Raleigh, N.C.- The 102nd annual NCHSAA 4-AA State Championship game featured two well-balanced teams. Charlotte Mallard Creek and Greensboro Page. Many people felt that Page was a year ahead of schedule, making a run to the state championship game led by a junior quarterback and running back. Page has been known for slow starts at some points during the season, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday. They were completely dominated from the opening kickoff.
The Pirates won the coin toss and deffered, which gave the ball to the Mavericks who scored on the opening drive of the game just shy of four minutes into the game when quarterback Jason Smith connected with Thaddeus Moss, son of NFL great Randy, for six yards. That score appeared to open the flood gates, and put a hole in the ship of the Pirates, that caused the ship to sink.
In the second quarter, Mallard Creek forced four turnovers that started after the team scored their second touchdown-two within 13 seconds of each other and two within 38 seconds of each other- that all resulted in Maverick touchdowns.
“We thought that we could take advantage of our physicality,” Mallard Creek head coach Michael Palmieri said. “If we could get them to play an entire 48 minutes at that level of physicality, we knew we had a good chance.”
Page had six turnovers, rushed for 28 negative yards, and only scored six points on 117 yards of total offense. They failed to execute on just about all levels of the field. It didn’t look anything like the Page team that anyone envisioned showing up, or the team that got to the state championship game.
Mallard Creek took away the threat of the entire Page offense. It appeared that the Maverick defense would pitch a shutout until Javon Leake scored the only touchdown for the Pirates with 7:50 left in the game.
“I felt pretty good about the matchup,” Page head coach Kevin Gillespie said postgame. “I’ve said all week that it would come down to execution. If the guys up front play well and we execute out on the perimeter, we will do well. We have done well all year, except for the times that we didn’t do that.”
Due to turnovers, the Pirates only ran a total of twenty six offensive plays in the first half, and a running clock from the beginning of the third quarter, only gave the Page offense an opportunity at fourteen plays.
This win gives Mallard Creek their third straight state championship. It was very obvious that they were experienced on the big stage.
“We had a lot of great players, but they all knew their role eventually,” Palmieri added.
“The first championship doesn’t feel any better than the third one,” Mallard Creek quarterback Jason Smith said. “It builds a fire inside you and you begin to expect it.”
When Page coach Kevin Gillespie was asked about the team he has returning for next year, he said “They have a good group returning next year, so some people might say they’re going to win it again next year, but they might run into Page High School, and the result might be different. It’s hard to say what will happen though because to get to this game, so many things have to happen.”
Greensboro’s fans did show up for their team. They go home runner-ups, after a great run, and will be looking forward to another run when football season begins next August.
(MAL) Thaddeus Moss 6 pass from Jason Smith (Valderrama kick)
(MAL) Ryan Jones 14 pass from Smith (Valderrama kick)
(MAL) Chauncery Bowman 4 run (Valderrama kick)
(MAL) Bowan 1 run (Valderrama kick)
(MAL) Bowman 1 run (Valderrama kick)
(MAL) Smith 1 run (Valderrama kick)
(MAL) Corey Sutton 24 pass from Smith (Valderrama kick)
(PAG) Javon Leake 71 pass from Will Jones (kick failed)