New seasons mean new teams. It also means new results for a pair of North Carolina powerhouse programs.
In a shocker, No. 98 Mount Ulla (N.C.) West Rowan lost to Mooresville, 21-14, a result that halts what was the longest winning streak in the country at 46 games. It is the first defeat since 2008 for the three-time defending Class 3A champions.
Meanwhile, in a battle of the state's two top teams, No. 49 Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek defeated No. 48 Matthews (N.C.) Butler, 28-20.
The result ends a 31-game winning streak for Butler, the two-time defending Class 4AA champions.
Clearly, this is a new season.
Last year, West Rowan gave up more than 14 points only once, during a 48-28 postseason triumph. Friday night it gave up 21 points in the second half, wasting a 14-0 lead.
"It's going to sound very simple, but I think they wanted it more in the second half," West Rowan coach Scott Young told the Salisbury Post. "I think we were a little fatigued and we knew we've got to work on that as a team."
The final score, a 36-yard TD run by Mooresville quarterback Deonte Black, was the difference.
Butler's loss is not as surprising. In fact, it's not even an upset but rather a pronouncement that Mallard Creek is the top team in Charlotte - a honor reserved for Butler and Independence throughout the past decade
Mallard Creek also showed how much it wanted this one, both early on and late.
After halting a drive by Butler with an interception at the 2 by Takhare Donaldson, it went on a 98-yard touchdown drive - aided by a fake punt - that culminated with QB Andrew Goodman hitting Jamel Harbison with a 17-yard strike. Mallard Creek increased its lead to 14-0 on its next possession as Jela Duncan ran behind five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humphries on the way to a 65-yard score.
Butler rallied behind quarterback Riley Ferguson, who threw a TD pass late in the first half to cut the lead to 14-7, then tied the game at 14 with a scoring strike in the third quarter.
"We knew with the kind of team they had, that this game was just getting going when we got up two touchdowns," Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri told The Charlotte Observer.
Palmieri then found out what type of team he has.
After the schools traded touchdown passes (though Butler missed a point after, producing a 21-20 Mallard Creek advantage), Mallard Creek put the game away with a bit of trickery as Harbison took a pitch from Goodman before finding Marquez North all alone for a 40-yard touchdown pass.
RivalsHigh take: After seeing West Rowan at the Hoover 7-on-7, it was pretty clear this team was going to struggle to remain in the RivalsHigh 100. Losing to Mooresville was not expected, but unless something changes dramatically, the team that entered with the nation's longest winning streak could end with three losses in the first four weeks of the season.
Not sure we learned much from Mallard Creek's win over Butler, aside from that we had the teams in the wrong order in the preseason. The game was as close as the final score indicated - although Mallard Creek never trailed. Butler will remain in the RivalsHigh 100, but slide to the No. 2 team in North Carolina.
NCPreps.com publisher Deana King contributed to this report.
A look at more games involving RivalsHigh Top 100 teams:
Picayune 17, No. 28 Gulfport 14
They brought The Shrimp Bowl Classic back this year - and it lived up to its name.
Picayune rallied twice in the fourth quarter to upset Gulfport 17-14 in Gulfport in the return of an event that started in 1941.
Picayune rallied to take a 10-7 lead on a touchdown run by Deronde Magee with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Then, after Gulfport answered with a 77-yard TD pass, Picayune responded with a TD run by Desmond Taylor with 25 seconds to go in the game.
RivalsHigh take: Much of the talk in Mississippi this year was about Gulfport maybe being the best team in the South of the state - and it still could eventually prove to be - but losing to Picayune is tough. Troubles in the red zone certainly changed the outcome, but when it came to crunchtime Picayune made the plays that counted and Gulfport did not; those plays were on defense protecting a lead.
Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County had its way in this one - but the telling number wasn't the 31 points it put up on offense but the zero it allowed on defense.
It was just the first game under new defensive coordinator Travis Pearson, but Colquitt County already showed what his hiring has meant. The defense held all-state quarterback Zack Folsom to just 3-of-15 passing and 22 yards. He was intercepted three times and forced to fumble once.
Cook County had just 57 yards of offense.
The game was scoreless in the second quarter before Colquitt County scored twice in 11 seconds to take control.
RivalsHigh take: It was important to see Colquitt get off on a strong win - especially after being surprised by Cook County a year ago in the opener. The team did not hold any opponents to single-digit scoring last year yet somehow managed to reach the state final. Its offense figures to grow into one of the more explosive in the state. If the defense is able to play at this level throughout the season, it would be a major stock boost for Rush Propst and company.
South Gwinnett had an early 7-0 lead; Lowndes had Tiquan Lang.
Lang did it all for Lowndes, starting with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown following South Gwinnett's opening score. He later blocked a punt that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown and returned an interception 67 yards to help set up another score.
Josh Harvey-Clemons - playing QB, RB and WR - led the Lowndes' offense with a TD run.
RivalsHigh take: As expected, Lowndes went to roll in its opener and this was not much of a test. It is hard to tell where this win stacks up even against teams in its region as Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County thumped a better team in its opener. Lowndes certainly didn't do anything to hurt its stock.