|Butler rolls past West Charlotte|
|LeMay scores 3 TDs to pace Bulldogs in opener|
|Published Friday, August 22, 2014 11:56 pm|
|Butler High quarterback Anthony Ratliff tries to outrun the grasp of West Charlotte defender Dirk Cureton on Friday at Jack Martin Stadium. Butler won 54-6 in the season opener for both teams.|
Butler High dominated its season opener at West Charlotte.
The Bulldogs scored 47 unanswered points to beat West Charlotte 54-6 at Jack Martin Stadium to ruin the debut of Lions head coach Mo Collins.
Butler (1-0), which entered the season ranked second in North Carolina, wants to advance to the coveted first-place spot and state championship. After failing to advance to the 2013 final left Butler with something to prove, a statement they made loud and clear against West Charlotte (0-1).
“We want to do better than last year,” Butler head coach Brian Hales said.
The Bulldogs went ahead in the first quarter on a 15-yard touchdown run from senior Alex Barrow, but West Charlotte responded with a 33-yard touchdown from Izaiyah Cole to Essa Johnson with 8:47 remaining to pull within 7-6. Butler responded by dominating on both sides of the ball.
Junior running back Benjamin LeMay, who rushed for 79 yards on 12 carries with three touchdowns, had two 5-yard scoring runs during the first half. At halftime, the gap in offensive styles was evident. Although West Charlotte trailed 21-6, the Lions’ passing game produced 86 yards to Butler’s 9. However, Butler controlled the rushing side with 144 yards, while West Charlotte had only 42.
“They’re not down,” Collins said of the Lions, who haven’t won a game since a 28-7 victory against Mooresville on Sept. 12, 2012 – a steak of 16 losses. “We earned some respect out here. We showed people this is a different team. We’ve got a different attitude, a different mentality.”
The balance of power shifted in the second half when Butler quarterback Anthony Ratliff (7-of-13 passing, 134 yards) connected with junior Clifton Duck for a 72-yard touchdown in the third quarter and Barrow from 13 yards out. LeMay added his third score on a 1-yard run and Kyishem Swain returned a punt 50 yards for the final tally.
“We wanted to execute the passing game,” Hales said.
Once the Bulldogs found themselves in firm control, Hales took the opportunity to give younger players a bit of experience by sitting most of the starters in the fourth quarter.
“We have the experienced guys, like Ben and Anthony that were a part of that 2012 state championship team, but everyone on this time will be looked to as a leader at some point,” Hales said. “If you look at a team like a computer, the hardware is there. We have the speed, now it’s all about developing the software. If we, as coaches, take care of the mental part of the game, the rest will follow.”
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