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Top-ranked Mallard Creek LB Trenton Simpson to visit UNC Saturday and talks recruiting

Mallard Creek High All-American linebacker Trenton Simpson doesn’t know if he’ll announce his college choice before the early National Signing Day in December, but one thing he’s going to do is take his time.

Simpson, the top-rated recruit in North Carolina, committed to Auburn in June. The Tigers were his only official visit. Schools don’t stop recruiting you because you commit, and Simpson said he began to feel that Auburn wasn’t the right fit.

He de-committed from the Tigers last month and has reopened his recruitment. Simpson is ranked No. 1 in the Observer’s list of the top-50 recruits in the Carolinas.

“I no longer felt that (Auburn) was the best fit for me,” Simpson told the Observer, “and speaking to my family and coaches, they said if I feel that way, go ahead and de-commit. My parents said to take my (official) visits before December 19th. I won’t know for sure (where I’m going) until then. That will come with talking to my family and finding what fits us. But (Dec. 19) is the latest my decision will come. I’m leaving early.”

Simpson, 6-3 and 230 pounds, plans to graduate high school school next month and enroll at whatever college he commits to in January.

But which one?

Simpson took an unofficial visit to Clemson last week and went through a full-out recruiting tour, including a photo shoot wearing the Clemson uniform with his No. 22. After Friday’s 52-13 win over Hough, Simpson and his family will head to Chapel Hill to take his second official visit with Mack Brown and the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Here’s Simpson on Clemson.

“Clemson was very nice to see,” he said. “It was cool to see what they have there and to see, up close, what it looks like to win a national championship. To see it in person, in a full game, was awesome.”

And here’s Simpson on UNC, which was his first Power 5 offer.

“This official will be very beneficial for me,” he said, “because for me and my family we can see what they offer academically. Football’s gonna be there, and I need to get a great education and be comfortable where I’m at, and meeting potential teachers and professors is a big thing. And this allows me to bring my whole family and show them what it is like, and having them be there will be great.”

Beyond the Tar Heels, Simpson said he has a short list of favorite schools but isn’t comfortable going public with it. He did say that Clemson and UNC would be two of his favorites. Published reports have Alabama, Florida, LSU and N.C. State as other potential landing spots.

Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri said he wasn’t surprised with Simpson’s Auburn de-commit and was happy to see his star taking his time now.

“This is a big decision in their lives,” Palmieri said, “and he felt like Auburn wasn’t the best fit for him. This day and age, kids de-commit all the time and sometimes make a decision too quick.”

Mallard Creek linebacker Trent Simpson is the No. 1 recruit in North Carolina Jonathan Aguallo Special to the Observer

Palmieri said whatever team gets Simpson is getting the best this state has to offer.

“He’s the best player in the state by far,” Palmieri said. “He does everything for us, you know? It’s just his leadership. He’s not a selfish player. He does whatever we ask to win, whether that’s to rush the passer or run the ball or block kicks. He’s just a kid who wants to win, and he’s a good teammate and really good in the locker room.”

And that’s something that Simpson — polite to a fault — is most proud of.

“I’ll do anything to make sure we win,” he said. “I’m not a loser. Whatever it takes me to be, a running back, a linebacker, a safety or a long snapper, whatever it takes, I’ll do it. I’m enjoying the season and plan on us continuing to win and not overlooking opponents, and I think things will take of themselves.”

Quick Links

Friday’s Top Performers 11.1.19

Friday’s NC/SC scores, how Sweet 16 fared, next week’s schedule

Charlotte Christian rallies past Charlotte Latin to NCISAA final

Olympic rallies past Providence for big win

Mallard Creek flexes muscles in conference title win over Hough

Heartbreak! Christ School upsets top seeded Country Day


Drake Maye, Myers Park: Maye, the Alabama recruit, threw his first interception of the season in Friday’s 49-10 win over Indian Trail Porter Ridge, but he completed 20-of-25 passes for 415 yards and four touchdowns. He ran for 42 yards on seven carries. Porter Rooks, an N.C. State recruit, caught five passes for 119 yards and a score. Muhsin Muhammad, a Texas A&M recruit, caught six passes for 165 yards and a score.

Maye has 39 touchdown passes this season.

North Lincoln: won the first conference championship in school history after beating Lincolnton 49-7. North won its ninth consecutive game and can tie the school record for wins next week against Catawba Bandys.

Fight at Legion Collegiate-Forest Hills: on-field brawl forced officials to end the game with 78 seconds left.

Clover: Blue Eagles beat Fort Mill 45-10 to finish their first undefeated regular season in the modern era.

Anson County: The Bearcats (6-3, 3-0 Rocky River) won their third consecutive game and a share of the conference title, whipping previously unbeaten West Stanly 34-0. Anson has not lost to a 2A team this year and disposed of a Colts team that was averaging more than 45 points per game.

Vance defense: In a 24-0 shutout of North Meck, the Cougars got four sacks, had six tackles for loss, forced a fumble and got an interception. The Cougars (8-1, 5-1 I-MECK) won their fifth consecutive game, got their third shutout of the season, and set up next week’s game with Hough (6-4, 5-1) for a very important No. 2 playoff seed in the conference.

The high school ‘helicopter’ hit that literally sent an opponent flying

Friday night, Lenoir Hibriten junior Azariah Moore had a memorable play in a 37-0 win over West Iredell.

On a kickoff, Moore, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound linebacker, hit a West Iredell player and launched him in the air, literally spinning like a helicopter.

The video, which Moore put on Hudl and MaxPreps, began making the rounds Saturday.

The video is shown above in this story or on this link.

3 Quick Thoughts

1. There were not too many people who gave Charlotte Christian a chance to three-peat as state champions this year after graduating a dominant senior class that included two-time Big South 4A Player of the Year Garrett Shrader, now at Mississippi State. And that was before a rash of injuries and bad luck hit the Knights this season.

But after a 2-2 start, coach Jason Estep has done a masterful job leading his team on a five-game winning streak, including a 14-7 win over Charlotte Latin on Friday in the NCISAA semifinals, and now the Knights will host next week’s state final. Christian will play Arden Christ School for the title. Christian won 28-27 at Christ School Oct. 11.

2. West Mecklenburg had an emphatic response to last week’s 28-0 loss at Olympic. The Hawks whipped Harding 34-8 Friday and got themselves into prime playoff position with a game at South Meck (0-10, 0-5) next week. South lost 25-19 to Berry on Friday.

3. Really quietly, Independence High is getting on a roll. The Patriots’ 28-20 win over Rocky River was Independence’s fourth in five weeks. Independence (6-4, 4-2) plays Myers Park next week in a regular-season finale that will have playoff implications.

Rooks commits to All-American game

Myers Park wide receiver Porter Rooks has committed to play in a high school football All-American game. Rooks has committed to N.C. State.

Rooks will play in the World Bowl Dec. 21 in Mexico City.

Rooks is one of 80 players selected to play in the game, which will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network. The players come from the U.S., Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands and France.

Heading into Friday’s Senior Night home game with Indian Trail Porter Ridge, Rooks has caught 39 passes for 632 yards and nine touchdowns.

Why Ardrey Kell got night off

Fort Mill Catawba Ridge, a first-year school, forfeited its game Friday against Ardrey Kell. So the Knights moved to 9-1 and extended their school-best win streak to nine games.

There was an outbreak of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease among some Catawba Ridge players. HFMD is a viral illness that typically affects children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include fever, mouth sores and a skin rash. It can be transmitted through direct contact.

Catawba Ridge, which started 2-0, fell to 2-8, and now ends its first season.

Ardrey Kell has its most wins since 2014 and second-most in school history. The 2007 team, the second in school history, won 10 games.

The Knights will play at rival Providence next week to try to win an outright conference championship.

It pays to coach in Texas

Remember when news broke that former Vance coach Aaron Brand was taking a major raise to leave Charlotte for South Carolina? It led to a public discussion about whether schools here should pay big bucks to high school football coaches.

In football-happy Texas, schools have no such problem.

According to a study done by the Fort Worth Star Telegram, coaches at Texas’ 5A and 6A large class schools average a $100,000 salary, and 41 made at least $120,000. There were 11 who made $130K or more.

And one coach, Hank Carter of Austin Lake, made nearly $160,000.

Friday’s #BIG5 Top Performers

Hunter Deberardino, Mooresville: Blue Devils QB was 12-for-18 for 247 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-8 win over West Charlotte. Keshaun Black, the reigning Charlotte Observer Player of the Week, caught six passes for 125 yards and three touchdowns.

Wanyae Freeman, Carolina Bearcats: Amassed more than 350 yards passing and seven touchdowns in a 56-0 win over the Sandhills Titans.

Dalton Miller, Mount Pleasant: 20 carries, 232 yards, four touchdowns in a 33-19 win over Montgomery Central.

Dustin Noller, Mallard Creek: 18-for-30 for 345 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-13 win over Hough. Receiver Elijah Metcalf, a junior, caught four passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns.

Steven Montgomery, Alexander Central: 16 carries for 246 yards and four touchdowns in a 40-19 win over Hickory.

Langston Wertz Jr. is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked at the Observer since 1988. He’s covered everything from Final Fours and NFL to video games and Britney Spears. Wertz -- a West Charlotte High and UNC grad -- is the rare person who can answer “Charlotte,” when you ask, “What city are you from.”
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