In the first round of the state playoffs, Charlotte (N.C.) West Mecklenburg High quarterback Jalan McClendon did what he was supposed to do, scoring a touchdown on a remarkable athletic run during West Meck's 45-10 upset victory at Hough (N.C.) High. Then he did what he wasn't supposed to do: He celebrated with a "Superman pose". The result was an ejection for what appeared to be taunting, an action which brings with it an automatic two-game suspension.
Instantly, West Meck's postseason prospects went from surging to slumping, with no real hope of a McClendon return in sight. Yet days later McClendon received an uber-rare reprieve, with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association deciding that McClendon had been ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct, not taunting.
As it turns out, McClendon -- who is reportedly being recruited by the likes of North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and Tennessee -- decided to strike his Superman pose as an homage to Newton, who uses the exact same move when he ends up in the end zone. In fact, as noted by the Charlotte Observer, the move was encouraged by his coaches, who had told him this summer that he needed to express more of his emotions.
"It's a good learning experience for him," West Meck football coach Jeff Caldwell told the Observer. "With him being in the position he's in, he should know better. He's a young kid. My kids have never been in a situation like this before. I'm just happy for Jalan and that it came out all right.
"I'm glad he wasn't severely punished for something where he was just having fun. He's not the taunting type. At Tennessee [team camp] this summer, they were always asking 'Why don't you get excited?'"
Now that he has been reinstated, McClendon and West Meck will look for a second playoff victory since 1989, one week after getting the first postseason win in 24 years. If they do get that victory, West Meck will have the NCHSAA to thank, and maybe even Newton as well.