|Opening week a time for the tried and new in high school football|
|Top teams kick off 2019 with tough competition|
|Published Thursday, August 22, 2019 10:51 am|
|Vance High linebacker Power Echols leads a Cougars defense that returns most of the nucleus from a team that advanced to the 2018 4AA title game.|
The drama starts early for Mecklenburg County’s best high school football teams.
Hough and Butler, ranked fourth and fifth in the Magnificent Seven rankings, launch the season Thursday in Matthews at the Kickoff Classic at the Sportsplex. No. 2 Mallard Creek opens Friday at Dutch Fork (S.C.) in a national telecast pitting a pair of the country’s top programs. The Mustangs and Silver Foxes were scheduled to play last year in Charlotte, but the game was cancelled due to bad weather.
Here’s a snapshot of what to look for heading into Week 1:
• Bright lights early for Mallard Creek. The Mavericks, who are accustomed to playing for state titles, didn’t get that far in 2018. Games at South Carolina 5A champion Dutch Fork Friday on ESPN 2 Friday followed by Butler at home the following week will provide an early glance into what Mallard Creek is capable of.
• Myers Park’s time to shine. The Mustangs believe they have the assets to earn a state championship berth with one of Mecklenburg’s top offenses and coach Scott Chadwick calling the shots.
The schedule is favorable, with Hough (Sept. 20 and Butler (Oct. 11) the toughest regular season opponents. Will that be enough preparation for what promises to be a difficult West region in the playoffs?
• Can West Charlotte take the next step? Josh Harris put some roar in the Lions last year with a 7-5 record and a win in the 4A playoffs.
Improving won’t be easy in the brutal I-Meck, where they play North Mecklenburg, Mallard Creek, Vance and Hough over a four-week stretch. Ouch.
New coaches. The ranks are always shifting in Mecklenburg, and this year it’s especially heavy in the SoMeck 4A where five are taking over programs. Last year’s champion, West Mecklenburg, has a new coach in former offensive coordinator Nick Mata, a Johnson C. Smith graduate.
The program to keep an eye on is South Mecklenburg, where former Independence coach and Myers Park offensive coordinator Joe Evans takes over the Sabres.
• Beware the Cougars. That would be No. 3 Vance, where coach Glenwood Ferebee takes over for Aaron Brand. The Cougars, who played for the 4AA title in 2018, return the bulk of their defense, led by linebacker Power Echols. Austin Grier earned a promotion to starting quarterback, where he’ll lead Ferebee’s up-tempo offense.
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