Myers Park, Drake Maye, start season hot against Olympic

Led by Alabama recruit Drake Maye, Myers Park blitzed Olympic in its season-opener Monday, Aug. 26, 2019

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Led by Alabama recruit Drake Maye, Myers Park blitzed Olympic in its season-opener Monday, Aug. 26, 2019

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After watching Myers Park High School beat Olympic 42-0 in its season-opener Monday, a season-opener a lot of people have been waiting to see, I’ve got a confession to make:

Potentially — potentially — this Myers Park offense, and perhaps this Myers Park team, can be an all-time great within Mecklenburg County.

I’m talking about the potential to be as powerful as the best of the Independence High dynasty, which won seven straight state championships from 2000-06, and potentially as dynamic as the Mallard Creek teams that won three straight titles from 2013-15, or the Butler High teams that won three in four years from 2009-12.

I’m talking the best of the best.

But unlike some of those teams, Myers Park, No. 2 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 poll, has a definite potential foil in No. 1 Mallard Creek, which may be revving up one of, if not its best teams (more on that later).

But this Myers Park group has a ceiling that’s as high as any I’ve seen in awhile. And they know it.

“It’s crazy,” said Myers Park senior receiver Porter Rooks. “It’s almost like playing Madden (the videogame).”

In Drake Maye, Myers Park has a junior quarterback who is ranked among the top five nationally at his position. He’s committed to Alabama, one of the preeminent powers in college football. There’s not been too many guys like that who have come through here.

Maye is 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds now, a few inches bigger and much thicker than a year ago. He slings the ball around with an accuracy I’ve rarely seen in a Mecklenburg County quarterback and with a rare degree of arm strength too. He’s got two elite receivers in Rooks, a N.C. State commit, and Muhammad, who is going to Texas A&M. Both are ranked top 30 nationally at their positions.

In the 42-0 win Monday, Maye hit on 16-of-21 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns. He hit Muhammad for all three scores, and a pretty zinger over the middle to Rooks for a score, his best pass of the night, was called back for penalty.

And this was just Week 1.

“It’s fun to game plan with these guys,” Myers Park coach Scott Chadwick said. “And it’s not just Drake and those two. We’ve got a really good group of guys supporting them with (receivers Jordan Bly and Twan Flip) and we’ve got three solid running backs (brothers Tim and Jacob Newman and K’Daron Redfearn). So I think that’s the key. It’s not just those three guys, but the fact we have a really good supporting cast around those guys, too.”

Myers Park’s defense was also better than I expected. The Mustangs were fast and hit really hard, led by UNC recruit Cameron Roseman-Sinclair who had a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown. Teammate Tahj El had scored on a fumble return for a score just two plays earlier.

There’s no doubt this is the most talented Mustangs team ever, even moreso than the 2018 bunch that set a school-record for wins and had a 13-0 lead over Vance in the state semifinals before losing out on a shot to reach its first state title game since the ‘60s.

“Game 1,” Rooks said, “we did our thing and showed how hard we’ve been working all summer, and (we’re) looking forward to continuing the season with the same momentum. This team can go all the way; a state championship is the only thing we’re settling for.

“We’re going to get better each day, each week and by playoffs, by championship time, it’ll be like clockwork.”

Now a few thoughts on that Mallard Creek thing

In one national poll, Myers Park is top 80 and Mallard Creek is top 20. Both teams will have to run through of gauntlet of teams that will likely include county powers like Hough and Vance and Butler — all capable of winning state — to reach their goal.

But right now, these are clearly — clearly — the two best teams in the area and probably North Carolina.

Mallard Creek played nationally ranked Dutch Fork to a 27-27 tie Friday. The game was stopped with Mallard Creek driving deep in Dutch Fork territory due to weather. Dutch Fork was wearing down and if the game wasn’t stopped several times for weather — it started at 6 p.m. and ended after midnight — I think Mallard Creek may’ve asserted itself much earlier.

Chadwick said he didn’t watch much, but saw enough.

“Looking at Mallard Creek,” he said, “we’re different. We’re built different than they are. They’re a team that relies on their size and physicality, and we’re going to rely on our athletes.”

And if the two should meet, say, in a regional championship game in December?

“I tell you what,” Chadwick said, “I’m not sure there’s a high school stadium that could hold the kind of (crowd) that would be there.

“But we’ve got a long way to go for that.”

Links to more content

Myers Park, Drake Maye, get off to electric start against Olympic

Monday’s top performers

Harding’s defense shines in blowout of Hopewell

Two turns help West Charlotte get past Garinger

Monday’s scores, Sweet 16, Friday’s schedule

Charlotte Catholic tops South Meck in battle for Park Road

Elevator

↑Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons: Upset three-time N.C. 4AA state champion Wake Forest Saturday, ending the Cougars’ 45-game win streak. Gibbons rallied from a 24-14 halftime deficit.

↑Mallard Creek: Mavericks ranked No. 20 in the High School Football America national poll, one spot behind Irmo Dutch Fork. The teams played to a 27-27 tie last week. They are the two highest-ranked teams from the Carolinas, but not the only ones. Myers Park is No. 77. Charlotte Catholic is No. 89.

↑Independence: after his Patriots beat North Meck 47-26 on the road — getting their second straight season-opening win and snapping a three-game losing streak that began last season — Independence coach Mike Natoli took to social media with a near-perfect post. As Jon Gruden would say, “That’s football, man.”

I wish everyone could feel what I feel right now. What these young men have accomplished and overcame is impossible. Love u Flash!! Love u Mom!! We r just getting started. God is real and HE IS GOOD!!!— Coach Natoli (@natoli14) August 27, 2019

Observation

▪ High school coaches really don’t like playing on Monday, meaning — in most cases — they play two games in five days. But it can also hard on the school budget. Football is the big revenue driver at most schools. Take Myers Park, for instance. On Friday, the Mustangs had a large crowd show up for the Olympic High season-opener.

A good crowd showed up Monday, but it wasn’t the same.

A half dozen coaches called me over the weekend to express frustration with playing on Monday, which was the opening day of school. They didn’t like that, and they didn’t like the prospect of playing two games in five days.

Because Myers Park has a bye, Chadwick’s bunch won’t have that gauntlet this week but he can relate. He said he’s also a bit flummoxed with CMS saying they can’t go on Saturdays for a makeup date due to a lack of game management personnel.

“No. 1, it’s the recovery time,” Chadwick said. “It’s a total lack of recovery time, and in this day and age of trying to be safe and trying to protect kids, you’re asking them to play two games in five days. I just don’t think that’s safe for kids. And other jurisdictions seem to be able to find (Saturday game personnel). I’m not sure why they can get officials and we can’t, when we use the same association.”

Monday’s #BIG5 Top Performers

Chancellor Dolphus, Harding: had two fumble recoveries for a touchdown in a 54-6 win over Hopewell. Harding recovered three Hopewell fumbles and intercepted a Hopewell pass — all in the first quarter.

Iwuan Jackson, West Charlotte: Ran for 53 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-8 win over Garinger. He also had a long kickoff return to set up a fourth score.

Drake Maye, Myers Park: Alabama recruit completed 16-of-21 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-0 win over Olympic. Maye also ran for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Paul Neel, Charlotte Catholic: 115 yards rushing in a 42-7 win over South Mecklenburg. Neel had a 68-yard run on the fourth play of the game. He scored a rushing touchdown and caught a pass for a score.

Davion Nelson, Independence: junior running back had a pair of scores in a 46-27 win over North Mecklenburg.



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