It’s that time of year again!
Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group announces its final Super 10 Football Rankings of 2010, crowning its annual champion from the 31 teams in Mecklenburg County.
1. Butler (16-0)
For the second consecutive year, the Bulldogs are Class 4AA state titlists and Super 10 champs. When you take into account the fact that Butler faced national and local scrutiny yet still managed to emerge unblemished, it says a lot about coach Mike Newsome’s bunch.
The Bulldogs literally had it all this season – a polished running game led by Jahwan Edwards and Deion Walker, a passing game that improved weekly under highly touted quarterback Riley Ferguson and a corps of budding stars at wide receiver, and a selfish defense paced by All-American linebacker Kris Frost.
2. Charlotte Country Day (10-2)
Some of you probably cringe at the thought of a private school being the No. 2-ranked team in the county. Well, the 2010 Bucs were unlike most private-school teams.
The Bucs’ two losses this season came by a combined eight points. It wasn’t a surprise that the Bucs won their first N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association state title since 2004.
3. Vance (11-4)
The Cougars were the surprise team in Mecklenburg football in coach Phil Culicerto’s second season.
It wasn’t just that they came within a victory of reaching the state championship game at North Carolina’s largest – and most difficult – classification (4AA); the Cougars were throwbacks, making their opponents abandon well-thought-out game plans to play Vance’s way: gritty.
Unfortunately, the Cougars ran into Butler in the state semifinals.
4. Mallard Creek (13-1)
The Mavericks were surprising this season, too, but only in the fact that they were eliminated from the state playoffs before reaching a Class 4AA semifinal showdown with Butler.
Mallard Creek lost to Vance, 10-7, in the quarterfinals and, with all due respect to the Cougars, it’s hard not to wonder if things would’ve been different if Mavericks star quarterback Marquise Williams, a North Carolina Tar Heel recruit, hadn’t been hampered by an ankle injury.
We’ll never know.
5. Charlotte Catholic (14-1)
Even by Charlotte Catholic’s lofty standards, this was a remarkable season for the Cougars, who romped to another conference championship and looked as formidable as any of its two state championship teams of the 2000s.
Heading into their season finale against Boiling Springs Crest, the Cougars had six runners who carried the ball at least 15 times and averaged at least 6.2 yards per game: David Herlocker (51 carries for 11.2 yards per attempt), Nick Johnson (108 for 9.9), Steven Bevilacqua (176 for 9.3), Ben Thomas 17 for 7.2), Nick Beato (29 for 6.8) and Vince Campagna (32 for 6.2).
6. Berry (11-3)
This was the best season in Cardinal history. They looked destined for the Class 2AA championship game until falling to Salisbury, 45-35, in the third round.
Next year, they move up to Class 3A competition. Expect coach Andrew Howard’s squad to remain strong.
7. Ardrey Kell (8-5)
Ardrey Kell was led by star running back Justus Pickett, who easily eclipsed 2,000 yards and found himself among the greatest runners in Mecklenburg County history.
Along the way, Ardrey Kell won the first playoff game in school history, 35-10 over South Mecklenburg, before falling in the second round against mighty Mallard Creek.
8. Charlotte Latin (9-3)
When the season started, we didn’t know this would be Hawks coach Larry McNulty’s swan song. And although it didn’t end with his 12th state championship, it still was a thing of beauty.
The Hawks lost to just two teams this season: No. 2 Charlotte Country Day (twice) and No. 5 Charlotte Catholic.
9. Hopewell (8-5)
Hopewell tied SouthLake Christian for the most on-the-field losses among Super 10 teams, but that doesn’t make what the Titans accomplished any less impressive.
Hopewell established a milestone this season by defeating traditional powerhouse West Charlotte for the first time in school history, 30-27. Led by the rugged running back duo of Dondre Lewis-Freeman and Denzel Heath, the Titans averaged more than 23 points per game and also managed to shake off a three-game losing streak to advance to the second round of the state playoffs, where they dropped a close 17-7 decision to No. 3 Vance.
No shame in that at all.
And perhaps more important to Titans fans, Hopewell posted its fourth consecutive victory over archnemesis North Mecklenburg in the annual Battle for the Shield.
Yes, it certainly was a productive season for coach Chris Rust’s squad.
10. SouthLake Christian (8-5)
The Eagle football program has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and this season marked some of its greatest strides.
All year, SouthLake Christian battled injuries to key players, including star quarterback/defensive back Sam Remick, who quietly had one of the most spectacular seasons in the county. Despite the physical setbacks, the Eagles made it all the way to the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II semifinals, falling to state runner-up Westminster Catawba.
But the Eagles’ season won’t be remembered for that loss.
Several veterans lived up to their preseason hype – receiver/linebacker Travis Hallman, receiver Demetri Allison and lineman Charles Hazzard – and a number of other players found their way into the spotlight – cornerback Andre Diouf and linebacker Taylor Jurney.
Along the way, SouthLake finished with the second-most victories in school history, falling one game short of 2007’s 9-3 campaign.
How ‘bout them Eagles?!