South Charlotte

Butler, LeMay not afraid of high expectations

Butler Bulldogs running back Benjamin LeMay (32), whohas been compared to his older brothers: “My focus has always been to be the best Benny LeMay I can be, because that is all I can control.”
Butler Bulldogs running back Benjamin LeMay (32), whohas been compared to his older brothers: “My focus has always been to be the best Benny LeMay I can be, because that is all I can control.” jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Benny LeMay is used to playing with expectations.

From the time he started playing football in Little League, he has been compared to his older brothers, Christian (former Butler quarterback), and Uriah (former Butler wide receiver), who were high school All-Americans.

For the last three years, the youngest LeMay, 17, of four siblings including sister, Jasmine, has written his own legacy at Butler. He has rushed for 3,007 yards and 50 touchdowns.

“Benny has dealt with those expectations when he was in youth football, when he played middle school football and when he got to high school at Butler, and he’s always going to be compared to his brothers,” said Butler football coach, Brian Hales, who has coached all three LeMays. “For some guys, that pressure would eat them up. But for Benny, he wants those expectations. He wants that pressure.”

LeMay says he just focuses on being himself.

“Both Christian and Uriah were great players and set a high standard,” Benny LeMay said. “There’s definitely some pressure that goes along with having my name, but I kind of like and it drives to be at my best.

“But, we all three play different positions, so I just try to concentrate on just trying to be my own player. My focus has always been to be the best Benny LeMay I can be, because that is all I can control.”

Their senior tailback will be heavily relied on this season. The team is younger overall, especially on offense.

Benny proved he could carry a big load as a junior. He rushed for 1,565 yards and 24 touchdowns, while catching 19 passes for 210 yards and three more scores.

The 5-foot-10, 210-pound tailback has been working as hard as ever this summer. He now can bench 330 pounds, squat 600 pounds and runs a 4.5-seconds 40-yard dash.

However, he also has teammates, such as junior quarterback Davis Cheek, primed for good seasons.

“My main goal is to do whatever helps my team win games,” Benny said. “If that means getting the ball more, then I will do that.

“But I think a lot of our guys are going to step up and surprise people. Davis is one of those guys I expect to step up and make big plays for us and keep our offense rolling.”

Coach Brian Hales said “You can’t overstate the importance of Benny to this team’s success. He’s the type of player that helps ease the pressure on his teammates while they learn on the fly. But Benny can also do it all, getting the tough yards or breaking a long run or catching the ball out of the backfield or making a key block. We are definitely going to ask him to do a lot for this team.”

Benny helped the Bulldogs win a state championship in 2012 as a freshman,but they haven’t gotten to the finals since.

“The goal every year at Butler is to win a state championship, and anything less is a disappointment,” said Benny, who is one of two players on the 2015 Butler roster who have won a state title, along with classmate, cornerback/wide receiver, Clifton Duck. “I definitely want to get one more ring before I finish. The time is now.”

Benny will continue playing in college next year, when he joins the Charlotte 49ers. Of course, the expectations that go with playing for your hometown team will follow.

“I’m ecstatic to be getting the chance to play for my hometown team,” LeMay said. “We have a great opportunity to be a part of helping make history and create a winning tradition at Charlotte. I also get a chance to play with my brother (Uriah is a 49ers receiver) for two more years and we can go home on Sundays and eat a home-cooked meal. It’s everything you could want.”

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: jedwardsjr23@gmail.com.

Prep football in South Charlotte

The South Charlotte region annually produces some of the top teams in state, with seven schools winning state championships in the last decade.

This year, there will be no shortage of state contenders from the public to the private ranks.

Charlotte Christian goes for a school-record fourth straight, NCISAA Division I state championship. Charlotte Latin, who has lost to the Knights in the title game in each of the past two seasons, will try to earn the top spot.

State 4A runner-up Charlotte Catholic and Coach Mike Brodowicz also looks to be in championship form, again.

No discussion about state contenders would be complete without mentioning three-time state champion, Butler (2009, 2010, 2012) and seven-time, state champion Independence (2000-06). The Bulldogs and Patriots enter 2015 with the experience and talent to have 4AA state championship ambitions, again.

Top teams

Charlotte Christian: The three-time defending NCISAA Division I state champions are 32-4 in that span, and with 11 starters back, led by all-state RB Elijah Deveaux, will be the favorite to win it all again.

Charlotte Catholic: The Cougars didn’t miss a beat in head coach Mike Brodowicz’ first season as 4A state runner-up last year, and should be a conference, state contender again in 2015.

Butler: Winning a state championship is always the goal at Butler, and with a talented team led by RB Benny LeMay, Coach Brian Hales and the Bulldogs will expect no less.

Independence: First-year coach, Justin Hardin, takes over a team that was 12-0 before a heartbreaking loss to Hough in the playoffs. The 2015 Patriots will be playing with something to prove.

South Mecklenburg: “The New South,” made a big move up the SoMeck8 standings, going 8-5 (5-2) last season, but this year they expect even more with 15 starters and 30 letterman.

Top Players

Benny LeMay, Butler, Sr., RB (5-10, 210): The latest LeMay standout at Butler leads offense with 1,565 yards rushing, 24 TD’s last year; while classmate, Clifton Duck (5-9, 175) leads an opportunistic, Bulldog defense.

Elijah Deveaux, Charlotte Christian, Sr. (6-1, 210): All-state running back, Duke commit looks to help Knights’ four-peat.

Jaret Anderson, Charlotte Catholic, Sr., RB (5-9, 184): Emerged as the next great, Catholic running back with 2,067 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns last season for 4A state runner-up team looking to contend again.

Christian Colon, Independence, Sr., OL/DL (6-3, 315): Penn State commit can dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides.

Zach Gilbert, Sr., South Mecklenburg, Sr., DL/RB (6-2, 260) and Julian Okwara, Ardrey Kell, Sr., DE (6-4, 220): Both defensive ends can dominate opposing backfields, as Okwara is headed to Notre Dame and Gilbert will make a decision soon.

Players on the Rise

Bryce McGinley, Ardrey Kell, Sr., QB (6-2, 210): Exploded as SoMeck8 conference offensive player of the year in his first season as a starter. Now heading into his senior year.

Quantavious McGill, Independence, Sr., RB (5-11, 205): Emerged as the team’s top offensive weapon last year with 1,042 yards and 16 touchdowns, but should be even better as Coach Justin Hardin loves to run the football.

Providence Senior Linebacker Trio (Jack King, 6-2, 206, Army commit; Jordan Fehr, 6-2, 215, Appalachian State commit; Tyler Pistorio, 6-2, 215): All three college-bound linebackers help make the Panthers’ defense a force and could all contribute to the offense at times.

Melvin Rouse, Charlotte Latin, Jr., WR/CB/KR/PR (5-9, 170): Latin burner (4.5 speed) has stayed under the radar despite being a two-time all-state pick, but is the Hawks’ jack of all trades.

Khalil Gilliam, East Mecklenburg, Soph., QB (6-2, 190): Eagles’ quarterback through the expected ups and downs as a freshman varsity starter, but is expected make big strides in year two.

Must see games

Charlotte Catholic at Charlotte Christian, Aug. 21 & Mallard Creek vs. Independence, Aug. 22: The opening weekend of the season sets big-time tone with 4A state runner-up, Catholic and three-time, NCISAA renewing their rivalry. Meanwhile, two-time defending, state champion Mallard Creek opens the season at Memorial Stadium against an Independence team (12-1) that spent most of the 2014 season at No. 1 in the state and unbeaten.

Butler at Mallard Creek, Aug. 28: Another battle of the titans in week two, as Mallard Creek hosts a Butler team eager for revenge after falling to the Mavericks in each of the last two postseasons.

Charlotte Christian at Charlotte Latin, Oct. 2: This game has decided the NCISAA Division I state championship the last two years, with the three-time, defending NCISAA (Div. I) state champion Knights taking a 28-21 overtime thriller last season. It could be another preview of the state championship game in November.Charlotte Catholic at South Mecklenburg, Oct. 16: Barely more than a mile separates the two schools that could decide the SoMeck8 conference championship.

Butler at Independence, Nov. 6: This is one of the best rivalries in the state, and it always lives up to the hype with the last three games decided by a touchdown or less, including 34-28 (Indy won last year), 43-42 (Butler won in 2013), 46-39 (Butler won in 2013 playoffs).

Jay Edwards

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