter point guard, Kody Shubert.

Johnson now has 2017 points, 872 rebounds and 362 steals in her Mustang career (through Jan. 28).

Johnson says she was also proud to follow in her family’s footsteps at East Lincoln as her great aunt, Brenda Johnson Hamilton (led East Lincoln to 1973 state championship), and her father, Doran (standout basketball football player 1989 and 1990), both starred for the Mustangs.

Johnson broke her great aunt’s single-game scoring record (41 points), netting 44 points against Lake Norman Charter, Dec. 12.

East Lincoln coach, Jason Otey, says nothing Johnson does surprises him.

"She’s been doing it (great accomplishments) for four years," said Otey, noting Johnson has 50-plus double doubles in her East Lincoln career. "(Even her 2,000th-point game) was kind of a normal game for her (stats wise), honestly. She has that kind of impact every night (game)."

Now, Johnson turns her attention to helping East Lincoln win more big games in the final stretch of her high school career. She also hopes to play college basketball.

Johnson, who averages 23 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and three steals per contest this season) has some recruiting interest from some Division I, II and III schools, including a recent Lees McRae College offer, according to Otey.

Journey Muhammad/D’Shara Booker, Ardrey Kell Basketball: The Ardrey Kell seniors both set school records in the Knights’ dramatic 48-47 win over rival, South Mecklenburg, Jan. 26.

Muhammad, a 5-foot-4 point guard, had 11 points and four assists in the game to become Ardrey Kell’s all-time leader in assists with 316.

Meanwhile, Booker, a 6-foot-1 forward and Austin Peay State University signee, had seven points and 13 rebounds in the same game to become the Knights’ all-time leading rebounder with 717 career boards.

Muhammad (12 ppg, 3 rpg, 3 apg) and Booker (10 ppg, 12 rpg) are both key pieces to an Ardrey Kell team that is 19-1 overall, including 9-0 in SoMeck7 conference play, and No. 1 in the Charlotte Observer girls’ basketball, Sweet 16.

heidi (2)
Hough swimmer Heidi Lowe

Lillian Higgs/Heidi Lowe, Hough Swimming: The Hough seniors both had standout performances to help the Huskies to the I-Meck 4A conference championship, Jan. 26.

Higgs, a University of North Carolina signee, won the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley while helping the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay to conference titles.

Hough swimmer Lillian

Lowe, also a University of North Carolina signee, won the I-Meck 4A title in both the 50 and 100 freestyle, while helping the same two relays (200 medley and 400 freestyle) to league crowns.

Higgs and Lowe also hope to lead their Hough team to their third consecutive, 4A state championship on Feb. 10 at Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.

Julia Menkhaus Catholic swimming

Julia Menkhaus, Charlotte Catholic Swimming: The Charlotte Catholic senior led the Cougars’ girls’ swim team to a Southern Carolinas’ conference (SCC) title, winning the 100 backstroke, the 100 butterfly, while lead both the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay to league championships in the process.

Menkhaus, the reigning Charlotte Observer girls’ swimmer of the year and a University of Virginia signee, is looking to three-peat as state champion in both the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly events, Feb. 8 at Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.

Olivia Hee, Providence Day Track: The Providence Day junior ran the second-fastest, 55-meter dash in the state this indoor season with a personal-best 7.14 in the preliminary heat at the RHFitPro High School Elite Invitational at the JDL Track, Jan. 27

Hee finished as runner-up in the finals of the same meet, running a 7.18.

The 7.14-second run qualifies Hee for the New Balance Indoor Nationals, March 9-11, in the New York City.

Boys’ Athletes of the Week

Garinger wrestler Elias Bethea

Elias Bethea, Garinger Wrestling: The Garinger freshman had never wrestled in his life before this season began.

Bethea finished the regular season 5-5, earned the No. 3 seed in the Southwestern 4A conference tournament (152-pound weight class) and was named the Wildcats’ team captain for his dedication and leadership.

The 14-year old continues to impress as he was also a quarterback on the Garinger varsity football team.

Gerrale Gates, Butler Basketball: The 6-foot-6, 240, senior forward averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds in two, critical Southwestern 4A conference games on back-to-back nights, Jan. 25-26.

Gates, a University of New Orleans signee, had 25 points and 13 rebounds in a last second, 69-68 loss at Rocky River, Jan. 25.

About 24 hours later, Gates nearly posted a triple-double with 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists to lead the Bulldogs to a 70-55 victory over Myers Park at home.

Butler (17-3, 7-3 in the SW4A) has won 11 of their last 12 games.

Myers Park swimmer Drew Warlick with a teammate

Drew Warlick, Myers Park Swimming: The Myers Park senior earned Southwestern 4A (SW4A) conference swimmer of the years honors after helping the Mustangs to a league championship, beating the field by 399 points at the SW4A conference championships, Jan. 26.

Warlick won the 100 butterfly (53.68 seconds) and helped the 400 freestyle relay (with Benjamin Hager, Hugh Svendsen and Jack Walker) to a title.

Walker also had a meet to remember winning the 100 and 200 freestyle, who helping the 200 and 400 freestyle relays to victories.

Sam Mahoney, Charlotte Latin Swimming: The Charlotte Latin senior won both the 100 butterfly and the 500 freestyle in a dual meet victory over Charlotte Country Day and Providence Day, Jan. 25, as the Hawks’ boys remained undefeated on the season.

Mahoney has showed his versatility in the pool, as he is unbeaten this season in the 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle, with his only individual loss coming in the 200 freestyle.

Mahoney, who also plays viola in the Charlotte Latin orchestra, looks to help his Latin boys’ swim team to their sixth straight, NCISAA 3A state championship, Feb. 19.

Jacob Hattaway, Metrolina Christian Wrestling: The Metrolina Christian junior notched his 100th career victory in a win a Providence Day, Jan. 23.

Hattaway, who is 18-4 this season, was NCISAA state runner-up as a freshman, and NCISAA state champion last year as a sophomore.

Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school athletes with outstanding performances. Information published today includes statistics through Jan. 28. The goal is to recognize all athletes in all sports, both the most accomplished and the underrated or underappreciated players. If you want to suggest someone to be included in the Athletes of the week column, send email to Jay Edwards at Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.

N.C. Volleyball Coaches Association All-State team

Bethany Clayton, East Surry High School

Erin Cooke, Hough High School

Destiny Cox, Carrboro High School

Jade Demps, Raleigh Broughton High School

Lucy Ann Ferguson, West Iredell High School

Tyra Galloway, Davie County High School

Kaya Merkler, Chapel Hill High School

Carly Owens, Marvin Ridge High School

Adeola Owokoniran, Wakefield High School

Hattie Rodriguez, Charlotte Catholic High School

Taylor Rowland, Cox Mill High School

Nya Steele, Reagan High School