But­ler High gives re­minder to all that ‘We’re still here’

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - BY LANGSTON WERTZ JR. lw­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

When But­ler High strug­gled — re­ally strug­gled — to beat Rocky River and In­dian Trail Porter Ridge in its last two games, there were prob­a­bly some high school foot­ball fans ready to move on from the thought that, at least this year, the Bull­dogs were not a se­ri­ous state cham­pi­onship con­tender.

But­ler had a team full of se­niors, and a coach who has won state ti­tles say­ing his group was ready to win an­other. But state cham­pi­onship con­tend­ing teams don’t need two fourth quar­ter scores to beat Rocky River and state cham­pi­onship con­tend­ing teams don’t need a score with 10 sec­onds left to beat Porter Ridge.

But as it turns out, that stuff may have been the best things that could have hap­pened to But­ler this sea­son. Those games were fuel for the Bull­dogs in Fri­day’s 39-22 win over pre­vi­ously un­beaten My­ers Park.

Not only did the Bull­dogs beat a My­ers Park team for the third straight sea­son, the Bull­dogs now have the in­side track to the South­west­ern 4A cham­pi­onship and the con­fer­ence No. 1 play­off seed.

“Play­ing those close games the last two weeks, it started to give these guys con­fi­dence,” But­ler coach Brian Hales said. “To come out (Fri­day) and play a team like (My­ers Park) and do that to them, man, this team is rolling now.”

The Mus­tangs came in with nine play­ers whose fa­thers played NFL foot­ball. My­ers Park (6-1) is as ta­lented as any­one in the state and had the No. 1 scor­ing of­fense among 4A teams as well as the No. 1 scor­ing de­fense.

But what the Mus­tangs didn’t have was some­thing But­ler had in abun­dance: big game and big mo­ment ex­pe­ri­ence.

My­ers Park hadn’t played a team with a win­ning record be­fore Fri­day. Be­sides its close calls the past two weeks, But­ler had played state pow­ers Scot­land County, Mal­lard Creek and Rich­mond Se­nior to start the sea­son.

“One of the the big things we preached to the kids this week was (My­ers Park) hadn’t re­ally been in any tight games,” Hales said, “and they hadn’t had to play their starters much in the sec­ond half or fourth quar­ter, and forc­ing them to play four quar­ters would play into our hands, No. 1 from a con­di­tion­ing stand­point, plus the con­fi­dence we had from be­ing in these tight games the last two weeks.”

But­ler gave up 301 yards pass­ing to My­ers Park sopho­more quar­ter­back Drake Maye, but the Bull­dogs in­ter­cepted Maye three times (he came into the game with 18 touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion). Over­all, the Bull­dogs forced five turnovers.

On of­fense, Bull­dogs quar­ter­back Chris­tian Pe­ters threw for 198 yards and two touch­downs. Tail­back Ja­mal Wor­thy ran for 75 of his 100 yards in the sec­ond half.

Af­ter My­ers Park up­set But­ler 28-24 on But­ler’s home field in the play­offs last year, cou­pled with the Mus­tangs’ star-pow­ered ros­ter and hot start this year, Fri­day’s game had the feel­ing of a chang­ing of the guard in the con­fer­ence.

Kind of how it felt when But­ler took the con­fer­ence from In­de­pen­dence nine years ago af­ter the Pa­tri­ots had run roughshod through the league for years.

But with a de­ci­sive win, But­ler an­nounced two things: the Bull­dogs are back in the state ti­tle race, and at least for now, the South­west­ern 4A ti­tle still goes through But­ler’s black and red.

“We’re still here, man,” Hales said. “Our kids knew it would be a big game and our kids were ready to play. You look at the play­off game last year and the great start they got off to. Our kids re­ally wanted to play them tonight, and it showed.”

OB­SER­VA­TIONS

Gas­to­nia Huss hadn’t

given up a point since early Septem­ber be­fore Fri­day’s game at 5-1 Kings Moun­tain. I knew Kings Moun­tain would score, but I didn’t ex­pect Huss to win by a de­ci­sive 38-21. At 7-0, this is the Huskies’ best start in more than 40 years and Huss looks like a se­ri­ous threat for a 3AA or 3A state ti­tle.

My­ers Park can still do

what it wants to do, win the school’s first state ti­tle this sea­son. The Mus­tangs’ 22 of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive starters are as ta­lented as any team in the state.

Fi­nally play­ing an elite team like But­ler will only help. Mov­ing for­ward, though, My­ers Park must bulk up its non-con­fer­ence sched­ule, so its first real test isn’t halfway through the sea­son. How about My­ers Park-Mal­lard Creek, My­ers Park-Char­lotte Chris­tian or My­ers Park-Rock Hill South Pointe in early 2019?

I’ve been say­ing this

● for a few weeks, but this Char­lotte Chris­tian team is his­tor­i­cally good. The Knights held Char­lotte Coun­try Day to 140 to­tal yards on 56 plays, an av­er­age of 2.5 yards Fri­day. Coun­try Day had mi­nus-7 yards pass­ing.

Chris­tian had the ball for 16 min­utes, 32 sec­onds of a 48-minute game, had 442 to­tal yards and won 42-0. The Knights got their third straight shutout and have outscored op­po­nents 289-7.

But other than a 6-0 win over Char­lotte Catholic to start the sea­son, we may not see the Knights forced to break a sweat. Coach Ja­son Estep tried to sched­ule some tough non-con­fer­ence games but couldn’t find a taker.

Now we see why.

EL­E­VA­TOR

rMal­lard Creek: The Mav­er­icks are be­gin­ning to sep­a­rate from other Meck­len­burg County teams the way Alabama is do­ing in col­lege foot­ball. Mal­lard Creek whipped a 5-1 West Char­lotte team 55-0 on the road Fri­day. Since beat­ing But­ler 36-28 to start the sea­son, Mal­lard Creek’s de­fense has al­lowed 14 points in five weeks.

The re­vamped of­fense? It’s av­er­ag­ing 53.4 points in those five weeks. With apolo­gies to ev­ery­one else, the Mav­er­icks are clearly the best team in the area.

r East Ruther­ford:

Shutout ri­val R-S Cen­tral 48-0 Fri­day. That was the third straight sea­son East won this game by shutout.

rCMS vs. Can­cer: Six CMS schools par­tic­i­pated in a spe­cial can­cer aware­ness pro­mo­tion put on by the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety and the NFL Fri­day, help­ing to raise money for dis­ease re­search and pre­ven­tion

r★li­jah Bur­ris, Moun­tain Is­land Char­ter:

Av­er­aged 18.4 yards per carry in a 41-7 win over Cher­ryville: 15 car­ries, 276 yards and a touch­down. He caught two passes for 74 yards and an­other score.

WHY DID UNC COACH LARRY FE­DORA HE­LI­COPTER TO CHAR­LOTTE CATHOLIC?

North Carolina foot­ball coach North Carolina coach Larry Fe­dora dropped in to see Sun Val­ley quar­ter­back Sam How­ell play at Char­lotte Catholic Fri­day night.

Fe­dora landed in a he­li­copter on the Catholic cam­pus Fri­day, just be­fore the Cougars played How­ell and Sun Val­ley. Catholic won 28-7.

Fe­dora is try­ing to get How­ell to de­com­mit from Flor­ida State and stay home for school. Does he have a chance? This is what How­ell’s fa­ther, Duke, told the Ob­server:

“Sam hasn’t men­tioned any­thing about de-com­mit­ting at this point,” Duke How­ell said, “but there’s still some time be­fore Dec. 19 (and the early sign­ing pe­riod). It’s fair to him to weigh all of his op­tions. He’s got to.”

How­ell and Char­lotte ●

Chris­tian’s Gar­rett Shrader were added to the Na­tional Quar­ter­backs Club Mid-Sea­son watch list for the top 28 quar­ter­backs in the na­tion. That makes them can­di­dates for the na­tional quar­ter­back of the year. Both are from Union County.

FRI­DAY’S FEA­TURED PLAY­ERS

An­to­nio Smith, Garinger: Four touch­downs for the sopho­more in a 31-14 win over East Meck. Garinger is 2-5, the most wins its had in a sea­son since 2009.

Jay­den Birch­field, Mor­gan­ton Free­dom: 19for-28 pass­ing for 328 yards and two touch­downs in a 38-6 win over Alexan­der Cen­tral. Birch­field ran eight times for 28 yards and an­other score.

Jack Crump, Metrolina Chris­tian: 15 car­ries, 130 yards and four touch­downs in a 55-14 win over Asheville Chris­tian. Team­mates Jadus Davis (four car­ries, 110 yards, two TDs) and Myles Sax­ton (8-for-10, 126 yards, TD) also had strong games.

Gar­rett Shrader, Char­lotte Chris­tian: Mis­sis­sippi State com­mit com­pleted 12-of-16 passes for 231 yards and two scores in a 42-0 win over Coun­try Day. He ran 10 times for 62 yards and an­other score.

Carter Stock­well, Javaris Buf­ford, Char­lotte Latin:

Run­ning backs had big nights in Fri­day’s win over Covenant Day. Stock­well ran 20 times for 169 yards and a touch­down, av­er­ag­ing 8.5 yards per carry. Buf­ford ran 20 times for 129 yards and three touch­downs, av­er­ag­ing 6.5 yards per carry.

Nigel Sum­merville, Nyier Clark, Vance: Sum­merville threw six touch­down passes in a 47-21 win over Mooresville, ranked No. 16 in the Ob­server’s Sweet 16. Sum­merville com­pleted 23-of-36 passes for 410 yards. Clark had seven catches for 198 yards and three scores.

Ja­mal Wor­thy, Chris­tian Pe­ters, But­ler: Wor­thy had 75 of his team-high 100 yards on 12 sec­ond half car­ries in a 39-22 up­set win over But­ler. Pe­ters com­pleted 14-of-24 passes for 198 yards and two scores. My­ers Park ju­nior Muhsin Muham­mad caught six passes for 166 yards and a touch­down.

FRI­DAY’S ROUNDUP

No. 1 Hough 55, Lake Nor­man 19: Hough started slow, lead­ing 14-12 late in the sec­ond quar­ter, but ran away for an easy win. The Huskies, No. 1 in the Sweet 16, are 7-0. Ar­drey Kell 21, South Meck 0: Af­ter an 0-5 start to the sea­son, the Knights have now won twice in three weeks. Ar­drey Kell im­proved to 2-6 over­all, 2-1 in the SoMeck con­fer­ence. South Meck fell to 2-5, 1-1, with its two-game win streak be­ing snapped. Rocky River 20, Hick­ory Ridge 14: Rocky River (3-5, 1-2 South­west­ern 4A) ended a four-game los­ing streak that in­cluded shutout losses to Vance and My­ers Park. Hick­ory Ridge (4-3, 2-1) dropped out of a first-place tie in the con­fer­ence and had a two-game win streak snapped. Hick­ory Ridge will have to beat My­ers Park at home next week to keep its con­fer­ence ti­tle hopes alive. Hard­ing 28, Berry 20: Two weeks af­ter re­plac­ing first-year coach Robert Cross, the Rams got their first win of the sea­son. Af­ter be­ing blown out in their first six games, Cross was re­moved. Hard­ing lost 31-13 to Prov­i­dence last week, show­ing im­prove­ment, and then beat ri­val Berry Fri­day in the Bat­tle of Al­leghany Street, the street where both schools are lo­cated about a mile from each other. Hard­ing is 1-7, 1-2 SoMeck. Berry is 0-7, 0-2. Prov­i­dence Day 63, Christ The King 0: Prov­i­dence Day (4-3) won its fourth straight game. In the win streak, the Charg­ers have outscored op­po­nents 209-17. QB Cody Cater threw two touch­downs and ran for one Fri­day. All-Amer­i­can re­ceiver Porter Rooks had a 46-yard touch­down catch and a 38-yard touch­down run.

Rich­mond Se­nior 31, Fayetteville Britt 8: Rich­mond held Britt to 85 yards rush­ing and 89 yards pass­ing. The Raiders, who led 24-0 at half­time, got 145 pass­ing yards and three touch­downs from sopho­more QB Caleb Hood.

Rock Hill North­west­ern 31, Clover 27: Ja­mario Hol­ley scored on a 2-yard run with 62 sec­onds left for the game-win­ning points. It was his only carry of the game. David Hall ran 29 times for 97 yards for Clover.

JA­SON E. MICZEK www.miczekphoto.com

But­ler run­ning back Ja­mal Wor­thy tries to get around My­ers Park de­fender Jake Harkleroad on Fri­day at But­ler High School in Matthews, N.C.

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