High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: Jela Duncan

Football teams look to punch ticket to state final

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
4:32
PM ET
What's good is Turkey Day without a heavy dose of playoff football? Think of these games as a dessert to the leftovers you eat on Friday because with a trip to the state final on the line, these matchups are bound to be intense.

Mallard Creek at Greensboro Page
Most guessed Butler would be in this game instead of Page, but the fact that the Bulldogs aren't says a lot about this Pirates squad. James Summers leads Page against the state's top team in Mallard Creek, which hasn't been terribly tested in the playoffs until now. The Pirates can't afford to fall behind by 20 like they did last week, as the Mavericks' explosive offense behind RB Jela Duncan and WR Jamel Harbison has been known to make opponents pay for critical mistakes and offensive droughts. With both offenses high-powered, defensive play and turnovers could decide this game.
My pick: Mallard Creek 35, Greensboro Page 34

Jack Britt at Garner
Garner has been dominant all season, winning all but two of their games by at least 20 points. Perennial power Jack Britt has caught fire of late, shutting out four of its last five opponents behind a stout defense. Needless to say, the Trojans offense vs. the Buccaneers defense will be the key matchup in this one, with Jack Britt likely to stack the box often in hopes of slowing running backs Juwan Moye and Demetrius Fairley.
My pick: Garner 35, Jack Britt 24

Crest at Charlotte Catholic
When these two met in the playoffs last year, Crest had its way in a 31-10 win. Expect this year's to be a bit closer, especially with Charlotte Catholic entering as the favorite. Sophomore RB Elijah Hood has been the surprise catalyst for the Cougars' offense, but Crest has defensive stalwarts in DL Jonathan Bullard and DB Rhaheim Ledbetter. Still, the Chargers have struggled against the run in their three losses this year. The key will be Crest's ability to capitalize on offense if/when it slows down the Cougar offense.
My pick: Charlotte Catholic 28, Crest 24

New Bern at Scotland
On paper, Scotland is the favorite. The Fighting Scots offense can score in a hurry behind QB Kwashaun Quick and a stable of running backs. Defensively, they are just as dominant and haven't allowed two touchdowns in their last six games. New Bern has made it this far by mostly outscoring opponents, although last week the Bears capitalized on three late fumbles by New Hanover. Perhaps the Bears wouldn't mind turning this one into a shootout.
My pick: Scotland 42, New Bern 31

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Two new teams in final North Carolina football regular season rankings

October, 31, 2011
10/31/11
3:47
PM ET
Believe it or not, it's been 11 weeks since Mallard Creek and Butler faced off in a makeshift championship game for the season opener. Now it's playoff time and plenty of teams have emerged with the Mavericks and Bulldogs as prime contenders the state crown.

Leesville Road and Havelock entered the final regular season rankings with dominant performances to cap their undefeated regular seasons. Leesville Road easily downed previously ranked Wake-Forest Rolesville to win the Cap 8 title, but it lost QB Austin Berrios to a knee injury on the game's opening kickoff, potentially making the road to a state title a bit tougher. Havelock, which beat Burns earlier this year for its signature win, appears to be the favorite in 3A after outscoring opponent by an average of 48.6 to 14.3.

The rankings will return after the postseason for one final evaluation of the season, but stay tuned to ESPNHS North Carolina for playoff updates.

Click here for a full playoff pairing list from the Charlotte Observer.

Nationally, Mallard Creek moved up to No. 20 while Butler stood pat at No. 32 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Here are the final regular season rankings (last week's rankings are in parentheses):

1. Mallard Creek (Charlotte) 10-0 (1)
Jela Duncan scored five touchdowns as the Mavericks beat Hough, 51-14, and won their third straight I-MECK title. The No. 2 seeded Mavericks will begin the 4AA playoffs against South Mecklenburg.

2. Butler (Matthews) 9-1 (2)
The Bulldogs beat Independence, 38-26, to earn the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. They will host Hoke County this week in the 4AA playoffs.

3. Scotland 10-0 (3)
The Fighting Scots continued their dominance, beating previously ranked Richmond, 42-7. Top-seeded 4A squad will take on Harnett Central in first round of playoffs.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina football rankings

Wake-Forest Rolesville moves up in Week 8 NC football rankings

October, 10, 2011
10/10/11
11:54
AM ET
After games of Saturday, Oct. 8

A few top teams got quite a scare this past week. You already know about Butler's wild win against Ardrey Kell last Thursday, and Wake Forest-Rolesville and Richmond endured similar cardiac comebacks.

Wake Forest-Rolesville saw it fall behind 13-0 in the first half of a contest against a talented Wakefield squad. But a renewed focus on the run game as well as a blitzing defense to throw off Wakefield QB Connor Mitch got the Cougars rolling in the second half for a 14-13 victory.

On the other hand, Richmond was the early aggressor in the its matchup with Purnell Swett, but the Raiders' 14-point halftime lead vanished behind an explosive Rams offense that ran just three plays in the third quarter and scored 21 points. The two teams went back and forth until Steve Houston saved the day. The Raiders DB stuffed Juwan Jones at the goal line on the Rams' two-point try as time expired to preserve Richmond's 42-41 win and avoid a second straight loss.

Although the outcome was the same for both, the fact that Wake Forest-Rolesville beat a 6-2 Wakefield squad while Richmond struggled with a 3-4 Purnell Swett team is why the Cougars move up a spot in this week's rankings.

Nationally, both Mallard Creek and Butler moved up in the POWERADE FAB 50, as the Mavericks are now at No. 22 while the Bulldogs sit at No. 36.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings are in parentheses):

1. Mallard Creek (Charlotte) 7-0 (1)
The Mavericks posted their second shutout in three weeks, this time blanking North Mecklenburg, 63-0, behind Jela Duncan's five touchdowns. Next up: Hopewell.

2. Butler (Matthews) 6-1 (2)
The Bulldogs survived a scare against Ardrey Kell, using a last-minute drive that ended with a Zach Ferguson touchdown to pull out a 43-40 victory. A matchup with Providence is up next.

3. Greensboro Page 7-0 (3)
The Pirates just keep on rolling, as they beat Ben L. Smith, 42-12, last week. Next up: Southern Alamance.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina football rankings.

Burns, South Point on cusp of Week 6 NC rankings

September, 26, 2011
9/26/11
11:53
AM ET
After games ending Saturday, Sept. 24

The rich seem to keep getting richer in North Carolina. Mallard Creek and Butler continued to establish their dominance with routes of Lake Norman and Rocky River, respectively. Meanwhile, Richmond, Page, Scotland and Porter Ridge all had time to rest before looking to continue their undefeated runs this week. Thanks to heavy rain showers, No. 8 Garner also got some rest before facing East Wake on Monday, but the Trojans now have two games in one week.

All of these teams should keep a watchful eye on their rearview mirror, though. A.L. Brown appears to be back on track, shutting out its second straight opponent in Central Carrabus. Plus, Burns looked impressive in a 27-26 win against previously undefeated Freedom while South Point continues to roll behind star fullback Troy Leeper.

On the national front, Mallard Creek moved up to No. 27 while Butler re-entered the top 40 at No. 39 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings are in parentheses):

1. Mallard Creek (Charlotte) 5-0 (1)
Behind Jela Duncan's 192 rushing yards and four touchdowns, the Mavericks blanked Lake Norman, 55-0. Next up: Vance.

2. Butler (Matthews) 4-1 (2)
Sparked by Uriah LeMay's 56-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game, the Bulldogs racked up 312 rushing yards en route to a 52-6 win against Rocky River. A matchup with East Mecklenburg is next.

3. Richmond (Rockingham) 5-0 (3)
The surging Raiders got some time to regroup during their bye week before facing Hoke County this Friday.

Click here for the full POWERADE North Carolina weekly football rankings.

The place to be: Week 3 North Carolina football

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
1:01
PM ET
Believe it or not, the third week of prep football has already rolled around for North Carolina, and if the first two weeks are any indication, this should be a good one. Here's where you need to be this weekend:

No. 1 Mallard Creek (2-0) at No. 10 Berry Academy (2-0)
OK, I'll admit it; I've written about Mallard Creek a lot in this space. Don't blame me, though; blame coach Mike Palmieri, who set up a tough yet intriguing early schedule for his Mavericks. After passing tests against Butler and Sun Valley, the state's top-ranked squad will travel to Berry Academy, where the dynamic duo of wideout Germone Hopper (280 all-purpose yards and two scores in Week 1) and linebacker Nick Dawson (also scored twice in Week 1).
The Mavericks offense has proven masterful, led by the four-headed monster of QB Andrew Goodman, RB Jela Duncan, WR Jamel Harbison and OL D.J. Humphries, putting the pressure on the Cardinals' defense to take control.

No. 6 Southern Durham (2-0) at No. 7 Jack Britt (1-1)
The Fayetteville region will gets its first big matchup when two of our top 10 teams face off. The game is a must-win for Jack Britt, which is looking to bounce back after a close loss to Lumberton and with another big contest against No. 5 Scotland next week. Southern Durham has looked good in its first two games, as dual-threat quarterback Dorian Belcher has shown off his array of skills.

Fuquay-Varina (2-0) at Middle Creek (1-1)
Fuquay Varina stands a chance to enter the conversation of top teams in the state, should it continue its hot start. Ricky Ferguson has been dominant, averaging nearly 105 rushing yards per contest for the Bengals, who slipped past Middle Creek in last year's matchup. The Mustangs are no slouches, either, with their only loss coming to No. 6 Southern Durham last week.

East Wake (2-0) at Millbrook (1-1)
This contest is filled with future implications. For East Wake, the goal is to prove last week's 20-17 overtime win against then-No. 6 Wake Forest-Rolesville was no fluke. For Millbrook, the hope is to build on last week's victory as well as see how it can keep building around the nation's top tailback Keith Marshall, who has rushed for 244 yards and a touchdown this year.

Mooresville (2-0) at Burns (2-0)
One team will taste its first defeat by night's end, but neither will go down easy. Mooresville has impressed with wins against South Meck and previously ranked West Rowan, while Darius Ramsey has run wild for Burns to create its own fast start.

Shelby (0-2) at Crest (1-1)
It's rivalry week for these two schools, which are separated by just four miles. The pressure is on Shelby in this contest, as the Golden Lions look to avoid an 0-3 start in a tough road environment at Crest.

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Got Game: Jela Duncan & Germone Hopper

August, 23, 2011
8/23/11
12:39
PM ET
Each week, I'll highlight top performances from the many sporting events going on in North Carolina. Since football got underway this past weekend, and since there were so many notable achievements from a wild opening night, I'm going to give readers a double-dip of Got Games today.

Jela Duncan, RB, Mallard Creek football: With the national spotlight on the Mavericks season-opening contest against top-ranked Butler, Duncan rose to the challenge during his team's 28-20 victory on Friday. The senior running back ran for 217 yards and a touchdown, proving that his spot on our All-State team was well deserved. Duncan's lone score came on a 63-yard dash that put the Mavericks up 14-0 in the first half. (Of course, Duncan's success is also aided by having big D.J. Humphries, the country's top offensive lineman, opening holes for him.)

Germone Hopper, WR, Berry Academy football: Clemson fans get excited; you've got one heck of a playmaker coming your way next season. Hopper had a huge opening night, racking up 280 all-purpose yards in Berry's 44-6 win against Vance on Friday. Hopper punctuated his impressive output with two first-quarter touchdowns -- one on a 97-yard kick return and another on a 68-yard punt return.

Think you've had a Got Game-worthy performance? Tweet us @brandoncparker.

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