CHARLOTTE – It took Myers Park coach Scott Chadwick a couple of seasons to get his feet wet in the Southwestern 4A conference and it took him a couple more to finally topple mighty Butler, a team who had owned the Mustangs and beaten them in 18 straight games dating back to 2000.
But Myers Park has now ended the Bulldogs season each of the two past years in the playoffs and the Mustangs have made themselves into a state-wide powerhouse.
The scary thing is this team can be even better.
Sure, there are some questions. The offensive line will be young and untested. The linebackers will be new and there is some concern about the depth of both lines.
But there are answers, too.
At receiver, the Mustangs boast seniors Porter Rooks, an N.C. State commit who caught 50 balls for 652 yards in eight games with Providence Day last season, and Moose Muhammad, a Texas A&M recruit who hauled in 58 passes for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns and is one of the elite return men in the state.
Muhammad is a four-star recruit ranked No. 3 overall in the state and the No. 23-ranked wide receiver in the Class of 2020. Rooks is a three-star ranked No. 5 overall in the state. He’s the 26th-ranked receiver in the Class of 2020.
They teamed up at Providence Day in 10th grade. Now after a one-year hiatus, they are back again.
“We saw the opportunity,” Rooks said with a smile. “We all have the same goal. Of course, we’re all going different places to play and to play at a high level, but we have to finish this year. We have a whole season ahead of us, so we’re trying to make it a special one.”
The receiver duo should each have huge seasons in Chadwick’s offensive system, and especially so catching passes from Alabama commit Drake Maye, who threw for over 3,200 yards and fired 36 touchdowns against just five interceptions.
Maye is a four-star recruit ranked No. 5 overall prospect in the Class of 2021 and the No. 7 overall dual-threat quarterback in the country.
Logan Mauldin and Jordan Bly caught just 17 balls between them last season, but should see a big uptick this season. That’s especially true for Mauldin, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound tight end who is sneaking up the recruiting rankings.
Joining that group is Twan Flip, a Country Day transfer who averaged eight yards per rush attempt and led the Bucs with 23 receptions for 483 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s also an exceptional return man who should help further ignite the Mustang offense.
“The athleticism and talent on this team speak for itself, but we just have to do all of the little things right,” Muhammad said. “Coach Chadwick holds us to a very high standard. Everything we do, we do as a team. He preaches to us that your team is as weak as the weakest link, so we’re always pushing each other. It’s a brotherhood and we connect more off the field than we do on it. When it’s gametime, it’s just bread and butter.”
While the offense will be cooking on game days, the key to how far the Mustangs can go rests on the capable shoulders of North Carolina commit Cameron Roseman-Sinclair.
Widely regarded as one of the nation’s top safeties, Roseman-Sinclair is a 4-star recruit ranked No. 9 in the state and the No. 9 safety in the country by 247sports.com.
He said despite some questions up front and at linebacker, the defense is coming together nicely and ready to keep the Mustangs around last season’s 10.2 points per game average, the lowest number from any Myers Park defense in 20 years.
“We go against the best offense every day of the week in practice, so we don’t worry about game day,” he said. “Game day is going to be easy compared with what we face out here every single day. We’re just working out here every day. For us, consistency getting to the ball and communication are the key. This year, we’re really big about communication before the play, so that’s what’s going to hold us.”
Muhammad and the offense said no matter who they’re playing on Friday nights, the preparation will be the same. The Mustangs know this could be a very special season, and especially so with this rare collection of talent on the same field.
But they won’t get ahead of themselves in the pursuit of the school’s first title.
“It’s our last ride, so it’s a different attitude because this is our last chance to get a ring. The next level is going to be a lot harder to get a ring, so we’re focused on doing it right now,” Rooks said.