|Mallard Creek atop preseason rankings|
|Mavericks No. 1 in Magnificent Seven|
|Published Thursday, August 22, 2013 8:11 am|
Mallard Creek High opens the football season as Mecklenburg County’s best team in The Post’s first Magnificent 7 rankings.
The Mavericks went 12-2 last season and advanced to the N.C. 4AA West final, but lost 10 players to college programs. For most programs, that means rebuilding, but at Mallard Creek it’s time to reload with Emiere Scaife at quarterback, multi-threat athlete Jaylen Samuels and receiver Kenzi Presswood leading the attack. The Mavs also have senior linebacker Stepan Askew, who is coming off a 17-sack junior campaign.
Independence, ranked second in Week 1, will get the first opportunity to impress with a Thursday game against South Mecklenburg. The Patriots have a new coach in Joe Evans and are a threat to snatch the Southwestern 4A title for No. 3 Butler.
The Magnificent 7 is as follows.
1. Mallard Creek: The Mavericks have been good enough to get deep into the 4AA playoffs the last three seasons. This season’s challenge is to finally get to and win the state championship. Mallard Creek will get a push from Independence and Butler, but the Mavs have the combination of talent and coaching to come home No. 1.
2. Independence: New coach Joe Evans is familiar with winning as an Independence assistant. The Pats have an abundance of skill position stars in running back Isaiah Robinson (1,550 yards, 29 TDs last year) and receiver Workpeh Kofa and defensive stalwarts in linebacker Tony Worthy and defensive back Deion Washington.
3. Butler: The Bulldogs lost a lot of talent to graduation, but they’re still the standard of recent success in Mecklenburg County. Butler returns an emerging star in quarterback Anthony Ratliffe and tailback Benny LeMay, so the Bulldogs have assets. Will it be enough to make it four 4AA titles in five seasons?
4. Hough: The Huskies, who went 9-3 last season, are out to improve on that mark in 2013. The Huskies have a stellar senior class featuring quarterback Josh Stilley and offensive lineman Jacob McCrary and the defense has juniors Mark Fields and Corey Dell in the secondary.
Is Hough the equal of Mallard Creek in the MeckA Conference? The Oct. 11 game at Mallard Creek might go a long way in determining who rules the roost.
5. Charlotte Catholic: The Cougars have the county’s most dynamic player in Elijah Hood, a tailback who is headed to Notre Dame. He’ll lead coach Jim Oddo’s traditional run-first offense into the 4A ranks for the first time, but Catholic is expected to be strong as usual.
The Cougars will get a good idea of how good in the first four weeks, which includes Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), Rock Hill Northwestern, Charlotte Country Day and Mallard Creek.
6. Olympic: The Trojans have a good shot at being a factor in the South Mecklenburg 8 race. Defensive end Robert Dinkins is a disruptive force and defensive back Kalik Kiser leads the secondary, but offense is where Olympic is most potent.
Quarterback Rod Tinsley is one of the county’s best athletes and Nigel Louallen (receiver) and Isaac Garcia (running back) are cogs in a balanced offense.
7. West Mecklenburg: The Hawks rode a hot streak to finish the 2012 regular season and advanced to the second round of the 4A playoffs.
West returns N.C. State-bound Jalen McClendon at quarterback, offensive lineman Sterlin Houston and tailback Shaun Wilson to lead that side of the ball. If the Hawks’ defense catches on quickly, West could be right there with Olympic and Catholic in the South Mecklenburg 8.
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