Notebook: Jela Duncan Leads Mallard Creek

Jela Duncan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Mallard Creek vs. Butler on August drew a lot of hype and it loved up to its billing. There were some turnovers, some penalties, and some mental mistakes on both sides, but the Mavericks defended their home turf with a 28-20 victory.

Mallard Creek got up 14-0 in the second quarter and the Mavericks took that two touchdown lead into the locker room at the half. Butler came back with two scores and knotted the score at 14-14 in the third quarter.

Mallard Creek answered back with a 51 yard touchdown reception by Corey Miller to take a 21-14 lead. Like the heavyweight fight is compared to leading up to August 19, Butler answered again.

2013 prospects Riley Ferguson (quarterback) and Uriah LeMay (wide receiver) hooked up for a 50 yard touchdown, but after a failed extra point attempt, the Bulldogs were still down 21-20.

Possessions were exchanged before Mallard Creek sealed the game on a double pass. Jamel Harbison hit Marquez North (a 2013 prospect to watch) for a score of 40 yards.

The final score was 28-20 Mallard Creek. 2012 running back Jela Duncan ran for over 200 yards including a 61 yard touchdown scamper early in the contest. He is a major prospect in North Carolina and he currently favors Duke over numerous other offers. He ran hard, he led his team, and he helped the chains move when they needed to be.

Proud Head Coach at Mallard Creek

The players at Mallard Creek had the Butler game circled since it was scheduled and they showed up ready to play Friday night. Their head coach

Mark Palmieri was proud of his kids after the big victory.

"This was a big win for our kids, this kind of game is what we (coaches) try to build our kids up for, and I am glad our kids stepped up and got the job done," said Palmieri. "Butler is a great team, it was a great game, our kids played hard, and the win is a big one for us."

Although Butler was the top ranked team in the state, Palmieri will let the kids on his team know this was only one game and one win.

"Next week is a whole new week and we will have a totally different team out there competing against us, so we will prepare for every team like they are Butler. We know we just beat a very good team, but we are not champions yet. We want to become champions, so there is still a lot of work to be done."

The Mavericks were a team many felt would challenge Butler a year ago for the state title, but they fell a little short when Vance knocked them out early in the playoffs.

Coach Palmieri will not let his team get comfortable in 2011.

"Our players know we did not get where we wanted to be last season and it is in front of them everywhere around here. Our guys have been working hard since we lost last season preparing not only for Butler, but to be the best in 2011. We tell our kids to play like you are going to the electric chair because you can't have a let down. Last year, one play hurt us, and we are aiming not to let that happen in 2011."

Game 15 Matters, Not Game One

Butler had won back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010 winning 31 straight games to do so. Mike Newsome coached those teams and he has moved on to A.L. Brown and former offensive coordinator Brian Hales took over.

Hales first game did not end like he wanted, but his players know, it is not about how you start, but how you finish.

"This game was a measuring point for us and it showed us what we need to improve on and what areas we really need to work on," said Peter Kalambayi. "Mallard Creek is the best team in the state besides us and we are going to see them in the playoffs, so we should be too sad as a team. We just need to keep getting better and improve each week."

Kalambayi is a 2013 prospect who will rank amongst the best in his state next year. The 6-foot-2, 230 pound linebacker already has offers from Clemson, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina State, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech.

He knows recruiting will takes care of itself, he's going to focus on what he can control.

"I don't like to lose and that was the toughest thing about this game. I have not lost a game since eighth grade and I want to win the rest of the games I play in high school. I am not worried about recruiting, but I am worried about my grades (carries a 4.3 GPA) and doing whatever it takes to help Butler win football games these next two years. We will bounce back from this and be better because of the loss."

Future Gator Leads Mavericks

It was a different D.J. Humphries this year compared to last. The 6-foot-5, 275 pound offensive tackle that is rated as one of the best in the country on Scout has truly stepped up as a leader in 2011. Scout saw him in 2010, he was quiet, he kept to himself on the field, and he just let his actions on the field speak for him.

That is not the Humphries we saw Friday night.

"I knew I had to be different this year," Humphries told Scout. "I am a senior, I am supposed to lead this team, and I am doing it."

He did it from start to finish in game one.

During pre-game, he gave not one, not two, but three speeches to his teammates. He talked to them about their hard work over the summer, how they failed to win state in 2010, and what their goals for 2011 were.

"I had to let them know why we were out here playing Butler. I wanted to make sure they were focused and to make sure everyone was excited about this game like I was. It was a big game, it was the first game of the season, we were playing Butler, and there was a lot to be excited about."

The University of Florida commitment did not leave it just words before the game. He played with the fire he spoke with.

"I think I played well, but I know I can play better. I had some nice blocks and I think I would give myself a B+ overall, but I played hard, I got after it, and I think I helped us win this game."

Game one is in the books, Humphries words were heard, his performance was noticed, and he hopes to win 14 more high school games before moving on to Gainesville.

Mallard Creek Strong in 2013

D.J. Humphries leads the way in 2012 and others like Jela Duncan and Jamel Harbison have numerous offers. The 2013 class under Coach Palmieri is going to be a good one too.

"We do have some juniors to keep an eye on and we feel good about that class," Coach Palmieri said. "We think we will have another good class."

Who will be their top guy? That is still up for debate.

Here are some to watch:

  • Anthony Covington – 5-11/180 – CB
  • Jay Horton – 5-9/190 – RB
  • Jorian Jordan – 6-1/180 – WR
  • Tevin Lawshe – 6-3/280 – OG
  • Marquez North – 6-3/210 – WR
  • Brian Walker – 6-0/190 – CB

    Walker claims offers from Auburn and South Carolina right now and North is starting to draw a lot of attention. Covington transferred up from Parkview in Lilburn, Ga. and he is starting to get some looks too. Lewshe had a good game beside Humphries Friday night.

    The Next LeMay Shines

    Christian LeMay was one of the top high school quarterbacks in the class of 2011 and he went on to sign with the University of Georgia. The oldest LeMay is in college after graduating early and now it is time for Uriah LeMay to step into the spotlight.

    He played a role in the Butler offense in 2010 as a sophomore when the Bulldogs won their second straight state title and now he is considered a bigger part of Butler football.

    He lived up to the billing against Mallard Creek. He scored two of Butler's three touchdowns on nine and 50 yard receptions. On the 50 yard touchdown catch, it was a short hitch route where he caught the pass, secured the ball, then broke a tackle before streaking down the sideline 40 yards more yards.

    LeMay says Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, UCLA, and Virginia Tech have already offered him a scholarship verbally. Some consider him to be one of the top juniors in North Carolina and he made plays in front of many Friday night.

    He was used as a return man, he ran a couple of reverses, and he was a big part of the passing game.

    Ferguson to Ferguson is Good Connection

    The first touchdown was thrown from Riley Ferguson to his brother Zach Ferguson. Zach is one year older and he has a great connection with his brother. That helps them connect in the game.

    "Me and Zach are very close and him being my brother really helps us on the field," said Riley. "I feel so comfortable with him out there and I feel like I can just throw the ball up and he will go catch it. It feels good knowing he is out there with me."

    Last year, both Zach and Riley played big roles in Butler's second consecutive state championship. Zach caught the first touchdown pass from Riley and them playing together on the football field is something they have always wanted to do.

    "We were always on different teams, so we never played together until I got to Butler High School. We have always played at home and just waited for that time. It is a lot of fun."

    Not only does Zach provide Riley with a go-to guy on the field, but the older brother helps keep one of the top 2013 QBs in the South under control at times.

    "He probably helps me more than anything else with my anger. I get mad at myself so easily and Zach is there now to really talk to me, calm me down, and things like that. He has the patience that I don't have and he has really helped me become the quarterback that I am."

    Clemson, LSU, Michigan, and Virginia Tech are the schools Riley Ferguson says he has offers from. Zach has an offer from Towson at this time.

    Chad Simmons started out with Scout in 2003 covering top talent in Georgia and the South. He then moved on to another Recruiting Service from 2004-2008 before returning to Scout the first of 2009 to become South Recruiting Manager. After less than three years, Simmons was moved to National Recruiting Analyst in July 2011.
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