Rock Hill South Pointe's Jadeveon Clowney was the nation's No.1-ranked college recruit in preseason by nearly all of the national scouting services. It could be a heavy burden, but Clowney produced a wonderful senior season and repeats as the All-Observer defensive player of the year.
Mallard Creek quarterback Marquise Williams ran up nearly 4,500 yards and 45 touchdowns playing in about 12 games. In a year of dominant quarterback play, he is the All-Observer offensive player of the year.
Garinger coach Lin Fisher led the Wildcats to their most wins in 20 years. Garinger, a notoriously tough place to win, finished 7-5 and hosted a playoff game. The Wildcats had a five-game win streak in September, their best in 16 years. Fisher, who was an interim coach, took over for Terry Liggin just before the start of the season.
At South Pointe, Clowney led the team to a 13-2 record and a S.C. 3A state championship appearance. He was named S.C. Mr. Football and won several national player of the week awards. Clowney, 6-foot-6 and 252 pounds, will play in the Under Armour All-American Game and will choose a college among Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Louisiana State and South Carolina. This season, he had 167 tackles, including 47 for a loss. He had 32.5 sacks, two interceptions and one safety. He caused 11 fumbles, got six fumble recoveries and scored five defensive touchdowns.
At Mallard Creek, Williams, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior, completed 170 of 254 passes (67 percent) for 3,034 yards and 45 touchdowns. He only threw eight interceptions. Williams also rushed for 1,147 yards and 19 touchdowns. The passing yards rank 19th in Mecklenburg County history. The passing touchdowns is sixth best in county history.
Williams, named state player of the year by N.C. Preps, led the Mavericks to a school-record wins and to the N.C. 4AA quarterfinals, as deep in the playoffs as any Mallard Creek team had gone.
The All-Observer team recognizes the top players in the newspaper's 127-school coverage area in North and South Carolina. Coaches are asked to nominate players, and the Observer considers those nominations and talks with coaches, scouts and other writers about performance before picking a team. An All-Mecklenburg team, for the top players in Mecklenburg County, is also picked annually. It was announced Friday.
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
QB: Marquise Williams
Mallard Creek, 6-3, 220, Sr.
Threw for more than 3,000 yards, 45 touchdowns and rushed for more than 1,100 yards and 19 touchdowns. N.C. Preps state player of the year and I-MECK 4A conference offensive player of the year.
RB: Justus Pickett
Ardrey Kell, 5-10, 190, Sr.
Third-best single-season rushing performance in county history (2,429 yards); 31 rushing touchdowns ninth best in county history. Southwestern 4A offensive player of the year had 3,068 total yards from scrimmage and 38 touchdowns.
RB: Shawn Warren
China Grove Carson, 5-7, 175, Sr.
Rushed 330 times for 2,967 yards and 30 touchdowns. Set school records for rushing, rush TD, points. More than 6,000 career rush yards; 3.6 GPA; helped team to school-record 10 wins. Has committed to Western Carolina.
RB: Jahwan Edwards
Butler, 5-11, 230, Sr.
256 carries for 1,651 yards and 33 TDs, second-most scores in school history and fourth-most in county history. Edwards rushed for nearly 400 yards in the state semifinals and championship and was MVP of the state final.
WR: K.J. Brent
Marvin Ridge, 6-4, 180, Sr.
56 catches for 1,046 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has committed to South Carolina and was chosen for All World Bowl Dec. 31 on Fox Sports.
WR: Preston Earle
Harding, 6-2, 190, Sr.
85 catches for school-record 1,280 yards and seven touchdowns. The yardage ranks 13th in Mecklenburg County history. MEGA 7 offensive player of the year.
TE: Drew Owens
Ardrey Kell, 6-5, 230, Sr.
South Carolina commit had 25 catches for 524 yards and 5 TDs. Had offers from UNC, N.C. State, Va. Tech, Clemson, Arkansas, Michigan and Maryland.
OL: Devin Flowers
Mallard Creek, 6-2, 285, Sr.
I-MECK 4A all-conference pick was a four-year starter and Shrine Bowl pick. Anchored running game that had nearly 3,000 yards. Three-time all-conference.
OL: D.J. Humphries
Mallard Creek, 6-6, 265, Jr.
The Observer's No. 1 N.C. recruit in the junior class; hasn't given up a sack in two years. All-conference pick in I-MECK 4A.
OL: Mark Harrell
Charlotte Catholic, 6-5, 260, Jr.
Catalyst for Catholic team that averaged 326 yards rushing per game and 4,904 rush yards for the season. Invited to U.S. Army All-American combine next month and has scholarship offer from Duke.
OL: Stewart Hinson
Unionville Piedmont, 6-6, 285, Sr.
Has committed to East Carolina. He graded at 96 percent and didn't allow a sack or a QB hurry. Had 48 pancake blocks and led team to unbeaten conference season; carries 4.16 GPA
OL: Charles Holloway
West Rowan, 6-2, 170, Sr.
Led 16-0 state champ that rushed for more than 3,800 yards and passed for more than 2,400. With starting QB hurt in state final, team ran behind Holloway and junior RB Dinkin Miller rushed for career-best 211 yards.
SPEC: Justin Worley
Rock Hill Northwestern, 6-5, 210, Sr.
Gatorade national player of the year completed 485 of 589 passes (72.8 percent) and threw for 5,313 yards and 64 TDs.
K: Trever Austin
Boiling Springs Crest, 5-11, 175, Sr.
Big South 3A special teams player of the year and Shrine Bowl pick hit 10 of 13 field goals, including from 53 and 52 yards. Missed from 38, 54 and had one blocked. Had 39-yard punt average.SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
QB: B.J. Sherrill, W. Rowan, 6-0, 215, Sr.
RB: Germone Hopper, Berry, 6-0, 175, Jr.
RB: Jalen Simmons, W. Charlotte, 5-10, 200, Sr.
TE: Patrick Hampton, W. Rowan, 6-2, 185, Sr.
WR: Jonah Brooks, Lawndale Burns, 5-11, 185, Sr.
WR: Kevin Asante, Mallard Creek, 5-11, 175, Sr.
WR: Jordan Oakley, Indian Trail Porter Ridge, 5-11, 180, Jr.
OL: Jacob Brewer, Unionville Piedmont, 6-1, 275, Sr.
OL: Nick Sansotta, Butler, 6-1, 250, Sr.
OL: Harrison Monk, Providence, 6-4, 236, Jr.
OL: Nick Davidson, Ardrey Kell, 6-6, 270, Jr.
OL: Stephan Nance, Rock Hill Northwestern, 6-5, 290, Sr.
SPEC: Brandon Littlejohn, Lawndale Burns, 5-11, 161, Jr.
K: Miller Synder, Myers Park, 6-1, 180, Sr.THIRD TEAM OFFENSE
QB: Riley Ferguson, Butler, 6-2, 180, So.
RB: Romar Morris, Salisbury, 5-11, 185, Sr.
RB: Brian Baltimore, Concord Hickory Ridge, 5-8, 190, Sr.
TE: Darren Alberton, Myers Park, 6-3, 215, Sr.
WR: Robert Joseph, Rock Hill Northwestern, 5-9, 170, Sr.
WR: Cody Clanton, China Grove Carson, 6-3, 175, Sr.
WR: Jacques Moore, Concord, 6-2, 175, Sr.
OL: Danny Brook, Concord Hickory Ridge, 6-6, 240, Sr.
OL: Sheldon Saddler, Kannapolis Brown, 6-1, 285, Sr.
OL: Christian Little, Concord First Assembly, 6-5, 325, Sr.
OL: Michael Scott, Albemarle, 6-4, 205, Sr.
OL: Carson Ginn, Belmont South Point, Ht/Wt NA, Sr.
SPEC: John Knox, Salisbury, 6-0, 180, Sr.
K: Paul Griggs, Charlotte Latin, 6-0, 180, Jr.
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL: Jadeveon Clowney
Rock Hill South Pointe, 6-6, 252, Sr.
Repeats as defensive player of the year after getting 167 tackles, 32.5 sacks and scoring five defensive touchdowns.
DL: Alex Glover
Mallard Creek, 6-1, 215, Sr.
I-MECK 4A defensive player of the year had 83 tackles, 13 sacks, one forced fumble, three recoveries. Two-time all-league pick.
DL: Colin Parsons
Butler, 6-3, 240, Sr.
90 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 16 sacks for unbeaten N.C. 4AA champions who won with dominant defense.
DL: Gerald Dixon
Rock Hill Northwestern, 6-4, 280 Sr.
Four-year letterman offered a scholarship by South Carolina, had 78 tackles, 10 sacks, 5 tackles for loss. S.C. Shrine Bowl pick.
LB: Kris Frost
Butler, 6-3, 220, Sr.
Top defensive player for state champions. All-Meck defensive player of the year and U.S. Army All-American had 105 tackles, five sacks, though teams consistently ran away from him.
LB: Stephone Anthony
Anson Senior., 6-3, 220, Sr.
Gatorade N.C. player of the year had 123 tackles and four sacks plus two interceptions and four forced fumbles. Under Armour All-American rushed for 302 yards and seven touchdowns on 50 carries.
LB: Stephan Amoah
Butler, 6-1, 215, Sr.
Leading tackler for N.C. 4AA champs. Had 179 tackles, 11 for loss and six sacks. Had 15 tackles, team-high, in 44-0 state championship win over Wake Forest-Rolesville.
DB: Eric Cowan
West Rowan, 5-10, 170, Sr.
Rowan County defensive player of the year had 160 tackles, 5 interceptions. Scored five times: two on punts, one on a kickoff, one on Interception and one on a fake punt. Three-time state champion.
DB: Jamison Crowder
Monroe, 5-9, 160, Sr.
Committed to Duke, Crowder had more than 1,400 total yards and 20 TDs on offense at mainly WR. Scored on punts, fumbles and interceptions. Had 59 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and 10 pass breakups. Rocky River conference player of the year.
DB: Rhaheim Ledbetter
Boiling Springs Crest, 5-11, 190, Jr.
Had 56 tackles, five for loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles for N.C. 3AA state finalist. Ledbetter intercepted two passes, returning one for a score.
DB: Domonique Noble
West Rowan, 6-2, 190, Sr.
Georgia Tech commit and Shrine Bowl pick had six interceptions this season while moving from CB to SS to FS. Had three interceptions in three state final appearances.
SPEC: Darien Rankin
Salisbury, 6-0, 190, Sr.
Three-sport athlete (basketball, track) had 163 tackles this season at DB plus two interceptions and eight passes broken up. Was also dangerous punt returner for N.C. 2AA champions.
P: Tommy Hibbard
Butler, 5-10, 180, Sr.
Averaged 49.9 yards per punt for the two-time N.C. 4AA state champions.
DL: Gerald Dixon, Rock Hill South Pointe, 6-3, 265, Sr.
DL: Emmanuel Gbunblee, West Rowan, 6-1, 225, Sr.
DL: Jonathan Bullard, Boiling Springs Crest, 6-4, 255, Sr.
DL: Adam Farley, Charlotte Catholic, 6-1, 325, Sr.
LB: Aaron Frye, Lenoir Hibriten, 5-9, 206, Sr.
LB: Michael Cunningham, Lincolnton, Ht, Wt NA, Jr.
LB: Colton Walls, Charlotte Latin, 6-2, 230, Sr.
DB: Damarrell Alexander, Indian Trail Porter Ridge, 5-10, 165, Sr.
DB: Calvin Hunter, Vance, 5-10, 170, Sr.
DB: Austin Stewart, Butler, 6-1, 190, Sr.
DB: Matthias Farley, Charlotte Christian, 6-1, 195, Sr.
SPEC: Kaylen Pearson, Lenoir Hibriten, 5-11, 165, Sr.
P: Landon Ard, Rock Hill South Pointe, 5-11, 170, Sr.
DL: Lucas Fisher, Unionville Piedmont, 6-5, 255, Sr.
DL: D.J. Bostick, NW Cabarrus, 5-11, 270, Sr.
DL: Stephen Burns, Alexander Central, 6-2, 255, Sr.
DL: Larell Jones, Albemarle, 6-3, 275, Sr.
LB: Kavari Hillie, Salisbury, 5-11, 215, Jr.
LB: Shontigo Parker, Albemarle, 5-8, 190, Sr.
LB: Aaron Sigmon, Marshville Forest Hills, 6-0, 220, Sr.
DB: Jarrell Robinson, Indian Land, 6-3, 175, Sr.
DB: Montrece Kennedy, Rock Hill Northwestern, 5-11, 165, Jr.
DB: David Crouch, South Caldwell, 6-2, 178, Jr.
DB: Jalen Sowell, Monroe, 6-0, 170, Sr.
SPEC: Tyler Rhyne, Concord First Assembly, 5-11, 190, Sr.
P: Matt Wogan, Indian Trail Porter Ridge, 6-2, 185, So.