Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mallard Creek's place in history and the top 10 all-time Meck Co. teams

It is a testament to Mecklenburg County football that nearly every year now I'm trying to figure out where great players like Charlotte Catholic's Elijah Hood rank against his peers from the past, or where all these great teams that are popping up compare to the teams of yesteryear.
After watching Mallard Creek dispose of Wake Forest 59-21 in the 2013 state finals, I'm back at the think tank. 
I believe in Jaylen Samuels, the Mavericks have a player who can measure against the greats and the Mavericks have a defense that can, too. I"ve seen few defensive units hit with the velocity these guys do. Mallard Creek has size and team speed and I can't say I can remember a team since 2004 Independence leave as many players limping after plays.
Mallard Creek lost senior QB Emiere Scaife early in the season to ankle surgery and sophomore James Smith was thrown into the system a year early. Smith did wonderfully well. He was his team's offensive MVP in the state final after throwing for 180 yards and three touchdowns. So this is nothing against Smith, but the Mavericks coaches settled on Scaife as the starter because they felt he was the better guy

With Scaife this team could perhaps have ranked way up my list. As it stands, I'm going to slot them in at No. 9, dropping 2005 Charlotte Catholic into a 10th place tie with two Harding teams (1952 and '53). And yes this is cheating, but for this exercise it's OK.

Now, before you hit send on that email, know that some of the great 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 (TIE).. 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.

10. (TIE). 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.
9. MALLARD CREEK 2013: See above.

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 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.

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 how good it really could've been with QB Riley Ferguson  healthy all season (Ferguson missed games with a hand injury), 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 challenge -- and then rolled to Leak's second straight state title.


Anonymous said...

2004 indy was definitely the best this state has ever seen averaging 54 points a game and only 8 against them. They signed 14 seniors that year. Bill Geiler was the head coach that year as Tom knotts was coaching at duke but indy coaches even say '04 was the best year.

Anonymous said...

Yea whatever. Did Wertz forget South who opened in '59 won 2 state 4a titles in '66 and '81?

There he goes again band wagon hopping with his motto always go with the winners and you never lose.

Add a spec exception at #11 Atlanta Fulton Westlake HS where a (in)famous resident/player went 5-5 in 2005 and 6-6 in 2006 with an amazing 2500 pass yds and 25 tds in 2005 and 1500 pass yds with 10 tds in 2006.
This proves there is hope for any to go pro regardless how good bad or mediocre you are (if you play the right game) State titles and record books are for chumps.

Anonymous said...

LOL (bandwagon) also think it's clear that Langston will be selecting Hood as his player of the year. Been a pretty aggressive campaign since mid season.

Anonymous said...

One clink in Mallard Creek's armour. They beat a very small school in S.C. only 28-21 and trailed well into the 4th qtr. The 2004 Indy team never trailed in a game and punted 15 times all years. Every skill position player was a d-1 recruit. Junior Hakeem Nicks sat on the bench!

Anonymous said...

Nice pick with the 96 West Charlotte team. I played for Scott Braswell in high school

I gotta say that no Charlotte Catholic doesn't belong on this list. That 2005 year they never played anybody good. They beat a bunch of South Charlotte schools and almost lost a few games. For example they almost lost to Tuscola which is in Waynesville. Does anybody even know where Waynesville is? If any of the other teams on this list played them it wouldn't be a 7 point game.

Anonymous said...

Indy 2004 better than 2001 with superior line play and defense. More depth also.

Indy 2003 close to 2002 and should be on the list.

Anonymous said...

Why is some wantabe hating on Cat and SChar schools so bad who used to kick DubC butt up and down the field?
They has a few decent teams when they had coaches but thats long gone. We made them cry like babies. They knew who their daddy was. 95 and 96 were decent but dont go overboard with the bragging sounding like that Newton mess baited by this downtown media ho rag.


Anonymous said...

Leak over the Newton clown any day of the week or year ...

Anonymous said...

2010 MC team not even close to 2013. Would rank below 2011 MC team. Williams was very good but total team 1-35 was much better this year

Anonymous said...

"One clink[sic] in Mallard Creek's armour. They beat a very small school in S.C. only 28-21 and trailed well into the 4th qtr."

Dillon, SC is the 2012, and 2013 SC 2A State Champions. Any NC team that can go to Dillon in August and come away with a win has accomplished something. They have as much D1 talent as any NC 4A school MC played this year. MC led most of that game but Dillon did give them a scare. The game ended up being a great way for both teams to start the season. The only bad result of the game was that Dillon's star quarterback was injured late in the game and missed much of their season.

Anonymous said...

While you kiddies are on the subject Garinger High School opened in 1959 and won a state 4a title in 1959. Top that !

This selective paper also loves to revise and omit Charlotte HS opened in 1909 and later called Central High in 1923 (now CPCC) who won 11 state football titles until it closed in 1959 and moved to Garinger. Games were played at Memorial Stadium 1923-1958

Anonymous said...

Myers Park won a 4a title in 1965 and East won one in 1977.

West Charlotte won a NCHSAC state title in 1954 and 2nd Ward won in 1963 before it closed in 1969.