Prep Insider Blog

Fall Athletes of the week: Covenant Day football star sparks historic win

Covenant Day football star Jackson Bertelsen
Covenant Day football star Jackson Bertelsen Special to the Observer

Charlotte Observer Boys’ Athletes of the Week

Covenant Day football star Jackson Bertelsen Mike Cotton Special to the Observer

Jackson Bertelsen, Covenant Day Football: For most of his Covenant Day athletic career, Jackson Bertelsen has been known for his ability on the baseball diamond.

The 6-foot-5, 187-pound senior can throw a 90-mile per hour fastball and is committed to the United States’ Military Academy (Army) at West Point.

But Bertelsen forever etched his name in the Covenant Day football history books when he caught two passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns to help the Lions to 28-14 win over Concord Cannon School, their first varsity win in school history in their first home game ever. Victory Christian forfeited a game to Covenant Day, scheduled for this week, as the Lions are now 2-2.

In the Cannon game, Bertelsen proved to be a game-changer for Covenant Day as burned the Cannon School defense for 71-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback, Robert Stone.

Less than a minute later, Stone again found Bertelsen behind the Cougars’ defense on a 77-yard touchdown pass.

Bertelsen turned a 14-7 lead into a 28-7 cushion in less than a minute in front of the biggest crowd in Covenant Day athletics history, approximately 2,000 fans, according to Lions’ football coach, Chris James.

“The whole game was awesome, and it was huge for our program to get a win like that, because we all worked so hard to have this kind of moment,” said Bertelsen, who also had seven tackles and an interception from his defensive back position. “…To be able to score those touchdowns back-to-back was crazy. It was an awesome feeling to be tackled by my teammates in end zone two times. I was pretty tired after those two touchdowns (said laughing).”

The victory was also sweet for Coach James, who has helped build the Covenant Day football program from scratch the last three years, starting as a seventh-ninth grade team then a junior varsity squad.

Friday night (Sept. 7), James and company enjoyed another historic moment.

“The first thing I told our guys after the game is that no one will ever forget this game, the first varsity win in our first home game, this team will forever be a part of Covenant Day football history,” said James, a former Charlotte Christian football assistant and graduate. “The win was ever better because I don’t think anybody outside our locker room believed we could win this game (versus Cannon School).”

While Bertelsen played a lead role in the Cannon School win, Coach James also said Covenant Day got big contributions from senior linebacker/running back, Nich Prevette (six tackles, an interception) and junior middle linebacker Ben Walton (five tackles, an interception).

But no matter who made the big plays, the win was one for the ages for entire, Covenant Day football family.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling that win gives all of us,” Bertelsen said. “We will forever be bonded, the coaches, the players as the first team to win a (varsity) game in the first home game. No one can every take that feeling and that accomplishment away from us.”

East Rutherford football player Jayden Waddell Yvonne Vickers Special to the Observer

Jayden Waddell, East Rutherford Football: The East Rutherford star touched the football six times on plays from scrimmage in 45-19 win over Burns Sept. 7.

Waddell’s six touches resulted in 274 yards of total offense and four touchdowns to lead the Cavaliers to victory. He had three rushes for 134 yards and a touchdown, while catching three passes for 140 yards and two more scores.

This season, Waddell has 14 rushes for 379 yards and eight touchdowns, while catching seven balls for 160 yards and three scores in the air. He also has two kickoff returns for touchdowns and two interceptions on defense.

Waddell has an offer from Davidson College, according to East Rutherford football coach Clint Bland.

Charlotte Christian football player Obi Egbuno Melinda Hicks Special to the Observer

Obi Egbuna, Charlotte Christian Football: The Charlotte Christian senior showed his versatility for the Knights’ defense and special teams to help his team to a 44-7 win over Pace Academy (GA), Sept. 7.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound cornerback/wide receiver/returner had two interceptions in the first half, including a 68-yard pick-six.

Egbuna also blocked a Pace Academy field goal attempt at the end of the first half.

Egbuna, who had two tackles and 13-yard punt return in the victory, has been a big part of a Charlotte Christian defense that has two shutouts in three games and has allowing only seven total points.

Sam Howell, Sun Valley Football: The Sun Valley senior has been making big plays for four year as the Spartans’ quarterback and had another big game in a 38-21 win over archrival Porter Ridge Sept. 7, going 12-for-21 passing for 358 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing 12 times for 118 yards and another score.

Howell, a Florida State commit, is 40-for-73 for 806 yards passing with 10 touchdown passes in his first three games, while running 38 times for 378 yards and three more scores for Sun Valley.

Jake Helfrich/Tim Swimmer, Charlotte Latin Football: The Charlotte Latin duo helped lead the Hawks to a dramatic, 26-20 overtime victory over Woodberry Forest Sept. 8.

Helfrich, a sophomore quarterback, went 27-for-38 for 258 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Helfrich’s third touchdown pass to junior Andrew Sumichrast gave Charlotte Latin the win on their first overtime possession.

Helfrich is 54-of-82 for 505 yards passing and six touchdowns this season.

Meanwhile, Swimmer, a senior kicker, batted two extra points and field goals from 22- and 25-yards out in the Woodberry Forest win.

Swimmer’s 22-yard field goal with one second in regulation tied the game at 20.

Swimmer doubles as a senior midfielder and co-captain for the Charlotte Latin soccer team (5-1-2). Swimmer helped the Hawks’ soccer team to a 3-2 win over Charlotte Christian, Sept. 4. Latin lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Episcopal Academy (PA), Sept. 6.

Swimmer is 7-for-8 on extra points, 2-for-3 on field goals for the Latin football team, and has one goal for the Hawks’ soccer team this season.

Marco Rangel, Porter Ridge Soccer: The Porter Ridge senior midfielder/defender had five goals in the Pirates’ win over Central Academy and Garinger last week.

Rangel started the week with a hat trick (three goals) in a 4-1 victory over Central Academy, Sept. 5.

The next day, Rangel netted two goals in an 8-0 win over Garinger.

Rangel has 13 goals in 10 games this season.

Rangel is the younger brother of former Porter Ridge goalkeeper Julio Rangel, who was an all-region and Southwestern 4A goalkeeper of the year.

Porter Ridge (9-1, 1-0 in the SW4A conference) has won nine straight games, outscoring their opponents 37-9 this year.

C Van Than, Independence Soccer: The Independence senior forward had four goals to lead the Patriots (4-2-1) to 9-0 win over West Mecklenburg, Sept. 6.

Than, who has 10 goals in seven games this year, scored a school-record 32 goals last year as a junior.

Than also had a hat-trick (three goals) in Independence’s 9-0 win over Hopewell, Aug. 23.

Cameron Nelson, West Charlotte Soccer: The West Charlotte sophomore wasn’t able to lead the Lions’ junior varsity team to victory in their season opening, 4-0 loss to Berry Academy.

But Nelson made a valiant effort as the goalkeeper recorded 25 saves as the Lions’ fielded a junior varsity soccer team for the first time in 15 years, according to West Charlotte soccer coach, Ryan Copeland.

Nelson and most of the West Charlotte team are first-year soccer players, but are committed to helping build the future of the Lions’ soccer program.

Kyle Durham, Weddington Cross Country: The Weddington senior ran a 15:56.55, the second-best 5K of his career to finish in third-place at the Friday Nights’ Lights’ Invitational at Ivan Redmon Sports’ Complex in Kernersville, Sept. 7.

Durham was one of five runners to finish in the top 16 as the Warriors’ won the team title at the same event by 83 points.

Weddington freshman Nate Jaster also broke the 16-minute barrier (15:57.81), to come in fourth place. Warriors’ senior Will Mazur ran a 16:19.04 to finish 12th; junior Jake Toomer finished 13th in 16:19.64; and senior Stephen Larson was 16th overall in 16:23.53.

Durham broke 16 minutes (in the 5K) for the third time in his Weddington cross country career, according to

Charlotte Observer Girls’ Athletes of the Week

Marvin Ridge volleyball star Adriana Jordan Natalie Barbu Special to the Observer

Adriana Jordan, Marvin Ridge Volleyball: The Marvin Ridge senior setter continued her monster season, with 204 assists in eight matches last week to help the Mavericks improve to 26-2 this season.

Jordan matched a season-high 37 assists in the Mavericks’ first match of the week in a win at Cuthbertson Sept. 4, and in a tough 2-1 loss to North Raleigh Christian in the championship game of the Knights’ Volleyball tournament (at North Raleigh Christian) Sept. 8. Marvin Ridge was 7-1 last week.

Jordan leads the state with 677 assists this season, which is also No. 25 in the nation, according to

The Marvin Ridge volleyball team is ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 36 in the nation, according to

Davidson Day volleyball star Cierra Huntley April Freidline Photography Special to the Observer

Cierra Huntley, Davidson Day Volleyball: The Davidson Day junior had 41 kills, 48 digs and eight blocks overall to lead the Patriots to wins over Gaston Day and Caldwell Academy last week.

Huntley started her week with 17 kills, 25 digs and two blocks in 3-0 win over Gaston Day Sept. 4.

Two days later, Huntley came back with 24 kills, 23 digs, six blocks and two aces in a 3-2 win over Caldwell Academy.

Huntley, a Virginia Tech commit, has 182 kills, 142 digs, 18 blocks and 24 aces this season for a Patriots’ team (14-2) that has won 10 straight matches.

Sophie Imhof, Marvin Ridge Tennis: The Marvin Ridge junior won all three of her singles’ matches at 6-0, 6-0 last week to help the Mavericks stay undefeated at 11-0 overall this season (including 6-0 in the Southern Carolinas’ conference).

Imhof, who is 11-0 in singles’ play this season (at No. 3 and 4 singles), blanked Weddington’s Roma Spear (Sept. 4), Fort Mill’s Rylie Waringer (Sept. 5) and Sun Valley’s Morgan Vogus (Sept. 6), in three matches in as many days.

Imhof is also 6-1 in doubles’ play at the No. 1 position this year.

Elyse Duley, Myers Park Tennis: The Myers Park sophomore showed her ability to play in multiple spots in the Mustangs’ lineup as she went 3-0 in singles’ play last week with three wins in three consecutive days.

Duley started her week at No. 2 singles, beating East Mecklenburg’s Saga Mohamed, 6-0, 6-0 to help Myers Park to a 9-0 victory Sept. 4.

The next day, Duley played No. 3 singles and got a critical win 6-0, 6-4 over Hough’s Oriana Espinoza in a 5-4 Mustangs win.

Duley finished her week playing the No. 1 singles’ position beating Vivian Vassilski, 6-1, 6-4 to lead Myers Park to an 8-1 win.

Myers Park is a perfect 9-0 this season, winning 66 of their 78 individual matches (through Sept. 6 match).

Charlotte Latin girls golfer Alexis Sudjianto Charlotte Latin Athletics

Alexis Sudjianto, Charlotte Latin Golf: The Charlotte Latin senior shot a two-under par 34 to earn medalist honors in a tri-match with Cannon School and Charlotte Country Day at Cedarwood Country Club Sept. 4.

Sudjianto eagled the par-five No. 8 at Cedarwood, while also birdying No. 5 to go with six pars and a bogey in her round.

Sudjianto, a Carnegie Mellon University commit, shot 36 last week at Raintree Country Club to finish second.

Sudjianto is the No. 6 junior golfer in the state, according the Tarheel Youth Golf Association (TYGA) rankings.

Maggie Magner, South Mecklenburg Golf: The South Mecklenburg freshman was the medalist, shooting a 39 in the first varsity golf match of her high school career, leading the Sabres to a win over Charlotte Catholic at Charles L. Sifford Golf Course Sept. 6.

Fellow South Mecklenburg freshman Emma Williams also came up big for the Sabres (1-0) in her first varsity match, shooting a 41 to finish as runner-up to Magner.

Layla Meric, Cuthbertson Golf: The Cuthbertson sophomore is having a strong season as she averages 37.75 (per nine holes) in four matches this season.

Meric shot a 39 to earn medalist honors at a tri-match with Cuthbertson, Porter Ridge and Weddington at Firethorne Country Club, Sept. 5.

Meric, who shot a season low 37 last week against Marvin Ridge, is ranked No. 52 in the state amongst junior golfers, according to the TYGA.

Brooke Butler, Central Academy Cross Country/Rachel Johnson, Sun Valley Cross Country: The Central Academy sophomore, Butler, showed great sportsmanship when gave her gold medal to Sun Valley sophomore, Johnson, at the Central Academy Cross Country Invitational awards’ ceremony, Sept. 1.

Johnson would have been the winner of the race, but was disqualified because she didn’t complete the course as designed because she was misdirected, according to Central Academy coach, Kim Inuwa.

Johnson’s 20:05.72 at the Central Academy Cross Country Invitational was a personal-best, 5K run.

Lake Norman Charter Cross Country Team: The Lake Norman girls’ cross country team won the Cannon Invitational, Sept. 8, with four runners placing in the top eight positions.

Knights’ sophomore, Abby Farris, led the way as the runner-up in 20:14.48, with junior Monique Gandy finishing third overall in 20:19.12. Lake Norman Charter junior Anna Gartner came in seventh-place in 21:12.05, while Knights’ freshman Megan Wozniak, finished eighth in 21:16.41.

** Information published today includes statistics through September 9th.

Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school players with outstanding performances. 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.