In early September 2009, Butler rallied in Rockingham to defeat perennial power Richmond Senior, essentially kick-starting the Bulldogs’ run of three state football championships over the next four seasons.
The year before, Richmond Senior ended Independence’s run of eight consecutive trips to the N.C. 4A or N.C. 4AA state championship game and captured its seventh state championship in school history.
Once the kings of N.C. football, the Raiders were back on top. And Butler, trying to escape Independence’s long shadow, went to Rockingham for a marquee regular-season game.
Richmond took a 31-17 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter before Butler junior quarterback Christian LeMay led his team to three fourth-quarter touchdowns and an improbable come-from-behind 38-31 win. The win, in front of a sold-out, raucous crowd, ended the Raiders’ 11-game win streak and propelled Butler into the high school football national conversation.
That win proved to the Bulldogs that they belonged with the N.C. elite. Butler finished 15-0 that season and won its first state championship.
The teams have played five times since. Butler has won four games in the series, but both teams remain among the best in the Carolinas. The rivalry renews Friday night in Matthews.
▪ Huntersville’s Christ The King, playing its first season of varsity football, has been outscored 198-6 in three games, but a bright spot has been freshman tailback/linebacker Drew Brenner. According to coach Jay Alverson, Brenner was a Russian who was adopted by a U.S. Marine. In middle school, Brenner made the All-USA Football team. “He’s now a cornerstone of our program,” Alverson said.
Brenner and Christ The King have a home game against Thomas Jefferson Friday.
▪ A staunch defense is a big reason for Charlotte Christian’s 3-0 start, which includes wins against 3A public Cuthbertson and N.C. 4A public school reigning state champion Charlotte Catholic. Against other teams, Catholic averages 24 points. The Cougars scored 13 against Christian. Cuthbertson, which scored 19 on the Knights, has averaged 43 against two other opponents.
Christian has three players with four sacks: Bryden Reed, Mac McLennan and Carter Bugg. Beau Snuggs has three interceptions for Christian (3-0), which visits West Ashley (1-1) in Charleston Friday.
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr