|Mavs top M-7, wire to wire|
|Mallard Creek finishes No. 1 at 16-0|
|Published Wednesday, December 18, 2013 12:07 pm|
Mallard Creek High started the season atop the Magnificent Seven rankings, and ended it in the same spot.
The Mavericks (16-0) clinched the M-7 title by rolling over opponents in 2013, capped by a 59-21 thrashing of Wake Forest in the N.C. 4AA title game. For a program that had been close to getting to the state finale the previous three seasons, the Mavericks were focused on converting potential into its first N.C. championship in any sport. Mallard Creek outscored playoff opponents 277-72, and its smallest margin of victory was a 42-27 win against Providence in the second round.
The Mavericks weren’t the only Mecklenburg County team to produce outstanding results. Charlotte Catholic overcame a 2-2 start to finish 12-3 and advanced to West Region 4A final in the Cougars’ first season in that classification. Butler, which had won three of the previous four state titles, lost to Mallard Creek in the West Region final. With a more experienced squad returning in 2014, the Bulldogs will again be a threat to go all the way.
Rocky River turned in a breakout campaign to earn a spot in the 4A playoffs. The Ravens gave Independence and Butler a run at the top of the Southwestern 4A standings and established a foundation for future success.
The final Magnificent Seven rankings:
1. Mallard Creek (16-0). No doubt about the best squad in North Carolina. Previous Mavericks teams had bigger stars, but this is the best team in school history. Even with sophomore quarterback James Smith inheriting the starter’s role due to Emerie Scaife’s season-ending injury, Mallard Creek didn’t miss a beat.
2. Charlotte Catholic (12-3). With tailback/linebacker Elijah Hood leading the way on both sides of the ball, Catholic was more than a handful for every county program not named Mallard Creek.
3. Butler (11-5). Young Bulldogs produced a fine season despite some uncharacteristic rough spots. Those setbacks could be a springboard to a better outing next season.
4. Rocky River (11-3). The Ravens’ season ended with a 28-7 loss to Greensboro Dudley, but it was the best campaign in school history. Going 5-1 in the Southwestern 4A earned Rocky River a tie for the league title.
5. Independence (8-5). The Patriots’ 13-10 win against Hough in the first round of the 4AA playoffs was a highlight of the season. A pair of close losses to rival Butler sets up coach Joe Evans’ squad as a major contender moving forward.
6. Hough (10-2). The Huskies’ best regular season in the school’s three years was undone by the loss to Independence. Next year’s goal will be figuring out how to get past MeCka 4A king Mallard Creek.
7. West Mecklenburg (9-3). A 14-7 loss to Providence in the playoffs’ opening round marred a strong season for the Eagles, who had major talents in quarterback Jalan McClendon, an N.C. State signee and Shaun Wilson, a Duke recruit.
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