Two-time defending South Carolina state football champion Dutch Fork will begin its 2018 season with a bang.
The Silver Foxes will play North Carolina powerhouse Mallard Creek on Aug. 18 at Memorial Stadium in Charlotte. The game is part of the sixth annual Charlotte Kickoff night. Matchups for the two-game event were announced Wednesday.
Butler and Scotland County, two North Carolina teams, meet in the other game at 5 p.m. with Dutch Fork and Mallard Creek kick off at 8 p.m.
“All four programs here have become pretty elite in their state so it is hard to find games,” Dutch Fork coach Tom Knotts said. “So when someone called me from here about playing Mallard Creek, we couldn’t find another game. Coach Palmieri from Mallard Creek and I talked about playing for a while so I said, Why not? We both are supposed to pretty good so it will be a pretty good high school football game.”
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Dutch Fork and Mallard Creek have been two of the top programs in the Carolinas in the past decade, and each have been nationally ranked. The Silver Foxes have won three state titles, including two in a row, and made it to the championship five out of the past six seasons since coach Knotts arrived in 2010.
Mallard Creek won three consecutive North Carolina Class 4-AA titles from 2013-15 and made it to last year’s championship game before losing to Wake Forest.
It will mark the third consecutive year the Silver Foxes will play a Charlotte-area school to open the season. Dutch Fork played Independence the previous two years. Knotts is no stranger to the Charlotte-area, building Independence into a national power, winning a state title at West Charlotte and leading Harding to a championship game.
“We played a lot of our big, exciting games at Memorial Stadium,” said Knotts who last coached a game at Memorial about 15 years ago. “Mallard Creek is an awesome program and an awesome coach. It will be a good measuring stick to see how we are going to this year. … we want to put on a good show and beat Mallard Creek.”
Palmieri said he always looked up to Knotts’ program at Independence when he took over at Mallard Creek. The two last met on the football field in 2009 when Independence defeated Mallard Creek twice that year including in the playoffs.
“When I came here, I knew coach Knotts had a blueprint in winning at that is what we wanted to do at Mallard Creek,” Palmieri said. “We know what coach Knotts is about. We know how his teams are prepared and he does it the right way. His track record is unbelievable and this is going to be a great opportunity for our program.”
Charlotte Kickoff Night
Aug. 18 at Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
5 p.m. - Butler vs. Scotland High
8 p.m., Mallard Creek vs. Dutch Fork
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at www.CLTKickoffNight.com.