Butler Highs nationally ranked football team will play for history Saturday in the N.C. 4AA championship game.
Only one Mecklenburg County 4A team has won at least three state titles. (Independence, with seven.) A Butler win against Fayetteville Britt in Chapel Hill would be its third.
The Bulldogs are also still in the running for a mythical national title, and a strong performance Saturday would help their cause.
More than that, though, this large group of Butler seniors wants a championship ring of its own. They feel the one they earned in 2010, as sophomores, really belonged to the seniors on that team, who helped engineer a dominant 44-0 win against Wake Forest Rolesville in the championship round.
Now, they believe, is their time.
That (2010) championship was special, Butler senior All-America linebacker Peter Kalambayi said. But we feel like we, as seniors now, are the leaders of this team. We want this one really bad.
• Fayetteville Britt lost 48-17 in the 2009 N.C. 4AA championship game to Butler, which was then playing in its first ever state final. Im sure therell be a little bit of a revenge theme for Britt, but this Butler team is older, more experienced and better than the one from 09.
I also think Butler has relaxed now, after beating East Forsyth in the quarterfinals. That was the round an overconfident Butler bunch lost to Greensboro Page in the 2011 playoffs, blowing a 20-point halftime lead in the process.
I think that 2012 quarterfinal was the game to get the Bulldogs in. They were tight and nervous.
Friday against Mallard Creek, they were as dominant as any team since the Independence heydays of eight-to-10 years ago. Save for Independence in 2001, the best-ever Mecklenburg County team, and Indy in 2004, the second best, this 2012 Butler group may be among the top teams the county has ever produced, up there with 1981 South Meck, the 1952-53 Harding teams and coach Mike Newsomes best Butler team in 2010.
But to earn the honor, Butler must finish the job Saturday.
• The N.C. 3AA state final will match up the two best running backs in North Carolina.
UNC-bound senior T.J. Logan, a senior, has rushed for 2,760 yards and 40 touchdowns. Hes also led his team to two straight state championship wins against Crest
Charlotte Catholics Elijah Hood, a junior, has rushed for 3,157 yards and 46 touchdowns, both Mecklenburg County records. Hood will have a tall task Saturday. Northern Guilfords defense has allowed 14 points in three playoff games and has shut out Asheboro, Chapel Hill and Wilson Hunt. Those teams are a combined 37-12, not including the losses to Northern Guilford.
• Tom Knotts left Independence after the 2009 season and took over a losing program at Dutch Fork (S.C.). In his first two seasons, Dutch Fork made the second round of the S.C. playoffs. In his third, Knotts will play for the S.C. 4A Division I state championship next week.
Dutch Fork (11-3) beat White Knoll 28-11 in Fridays semifinals and is in the state finals for the first time in school history. Knotts will go for his eighth state title as a coach. He won at 1995 at West Charlotte, from 2000-03 at Independence and in 2005 and 06 at Independence. Knotts took a job at Duke at 2004, and Bill Geiler coached the Patriots to the 04 state title. Knotts came back in 2005.
In all, Knotts has now earned 12 state championship game berths in the past 25 years. Thats pretty consistent, no?
• How dominant was Charlotte Catholic in its 55-19 win at Statesville in the N.C. 3AA West regional finals Friday? The Cougars ended Statesvilles best playoff run in 16 years and didnt face a third down until the fourth quarter. Statesville was in its first region final since 1996 and was trying to reach its first state final since 1990. Statesville (13-2) tied a school-record for wins.
• Catholics offensive linemen led by 6-foot-4, 280-pound stars Ryan Barkley and Collin Porter helped Catholic drive for scores on its first four possessions. The drives covered 77, 67, 91 and 68 yards.