|Mallard Creek High opens preseason No. 1 in Magnificent Seven football|
|I-Meck rival Vance second; Harding third|
|Published Sunday, July 29, 2018 9:22 pm|
Mallard Creek is No. 1 in the preseason Magnificent Seven high school football rankings.
The Mavericks, who advanced to the 2017 N.C. 4AA title game, earned the top spot going into the start of preseason drills on July 30. Vance, the Mavericks’ top I-Meck 4A rival, take second after advancing to the 4A West Region final last year, followed by 4A state champion Harding, which has a new coach in Robert Cross.
Southwestern 4A power Butler is fourth, followed by SoMeck contender West Mecklenburg and I-Meck contenders Hough and North Mecklenburg.
Here’s the preseason rankings and 2017 record:
1. Mallard Creek (14-1) – The Mavericks are again the team to beat in the I-Meck and Mecklenburg County. With one of the state’s best coaches in Mike Palmeri and loaded with experienced talent, they’ll be heard from early and often, starting with the Aug. 18 game against South Carolina 4A powerhouse Dutch Fork at Memorial Stadium.
2. Vance (11-4) – The Cougars are always agonizingly close to playing for state titles. Harding got in the way last year in the 4A West final, so coach Aaron Brand won’t need to long hard for motivation. Opener: Aug. 17 at West Mecklenburg.
3. Harding (14-1) –The Rams, in some ways, are starting over. There’s a new coach in Cross, and players stepping for departed leaders like quarterback Braheam Murphy. They return a key cog in running back Quavaris Crouch, the nation’s top recruit. Opener: Aug. 17 at Hough.
4. Butler (8-3)– The Bulldogs have been running the Southwestern 4A for so long, it’s hard to recall a worthy challenger before Myers Park’s upset win in the first round of last year’s playoffs. Butler, however, is set to rule again in 2018. Opener: Aug. 18 vs. Scotland County at Memorial Stadium.
5. West Mecklenburg (8-4) – The Hawks lost key offensive components from a squad that pushed Harding for SoMeck 4A supremacy last year, but are in position to challenge for the top spot in 2018. Opener: Aug. 17 vs. Vance.
6. Hough (11-4): The Huskies won’t be lap dogs to anyone in the I-Meck, perhaps the state’s toughest league. Coach Matthew Jenkins has a team capable of winning out, especially if they can manage the treacherous triangle of Mallard Creek, Vance and North Meck. Opener: Aug. 17 vs. Harding.
7. North Mecklenburg (10-4) – The only thing coach Eric Morman didn’t do in his rookie season was walk on water. He came close, though, by putting the Vikings in the conversation as a team to reckon with after a 10-4 campaign. Opener: Aug. 17 at Durham Jordan.
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