Butler High opened its season of high expectation with a strong statement.
Running back Benny LeMay scored three touchdowns, and quarterback Anthony Ratliff passed for a pair in the Bulldogs’ 54-6 win against West Charlotte in a nonconference game. Butler overwhelmed West Charlotte with a 33-point third quarter and swarming defense to extend the Lions’ losing streak to 16 games.
“I thought the kids did a great job,” Bulldogs coach Brian Hales said. “We’ve got a lot of guys back from last year. We certainly want to be better than we were last year. It was important for us to get off to a great start.”
Butler, which beat West Charlotte 80-20 in the 2013 opener, was at its best after halftime. LeMay, who rushed for 79 yards on 12 carries, scored on runs of 5, 5 and 1 yards while Ratliff (7-of-13 passing, 134 yards) hit 6-of-7 tries for 125 yards and touchdowns to Clifton Duck and Alex Barrow. The special teams contributed when Kyishem Swain capped the outburst with a 50-yard punt return for a score.
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“That’s important to us,” Hales said. “We want to be hard to defend. We feel we’ve got a bunch of good athletes, and we want to get those guys the ball in space as much as we can.”
West Charlotte, which hasn’t won since a 28-7 victory against Mooresville on Sept. 12, 2012, had its moments in the first half. Izaiyah Cole’s 33-yard pass to Essa Johnson pulled the Lions to within 7-6 in the first quarter, and Cole accounted for 154 yards total offense, but West Charlotte couldn’t counter Butler’s depth, speed and opportunistic defense in the second half.
Cole completed 6-of-16 passes for 111 yards and was the Lions’ top rusher with 43 yards on 12 carries while Johnson had two catches for 63 yards.
“My kids grew up tonight,” first-year Lions’ coach Mo Collins said. “A lot of them are playing ironman football, our numbers are low. They stuck it out, they didn’t quit and they kept coming. They’re excited to come to practice Monday.”
LeMay had a big first half with a pair of 5-yard rushing touchdowns to push the Bulldogs to a 21-6 halftime advantage. Butler outgained West Charlotte 153 yards to 128 during that span, with the rushing attack accounting for 144. LeMay paced the Bulldogs with 47 yards on eight carries while Ratliff ran for 51 of his 59 rushing yards on five tries.
“We had some opportunities to create some opportunities in the first half,” Hales said.
“There are still plenty of mistakes out here, and in the first game, they’re going to happen. The kids have to be very critical of themselves, and they’ve got to have thick skins”