Coach Brian Hales and his Butler football team were focused on playing to up to their own standards all week in practice.
Friday night, the Bulldogs looked every bit of the No. 1 team in the Observer Sweet 16 and the No. 3 team in the state as they jumped on winless Garinger early and never looked back, rolling to a 66-0 victory on the road in the Southwestern 4A conference opener for both teams.
Butler (4-1, 1-) got big contributions from all over as quarterback Anthony Ratliff-Williams led the way going 8-for-11 passing for 190 yards and four touchdowns tosses. Three of those scores went to senior wideout Alex Barrow, who had four catches for 153 yards and three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Bulldogs’ junior tailback Benjamin LeMay chipped in 64 yards and three rushing touchdowns in 11 carries, and sophomore Chrisean Davis-Pickney had 60 yards rushing and a score.
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The Butler defense, who didn’t allow a first down until the final Garinger drive of the game, also pitched its first shutout of the season.
“We were very focused all week because we felt like we didn’t played up to our standards last week,” said Ratliff-Williams, referring to Butler’s 55-54 loss to Richmond Senior last Saturday night. “We wanted to come out strong from the start and play well. We were able to get on a roll early.”
“The way we played is a reflection of how our team is maturing,” Hales said. “It was great to get off to a fast start and set the tempo and the temperature for the game quickly. We still have a lot of work to do; we’re not there yet. But we are getting there.”
While Ratliff-Willliams threw an interception on Butler’s first offensive play from scrimmage, the Bulldogs wasted little time getting started after that, scoring on their next eight possessions of the first half.
After forcing a Garinger three-and-out, three plays later Ratliff-Williams found Barrow on a perfect over the shoulder 34-yard pass and touchdown catch to put his team up 7-0.
Butler sophomore Aramas Algood picked off Garinger quarterback Jakeenen Whitmire on the next possession, setting up another quick score as LeMay punched it in from five yards out.
Ratliff-Williams connected with Barrow again on a 44-yard strike on the next drive and did it again in the second quarter on a 63-yard touchdown pass and catch.
LeMay also had three first half touchdown runs as the Bulldogs led 26-0 after one quarter, 52-0 at the half and 66-0 after three quarters.
“Our offense really had it going tonight,” said Ratliff-Williams, whose team now has a short week in preparation for hosting East Mecklenburg on Thursday night. “Alex (Barrow) had a big night, he is my go-to guy.”
Garinger (0-4), who hasn’t won since 2011, was led by Whitmire who passed for 76 yards, while Wildcats’ tailback Jordan Freeman had three catches for 70 yards.