About 15 percent of all the email I get – and I get tons – concerns the Sweet 16. One of the more constant questions: Team A beat Team B earlier this year, so why is Team B ranked ahead of Team A?
This happens a lot, but just like in college football, where a team that suffers an early loss can rally to get back to No. 1, it can happen in the Sweet 16. Look at Mallard Creek. The Mavericks lost to Butler by a point on Aug. 29. Butler jumped ahead of Mallard Creek in the rankings after that. But Mallard Creek only dropped one spot, and then the Mavericks began to hammer people.
So when Butler lost to Richmond Senior on Sept. 20, Mallard Creek jumped ahead of Butler in our poll (currently the teams are tied at No. 2 behind Independence). The Mavericks, actually, are No. 1 in MaxPreps’ statewide poll of teams from all classes, ahead of many unbeaten teams.
• After rushing for more than 900 yards in his first five games, Mooresville’s Akease Rankin injured his ankle. He has missed the past three weeks. Mooresville has beaten North Iredell (35-6), Alexander Central (50-13) and North Lincoln (38-7) with Manny Johnson doing most of the heavy lifting at running back. Blue Devils coach Hal Capps said Rankin is better, but isn’t sure whether he’ll play in Friday’s home game with West Iredell.
• Before Friday’s game, Mooresville will honor former head coach Joe Popp with a sculpture. Popp, who led Mooresville to a state title in 1961, passed away in 2012. The Mooresville stadium was named for him in 2010.
• Two years ago, Christian Colon transferred from SouthLake Christian, a Huntersville private school, to Independence in the middle of his freshman year. He’s now part of a unit that is, at least statistically, the state’s top defense. Colon, 6 feet 3 inches and 320 pounds, has multiple major college offers and moved to Charlotte from Brooklyn, N.Y., in the second grade. He still carries the accent.
I asked him about the difference between playing at SouthLake and playing at Independence.
“Competition,” said Colon, named a USA Football and Under Armor All-American in eighth grade. “Aw man, competition. Competition here is something crazy. When you go against people at a school of 400, football is almost like rec league. ... There’s no competition and the studs out there are just hyped up basically. It felt like practice every game to me.”
• Speaking of Independence, coach Joe Evans tells me he needs a Week 1 game next season. He tried to schedule Richmond Senior but the date didn’t work. How about Independence vs. Charlotte Christian (or Rock Hill Northwestern, or Mooresville, or New Bern or South Pointe) in that Thursday night kickoff game that OrthoCarolina helps put on?
• Last week was the best week of the season with a plethora of great matchups, including four conference unbeaten teams playing each other in the SoMeck 8. The schedule is down this week, but we’re heading for a big finish. Iredell County rivals Mooresville and Lake Norman appear headed for a North Piedmont conference championship showdown to finish the season Nov. 7. Providence, which plays Harding this week, will try to win a rare conference title by beating second-place South Meck Oct. 31 and Charlotte Catholic Nov. 7. Catholic and Providence are currently tied for first.
In the Southwestern 4A, Independence gets Rocky River and then Butler; and in the MECKA 8, Mallard Creek has the inside track to the title, but Vance and Hough could be playing for a very important No. 2 seed on Nov. 7.
• Note to folks playing South Meck: Don’t kick to Chance Kennedy. Kennedy, a 5-foot-8 junior, averages 31.2 yards per kick return and 17 on punt returns.
• Remember former Clemson star Perry Tuttle? He caught the winning pass in the 1981 Orange Bowl that delivered a national championship for the Tigers. Tuttle’s son, Kanyon, is turning into quite a receiver at Charlotte Latin. In eight games, he has 27 catches for 611 yards and nine touchdowns.
• Three of the top four punters, by average, in the state are from the greater Charlotte area: No. 1 Marion Watson of Marvin Ridge (50.9), No. 3 Matt Brown (42.1) of A.L. Brown and No. 4 Turner Burgess of Charlotte Country Day (40.2). And Watson’s 51-yard average ain’t a mirage. He’s got 29 attempts with a long of 85. He’s placed six punts inside the 20.