Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Davidson Day QB Will Grier picks Florida

Davidson Day's record setting junior quarterback Will Grier will play college football at Florida.

Grier, 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, was named the Gatorade N.C. high school football player of the year and was named the quarterback of the N.C. Associated Press all-state football team.

As a sophomore, he completed 250-of-398 passes for 3,785 yards and 49 touchdowns while rushing 97 times for 925 yards and 11 scores.

Last season, he completed 324-of-414 passes for a N.C. record 5,785 yards and a N.C. record 69 touchdowns. He rushed 95 times for 813 yards and eight touchdowns.

He sat national records with 837 yards and 10 touchdowns in a playoff game and led Davidson Day to its second straight state championship.

Two weeks ago, Grier attended a Florida practice an team banquet and his father said it became obvious to the junior quarterback that he wanted to go to Gainesville. Grier will graduate from Davidson Day in December 2013 and enroll at Florida in January 2014, allowing to participate in off-season workouts prior to the start of the 2014 season.

"Will is blessed to have this opportunity and feels so strongly about it that he is ready to commit now so he can focus on his schoolwork, improving his game and helping his team prepare for a third consecutive state championship next year," Grier's father and coach, Chad said. "He has been humbled by the amount of attention he has received from colleges across the country and is very appreciative of the relationships he has established with several coaches. Will is a fierce competitor and he is excited about the opportunity to help Florida win national championships."

Grier announced his five finalists last month, listing Florida as the leader followed by -- in the order he listed them -- UNC, Tennessee, N.C. State and Oregon.

Chad Grier said his son's relationship with the Florida coaching staff was a large part of the decision.

"Will is extremely comfortable with (head) coach (Will) Muschamp and (assistant) coach (Brent) Pease, both of whom made him feel as if he will be a big part of the Gators future," Chad Grier said. "(Will) has had great visits to Florida and has been most impressed by the academic reputation, the strength and conditioning staff, the culture of the program, the level of competition both within the program and within the SEC, and the projected 2013 recruiting class. I spoke with Coach Muschamp and Coach Pease yesterday and I am very proud that Will is going to play for men who care about him as a young man and who believe in him as a player."


Grier will participate in the Under Armour Combine in St Petersburg, Fla Jan 4 and will attend the 58th annual Columbus, Ohio Touchdown Club Awards Banquet in February.

He plans to play baseball for Davidson Day and will attend the Manning QB Academy and the Elite 11 QB camp, his father said.

Below is a highlight video from his 2012 season.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

East Lincoln's Mike Byus named NC AP prep football coach of the year


By AARON BEARD
 AP Sports Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – East Lincoln coach Mike Byus followed an unbeaten run to a state championship by being named The Associated Press high school football coach of the year for North Carolina for the 2012 season. 
Byus led the school to its first state title in football, completing the run with a win against three-time defending champion Tarboro in the Class 2-A final. 
“The right place, the right time, the right group of kids combined with the right coaching staff,” Byus said. “If you do something like this, obviously you get a break here and there. You can't do something like that without getting the breaks to bounce your way a few times.” 
Byus earned 10 of a possible 17 votes from sports writers across the state in results released Tuesday. Matthews Butler's Brian Hales was second with three votes after guiding the Bulldogs (15-0) to a third 4-AA championship in four seasons. 
Madison County's Mark Gosnell was third with two votes – the only other coach to receive more than one vote – after guiding the program to a school-record 13 victories. 
Byus, 51, is in his eighth season at East Lincoln (16-0), which averaged nearly 41 points per game and won games by an average margin of 24 points. The team continued to thrive all season, even after losing senior quarterback Garrett Young for two games due to a knee injury. 
East Lincoln trailed only three times all season, the last coming in the 2-A final before scoring the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. 
East Lincoln led Tarboro 17-6 at half of the state final before giving up 14 straight points in the third quarter and falling behind. But the Mustangs responded with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Young's 13-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Brock with 7:55 left and ultimately gave East Lincoln the championship. 
Byus credited his players, saying they always put in the work to prepare for any opponent. 
“I talked to them all year about reaching their ceiling,” Byus said. “I said, `Guys, I don't know how good we can be, but I want you to be as good as you can be.’ … So after the (final) game, my quarterback came up to me and said, `Hey coach, did we reach our ceiling?' I said, `I think we pretty much did about all we could do.“’ AP-WF-12-18-12 2115GMT




The voting breakdown for the 2012 Associated Press prep football coach of the year for North Carolina, as cast by 17 sports writers around the state. 
Mike Byus, East Lincoln (10) 
Brian Hales, Matthews Butler (3) 
Mark Gosnell, Madison County (2) 
Jeff Craddock, Tarboro (1) 
Carson Gowan, McDowell County (1)


Winners of The Associated Press prep football coach of the year award for North Carolina: 
2012–Mike Byus, East Lincoln 
2011–Jim Bob Bryant, Havelock 
2010–Scott Young, West Rowan 
2009–Joey Price, Wallace-Rose Hill 
2008–Scott Young, West Rowan 
2007–Ken Avent Jr., Warsaw Kenan 
2006–Chris Norman, Shelby 
2005–Danny Wilkins, Asheville 
2004–Greg Thomas, Greenville Rose 
2003–Roy Kirby, Shelby Crest 
2002–DeWayne Kellum, Chocowinity Southside 
2001–Bob Lewis, Clinton 
2000–(tie) Rick Brown, Durham Jordan; Tom Knotts, Charlotte Independence 
1999–Harold Robinson, Williamston 
1998–Daryl Barnes, Richmond County 
1997–Daryl Barnes, Richmond County 
1996–David Elder, Hickory 
1995–Allen Brown, Thomasville 
1994–Anthony Price, Durham 
1993–Ken Browning, Northern Durham 
1992–Ken Browning, Northern Durham 
1991–(tie) David Gutshall, Burlington Cummings; Walter Barnhill, Hoke County 
1990–Ray Davis, Southern Nash 
1989–Bobby Poss, Hope Mills South View 
1988–Jim Taylor, Shelby 
1987–(tie) Clyde Parrish, Red Springs; Jim Biggerstaff, Belmont South Point 
1986–Mickey Bridgers, Northern Nash 
1985–Denny Hicks, Kings Mountain 
1984–Marion Kirby, Greensboro Page 
1983–Glenn Sasser, Charlotte Myers Park 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Olympic coach left with $8,100 credit card charge when tournament folds

Olympic High coach Ty Baumgardner has been left with an $8,100 charge on his personal credit card after a post-Christmas tournament his team was supposed to play in suddenly folded.

The nationally ranked Trojans were scheduled to play in the Gulfshore Invitational Dec. 27-31 along with about two dozen other top programs from around the country. Baumgardner prepaid $8,100 for 20 airline tickets for his team and staff, charging them to his personal credit card under assurances from tournament organizers that he would be reimbursed.

Last Friday, tournament organizer Alexander Getta emailed coaches, including Baumgardner, that the tournament would be canceled due to lack of sponsorships. Getta initially found another sponsor, but told coaches he would not be able to uphold a promised $10,000 travel stipend. Teams began to drop out and forced Getta to shutter the event.

That move left Baumgardner in a tough spot. US Airways, so far, has not been willing to reverse the airline charges. Baumgardner said it was offering a credit -- after a $150 fee, per ticket, to change iternary.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Baumgarnder said. “US Airways has been very helpful, but the people we’ve talked to so far have said their policy is tickets are non-refundable. They can give a credit, but it’s $150 to change destinations. We’ve been in contact with some higher ups to see if anything can be done because of this unusual circumstance. Maybe they’ll show some holiday cheer and help us out.”

-- Olympic is also out three games. It’ll be hard to replace them since N.C. public schools have a 24-game play limit and most schedules are filled. Private schools in the area are more flexible but Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has a rule preventing scheudling non-tournament regular-season games with privates.

As a last resort, Baumgardner said he might ask CMS to waive the rule, but he hoped to possible find games to fill the schedule.

Wertz column (link): This incident should open door for CMS to allow public-private competition

West Charlotte boys, Myers Park girls still atop Observer Sweet 16 polls

Rk.
School (Class)
Rec.
Prv.
1.
West Charlotte (4A)
6-0
1
2.
Olympic (4A)
6-0
2
3.
Concord (3A)
5-0
3
4.
Cuthbertson (2A)
9-0
5
5. 
Ardrey Kell (4A)
7-0
9
6. 
Vance (4A)
6-1
4
7. 
Hunter Huss (3A)
6-1
11
8.
Mallard Creek (4A)
7-0
13
9.
Shelby (2A)
6-1
7
10.
Hickory (3A)
4-2
6
11.
Statesville (3A)
3-1
NR
12.
East Rutherford (2A)
6-1
10
13. 
Rock Hill South Pointe (4A)
6-0
NR
14.
North Rowan (1A)
4-2
14
15.
Lake Norman (4A)
7-1
NR
16.
Hough (4A)
5-2
15


Dropped Out: Harding (3A, 4-3); South Mecklenburg (4A, 3-4); Charlotte Christian (IND, 6-3). Also receiving consideration: Piedmont (2A, 6-0); Foard (3A, 8-0); St. Stephens (3A, 7-0); NW Cabarrus (3A, 5-0); Rock Hill (4A, 5-1)
Girls
Rk.
School (Class)
Rec.
Prv.
1.
Myers Park (4A)
7-0
1
2.
Ardrey Kell (4A)
7-0
2
3. 
Hickory (3A)
6-0
3
4. 
West Rowan (3A)
8-0
8
5.
Hough (4A)
5-1
10
6.
Crest (3A)
5-0
13
7. 
Forestview (3A)
6-1
4
8. 
Providence Day (IND)
8-2
5
9.
North Mecklenburg (4A)
7-1
9
10.
Carson (3A)
7-1
12
11.
West Charlotte (4A)
4-1
15
12.
Charlotte Christian (IND)
8-2
6
13. 
Harding (3A)
5-2
7
14.
Alexander Central (4A)
9-0
NR
15.
Clover, SC (4A)
6-0
NR
16.
South Point (3A)
7-0
NR

Dropped Out: Robinson (3A, 2-3); Berry (3A, 4-4). Also receiving consideration: Rock Hill Northwestern (4A, 5-1); Freedom (3A, 6-1); Monroe (1A, 3-0)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

West Charlotte jumps into USA Today national poll

West Charlotte’s boys (5-0) are No. 1 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 boys’ basketball poll. After a win over national power DeMatha Catholic (Md.) Saturday, the Lions moved to No. 22 in USA Today's national poll. West Charlotte is ranked 23rd by MaxPreps in its national poll.


Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/12/12/3723002/grier-adds-to-list-of-accomplishments.html#storylink=cpy

Davidson Day QB Will Grier named N.C. Gatorade state football player of the year

From staff reports

CHICAGO (November 29, 2012) — In its 28th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Will Grier of Davidson Day School as its 2012-13 Gatorade North Carolina Football Player of the Year. Grier is the first Gatorade North Carolina Football Player of the Year to be chosen from Davidson Day School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Grier as North Carolina’s best high school football player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award announced in December, Grier joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.), Wes Welker (1999-00, Heritage Hall HS, Okla.), Terrell Suggs (1999-00, Hamilton HS, Ariz.), Anquan Boldin (1998-99, Pahokee HS, Fla.) and Jerome Bettis (1989-90, Mackenzie HS, Mich.).

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound junior quarterback led the Patriots (11-2) to the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state championship this season. A returning MaxPreps All-American, Grier threw for state-record totals of 5,785 yards and 69 touchdowns against just six interceptions, completing 324-of-414 passes (78 percent). He also rushed for 813 yards and eight touchdowns on 92 carries. In three NCISAA Division II state playoff games, Grier completed 83-of-103 attempts for 1,749 yards and 21 TDs in addition to rushing for 111 yards and three scores on 18 carries. His 834 yards and 10 touchdowns through the air in a 104-80 victory against Harrells Christian Academy in the state semifinals set unofficial national records.

Grier has maintained a 3.70 weighted GPA in the classroom. In addition to donating his time as a youth football and basketball instructor, he has volunteered extensively on behalf of his church and at an area retirement facility.

“I think he is the best high school quarterback I’ve ever faced as a coach,” said Larry McNulty, head coach of rival Charlotte Latin High since 1985. “He’s going to go to pretty much any college he wants. He’s that talented. He’s a very, very, very good high school player and a quality young man. That whole program revolves around Will Grier.”

Grier will begin his senior year of high school next fall.

Monday, December 10, 2012

9 new teams join Observer Sweet 16 basketball polls

Here are the Charlotte Observer Sweet 16 basketball polls for the week of Monday, Dec. 10

Boys
Rk.    School (Class)    Rec.    Prv.
1.    West Charlotte (4A)    4-0    1
2.    Olympic (4A)    3-0    2
3.    Concord (3A)    3-0    3
4.    Vance (4A)    4-0    7
5.     Cuthbertson (2A)    6-0    8
6.     Hickory (3A)    3-1    4
7.     Shelby (2A)    5-0    16
8.    Harding (3A)    2-2    5
9.    Ardrey Kell (4A)    6-0    NR
10.    East Rutherford (2A)    5-0    NR
11.    Hunter Huss (3A)    3-1    NR
12.    South Mecklenburg (4A)    2-2    6
13.     Mallard Creek (4A)    4-0    NR
14.    North Rowan (1A)    4-2    14
15.    Hough (4A)    3-1    NR
16.    Charlotte Christian (IND)    4-2    15
Dropped Out: Rock Hill Northwestern (4A, 1-5); Freedom (3A, 3-2); Garinger (4A, 1-4); Myers Park (4A, 2-3); Rock Hill (4A, 2-1). Also receiving consideration: Charlotte Latin (IND, 6-1); Foard (3A, 4-0); NW Cabarrus (3A, 3-0)

Girls
Rk.    School (Class)    Rec.    Prv.
1.    Myers Park (4A)    5-0    1
2.    Ardrey Kell (4A)    6-0    2
3.     Hickory (3A)    4-0    6
4.     Forestview (3A)    5-0    8
5.    Providence Day (IND)    6-1    9
6.    Charlotte Christian (IND)    6-1    3
7.     Harding (3A)    3-1    5
8.     West Rowan (3A)    4-0    NR
9.    North Mecklenburg (4A)    6-0    NR
10.    Hough (4A)    3-1    10
11.    Lake Norman (4A)    4-1    14
12.    Carson (3A)    5-1    NR
13.     Crest (3A)    2-0    NR
14.    Robinson (3A)    2-1    11
15.    West Charlotte (4A)    2-1    12
16.    Berry (3A)    2-3    4
Dropped Out: R-S Central (3A, 3-3); West Mecklenburg (4A, 2-3); Lake Norman Charter (IND, 0-3); Anson Senior (3A, 2-0-1). Also receiving consideration: Kings Mountain (3A, 5-0); Parkwood (3A, 4-0); Crest (3A, 2-0); Alexander Central (4A, 6-0); Porter Ridge (4A, 3-1)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hough wins state cheerleading championship


RALEIGH— Apex Middle Creek captured the Carolina Cup in the 10th annual North Carolina High School Athletic Association state invitational cheerleading championships at the Raleigh Convention Center on Saturday.
Cheer Ltd., Inc., the NCHSAA’s corporate partner that assists with the invitational championship, has established the Carolina Cup to recognize annually the top high school varsity cheerleading team in the state. It goes to the varsity-level team that earns the highest cumulative score in the whole competition, regardless of the division in which it competes.
Middle Creek scored 128.6 points, the highest score of the entire event, to win the large varsity division and grab the Carolina Cup.
Previous winners of the Cup include Ledford, Raleigh Millbrook, Jamestown Ragsdale, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons, North Gaston and Raleigh Sanderson.
Ledford earned the title in the super large varsity division. Cornelius W.A.Hough was the top squad in the medium varsity division and Raleigh Leesville Road was the champion in the small varsity division.
In other varsity results, the non tumble categories went to Canton Pisgah in the large and North Buncombe in the small.
East Forsyth took top honors in the small varsity co-ed division while Davie was the winner of the large varsity co-ed competition. Northern Vance was first in the high school non-mount category.
In junior varsity competition, Weddington was the champion in the small junior varsity division while Greenville D.H. Conley took the large jayvee category and Eastern Guilford captured the junior varsity non-tumble division.
A total of 119 teams registered to participate in the event.


NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
10th annual Invitational Cheerleading Championship
Raleigh Convention Center
December 8, 2012

Final results: champions are listed, followed by the runners-up and point totals in each division.

Small junior varsity (5 to 15 members)
Champion— Weddington (105.9).
Corinth-Holders 101.65, Apex Middle Creek 100.65, Jacksonville White Oak 91.85, Havelock 89.05.

Large junior varsity (16 and up)
Champion— Greenville D.H. Conley (110.15).
Panther Creek 107.4, Cary Green Hope 103.7, Holly Springs 103.35, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons 103.05, Lenoir Hibriten 102.85, Newport Croatan 99.75, Wilmington Hoggard 87.1, Western Harnett 85.05, East Duplin 79.1.

Junior varsity non-tumble
Champion— Eastern Guilford (108.05).
South Lenoir 104.6, Pembroke Purnell Swett 104.15, East Forsyth 103.4, SouthWest Edgecombe 102.05, Fayetteville Pine Forest 101.05, Canton Pisgah 97.45, Lumberton 96.0, Wilson Fike 94.75, Camden 94.6, Rocky Point Heide Trask 89.2, Wilson Hunt 88.7, Hampstead Topsail 88.25, Lake Norman Charter 78.8.

High school non-mount
Champion--Northern Vance (75.55).

Small varsity non tumble
Champion--North Buncombe (114.15).
Franklinton 112.4, Camden 111, Hampstead Topsail 110.95, Asheville A.C. Reynolds 109.55, SouthWest Edgecombe 108.1, Eastern Guilford 102.7, Matthews David Butler 99.05, Swain 98.25, Durham N.C. School of Science and Math 96.7, Hope Mills South View 95.8, Forest Hills 95.75, Durham Voyage Academy 95.65, Pasquotank 95.05, Wilson Fike 94.05, Pamlico 92.8, Oxford Webb 90.2, Rocky Point Heide Trask 77.7.

Large varsity non tumble
Champion-- Canton Pisgah (113.1)
East Bend Forbush 112.7, Currituck County 111.35, Elizabeth City Northeastern 102.8, Southern Wayne 100.75, Jamestown Ragsdale 100.6, South Brunswick 98.7, Warren County 98.55, Hope Mills Gray's Creek 97.3, Farmville Central 97.2, East Duplin 95.75, West Brunswick 95.35, East Mecklenburg 94.65, North Johnston 94.45, Tarboro 93.85, Havelock 87.35, Rocky Mount 87, Wilmington New Hanover 83.15.

Small varsity (5 fo 12 members)
Champion-- Raleigh Leesville Road (103.95).
Roxboro Community 75.9

Medium varsity (13 to 16 members)
Champion— Cornelius W.A. Hough (125.1).
Maiden 116.7, Asheville T.C. Roberson 111.8, Harnett Central 104.15, Monroe Piedmont 102.35, Cherryville 101.45, Charlotte Catholic 99.8, North Lincoln 99.6, Wilmington Hoggard 99.1, South Iredell 95.45, Greensboro Dudley 88.8, Lake Norman Charter 87.5, Knightdale 86.8, Newport Croatan 85.85, Dixon 84.75, Swansboro 75.75, Monroe Parkwood 70.65.

Large varsity (17 to 20 members)
Champion-- Apex Middle Creek (128.6).
Raleigh Sanderson 125.8, Waxhaw Marvin Ridge 120.2, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons 119.85, Indian Trail Porter Ridge 115.9, Cary Green Hope 111.8, Greenville D.H. Conley 111, South Lenoir 109.95, Corinth Holders 109.1, Southern Alamance 108.6, Randleman 100.85, Weddington 99.3, Fayetteville Terry Sanford 82.1.

Super large varsity (21-plus members)
Champion— Ledford (115.4).
Holly Springs 115.35, Lake Norman 113, North Gaston 112.5, Fuquay-Varina 104.15, Cary 99.1, Winterville South Central 96.65, Northwest Guilford 95.65, Pikeville Charles B. Aycock 95.35, Cleveland 89.3.

Small varsity coed (2 to 4 males)
Champion— East Forsyth (110.9).
Overhills 108.9, Lumberton 105.9, South Caldwell 99.05, Raleigh Athens Drive 86.55, Fairmont 77.95, Western Harnett 74.85.

Large varsity coed (more than 4 males)
Champion-- Davie (116.85).
Pembroke Purnell Swett 88.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

No. 2 Olympic kicks off season in style, 102-48 over Butler

Olympic coach Ty Baumgardner said he didn’t have to give his team, ranked No. 2 in the Charlotte Observer Sweet 16 poll, any speeches about playing with enthusiasm or energy before Tuesday’s game at Butler.

The Trojans, No. 2 in the Sweet 16, were the last Charlotte-Mecklenburg team to kick off the season, and Baumgardner said they were tired of playing against themselves.

Olympic beat Butler 102-48. The Trojans led 31-10 after the first quarter and 62-22 at halftime. It was the first game back for several key Butler players who were part of the Bulldogs’ third N.C. 4AA football championship in four years Saturday.

“The score is misleading,” said Baumgardner, whose team has a huge game at No. 12 Myers Park Friday. “The football players played but it was after one day of practice. Butler will be much better when those guys get into basketball shape.”

Olympic had six players in double figures: Deriece Parks (10), Javon Patton (16), C.J. Jackson (14), Dante Simmons (14), B.J. Gladden (15) and Quincy Eaddy (11).

“We played OK,” Baumgardner said. “We did some things well and there were some things we didn’t do so well. We have a lot to work on.”

Link to photo slideshow from this game

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Butler's place in history and the top 10 Meck Co teams ever

Now that I've had time to think about it, I wanted to address where I think 2012 Butler's place in Mecklenburg County history is.

And I think it's pretty far up there.

I guess the only thing that's really unfortunate is we never got to see this team at full strength. QB Riley Ferguson missed six of 15 games with a broken hand. Stud defensive lineman Grant Polofsky missed the stretch run with a torn ACL. Even in the championship game, as Butler built leads of as much as 42 points against overmatched Fayetteville Britt, the Bulldogs lost their best two-way player, Michigan recruit Channing Stribling, to what coach Brian Hales called a deep thigh bruise.

At full strength all year, these Bulldogs could've been extra scary. As it was, Butler was rarely pressed and pretty much cruised to a third state title in four years, polishing off a four-year run where Butler was 57-2.

Impressive.

So, where does this team -- blessed with a stud tailback (Josh Glisson), one of the nation's best quarterbacks (Riley Ferguson), one of the nation's best receivers (Uriah LeMay), one of the nation's best linebackers (Peter Kalambay) and several guys who would start for ANYONE in the state (Stribling, Polofsky, LB Sean Wiggins) -- where does it stand against the best in Mecklenburg County history?

I think it matches up favorably with all that have come before it.

Now, I think some of the great Charlotte Catholic teams and some of the all-time great private school teams at Country Day and Charlotte Latin don't make the top 10 list because they simply didn't have the size, speed or numbers to compete with the other super teams here. That's no knock against them. They were all great teams, but here we're talking about the Mount Olympus of Mecklenburg County football, and here's my list:

10. HARDING 1952-53: I put both teams together. The Rams, coached by the legendary Dave Harris, didn't lose a game for 35 straight games and won two state titles.

9. CHARLOTTE CATHOLIC 2005: For me, this was the best Cougars team. Big offensive line. Stud running backs. Speed. It won by an average of 23 points and these Cougars held nine teams to seven points or less in rout to a state 3AA title.

8. MALLARD CREEK 2010: One of two teams on my list that didn't win a state championship. This team was nationally ranked and beating teams by nearly 50 points per game behind All-American QB Marquise Williams. Williams injured his ankle against Ardrey Kell in a second round playoff and was limited in a quarterfinal game against Vance. With Williams at full strength, Mallard Creek beat Vance 44-24 in the regular-season. With him sitting much of the rematch and limited, Mallard Creek lost the rematch 10-7 and ruined what could've been one of the greatest matchups in county history: nationally ranked Mallard Creek against nationally ranked Butler, which later won the 2010 state title.

7. SOUTH MECKLENBURG 1981: Led by superstar tailbacks Steve Griffin and Kelvin Crooms, a pair of Shrine Bowlers, the Sabres shut out two playoff opponents and allowed the other two to score just 17 points and rolled to a 14-win unbeaten season and a 27-14 win over Fayetteville Sanford in the NC 4A championship game.

6. WEST CHARLOTTE 1996: The second non-championship winning team on my list. This was the best West Charlotte team I've ever seen led by All-American QB Keith Matkins, who signed with South Carolina, and USA Today offensive national player of the year Steve Shipp, a wide receiver who signed with Florida. The '95 Lions won the NC 4A championship and this team was ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation in 1996. It held seven opponents to eight or fewer points with future Wilmington Hoggard state championship winning coach Scott Braswell and future Independence head coach Bill Geiler coaching the defense and the county's best ever coach, Tom Knotts, running the team and the offense. But the Lions D fell apart in a 42-41 home playoff loss to Greensboro Page behind a splendid tailback named Carlos Doggett. Had this team won it all, as expected, it would challenge, still, for the best ever around here.


5. BUTLER 2010: Won its games by nearly 35 points per game behind sophomore QB Riley Ferguson. It's scary to think how good this team may've been if senior Christian LeMay was back. LeMay didn't play but he was the nation's No. 2 ranked quarterback in 2010 and he eventually signed with Georgia. As it was, Butler still averaged 46 points per game, held seven teams to single digits and won the state final -- behind Auburn-bound stud linebacker Kris Frost -- 44-0 over Wake Forest-Rolesville.

4. INDEPENDENCE 2002: Chris Leak's senior year and he has at the height of his (high school) abilities. This team won by an average of nearly 40 points and outscored playoff teams 207-40. Knotts got a viral illness in the playoffs and wasn't himself. He missed a 20-7 playoff win over Scotland Senior but this team kept rolling. Of all the teams I rank here, this one might be low.


3. BUTLER 2012: I think this team slots in here. Hard to deny all the high major Division I recruits and just pure overall talent. Like so many of my teams on this list, you wonder good it really could've been with Ferguson and Polofsky healthy, but these Bulldogs were dominant for nearly the entire season and put a huge exclamation point on the season with one of the more lopsided championship games I've ever seen. There was never any doubt.

2. INDEPENDENCE 2004: This was the biggest Independence team, with Division I sized linemen, superior skill athletes and All-America QB Joe Cox quarterbacking the whole thing. The state's overall talent was down and Charlotte was a good bit down, but man, these guys were good. They won by an average of 46 points. The closest game was a 47-19 win over Richmond Senior in the semifinals.

1 INDEPENDENCE 2001: For my money, Leak -- a three-time national high school player of the year (two in his age group, one overall) -- is the best prep player ever from Mecklenburg County. This was his best team. These Patriots won by nearly 40 points per game and began the year with a 77-13 win over an Austin East (Tenn) team that came in with a national ranking and a state championship win streak. The 2001 season ended with a 49-25 win over Wilmington Laney in a state final where the Patriots faced a bit of a chllenge -- and rolled to Leak's second straight state title.