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August 17, 2012The Rematch
I know it's only mid-August, but tonight's game between nationally ranked Butler and Mallard Creek has a championship feel to it. Memorial stadium will play host tonight to the NC Preps Game of the Week. Both schools agreed a neutral site would offer more seating for the expected large crowd. Tonight's game will feature four players in the NC Preps Pre-Season Top 10.
Mallard Creek took last year's opener 28-20 on their home field. Both teams went undefeated the rest of the season before losing to Page, the eventual state champs, in the playoffs.
With both teams having championship aspirations this season match-up is just as important. The loser will likely take the back seat throughout the rest of the season, as the winner will be crowned the top team in the state until the playoffs start.
The visiting Mallard Creek Mavericks come into tonight's game with the state's top player, Marquez North. Coach Mike Palmieri will look to get the ball in his hands as many times as possible tonight. Last season North scored touchdowns through the air, on the ground, and on special teams. On defense the Mavericks return nine starters including star defensive backs Anthony Covington and UNC commit Brian Walker. The two will hope to slow down the Butler passing attack.
The Bulldogs will get the nod as the home team in tonight's game. They return star quarterback Riley Ferguson . The Tennessee commit will be in command of the offense for the third straight season. The Butler offense will once again be loaded. Ferguson will have Georgia commit Uriah Lemay on one side and Michigan commit Channing Stribling on the other. If the offensive line can give Ferguson time, this offense could be the best in the state. On defense the Bulldogs are led by Stanford commit Peter Kalambayi. The linebacker will look to command his troops tonight in hopes of slowing down North and the Mavericks offense.
Keys to the game:
-It's not called Special Teams for no reason. Special teams play on both sides of the ball will be huge. If Butler decides to kick to North they better make sure the stay in their lanes. He took four kickoffs back for scores last season. Also, in a tight game which teams kicking unit steps up?
-Leave it to Riley. Riley Ferguson injured his thumb at the Elite 11 in Oregon. He sat out for precautionary reasons at Butler's scrimmage last week. If his thumb is bothering him and his line isn't protecting him, he has the ability to beat teams with his legs. The Mallard Creek defense better be prepared for the dual-threat quarterback.
-The Unsung Hero. Brian Walker and Anthony Covington have the ability to shut down receivers. With Butler losing their tight end from last season, look for running back Josh Glisson to become a factor. Glisson is a great athlete who gets lost in the shadows of Ferguson, Lemay, and Stribling. If Butler can establish the run I don't see Mallard Creek being able to stop them.
Prediction: When in doubt always go with experience at quarterback. Mallard Creek breaking in a new quarterback and Ferguson returning for his third season as the starter makes my decision easy. Butler returns the favor, 28-20.
North Carolina NEWS