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Stribling looks to past for future motivation

By Langston Wertz Jr.
lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

MATTHEWS Butler High defensive back Channing Stribling, a Michigan recruit, said that anything less than a state championship this season would be a disappointment.

He said he is determined to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“I just don’t want to go home,” he said. “We’ve come to far and been through too much now.”

Stribling and many of his teammates won a N.C. 4AA championship in 2010, when Butler won was led by a strong senior class. Last season, favored to repeat, the Bulldogs blew a 26-6 halftime lead at Greensboro Page and lost 40-26 to the eventual state champs.

That memory of the 2011 playoff quarterfinal meltdown, Stribling said,will fuel the Bulldogs in Friday’s 4AA quarterfinal against unbeaten East Forsyth at Memorial Stadium.

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re very focused,” Stribling said. “We’re extra focused. We’re playing an undefeated team, a good team. We’ve got to be extra focused. This senior class, we’ve never had a (state championship) ring that was ours. The ring we got our sophomore year, that was that senior class’ ring. We would like one of our own.”

Stribling, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior, is doing everything he can to help Butler get there, coach Brian Hales said.

On defense, Stribling is his team’s top defensive back. He leads the team with seven interceptions. On offense, Stribling has 27 catches for 444 yards and eight touchdowns. He is Butler’s third leading receiver. He also averages 17.7 yards per kick return and is fourth on the team in scoring with 66 points.

In last week’s 55-26 win over Independence, Stribling scored four first half touchdowns and he did it in three different ways.

He had an 82-yard interception return, a 31-yard pass reception, a 77-yard kick return and another 66-yard pass reception.

“I was amazed,” Hales said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. I just looked at his mom in the stands and stuck my hands up. She stuck her hands up, too, like ‘What’s happening?’ It was like Michael Jordan hitting all those 3s in the first half (1992 NBA Finals). I haven’t been here to see all the great performances (by Bulldogs in the past), but to see one like (that), it has to be right up there.”

Stribling’s college recruitment also amazes Hales.

Stribling got college offers from Ball State, Hampton, Howard and Michigan.

Hale was surprised there weren’t more big-time schools recruiting him.

“I don’t know how that happens,” Hales said. “Your guess is as good as mine. We’ve run into this before at Butler. People knew about (Stanford recruit) Peter (Kalambayi) and (Georgia recruit) Uriah (LeMay) and (Tennessee recruit) Riley (Ferguson). I think some of these coaches look and say, ‘There’s no way you’ve got more.’ I’ve had coaches flat out tell me that. But I’m telling you, every coach that came in here, we told them about Channing. I guess it’s just to Michigan’s benefit now.”

Defensive coordinator Steve Shaughnessy took Stribling and several other Bulldogs to a Michigan team camp on a Sunday last July. According to Hales, when Stribling arrived, none of the Wolverines coaches knew who he was.

Hales said that, by Monday afternoon, Michigan coaches were calling him to inquire about Stribling.

“By Tuesday,” Hales said, “he was in the coaches’ offices getting an offer. By Wednesday, he committed.”

Hales thinks that Michigan is getting a quality performer, someone who has been instrumental in Butler’s unbeaten season and its No. 6 national ranking.

“It’s his athleticism,” Hales said. “He’s so athletic. There’s so much he can do. He’s not just an offensive player or just a defensive player. He’s a football player. Throw him the ball and he’ll do something with it. He’s not really obvious with his moves. He’s real slick and you can’t even tell what he’s doing and he makes people miss. And he’s got this competitiveness about him. He gets these kids going. He just doesn’t want to go home right now.”

Wertz: 704-612-9716; twitter: @langstonwertzjr
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