The Butler offense and defense made a lot of big plays to help the Bulldogs’ earn a 21-10 victory over Hough at Matthews’ Sportsplex last week in a game that spanned two different days starting at 10:20 p.m., Thursday night (Aug. 22) before finally finishing Friday evening at 5:30 p.m.
But it was the Butler special teams that made the difference in the game with three blocked kicks. The Bulldogs blocked a field goal and two punts.
Trailing 7-0, Bulldogs’ senior linebacker Donovan Law burst through the line and blocked Hough’s punt attempt in the first quarter.
Law’s block set up the first Butler score on a Lamont Brooks’ touchdown run a few minutes later.
“I went through the “B-gap,” and was surprised to be untouched, and made sure I saw the ball and was able to block it,” Law said. “…It was a big play for our team and the first time I’ve ever blocked a punt (for Butler).”
Law wasn’t done making big plays for his team as he recorded five tackles, including one tackle for a loss from his linebacker position.
He also booted six punts for an average of 35.7 yards, pinning Hough inside the 20-yard line once and inside the 10-yard line another time.
“Anytime you are at the 50-yard line or closer, you want to aim your punt at the sideline, out of bounds,” Law said. “It feels really good to pin a team deep because you know they have to go 80 or 90 yards, and that puts a lot more pressure on their offense.”
“Donovan (Law) was huge for us all game,” Butler football coach Brian Hales said. “His punt block in the first quarter was obviously a game-changing play to set up our first touchdown.
“But, he also played great at linebacker and at punter, getting one punt inside the 20 and one inside the 10 (yard-line) was big. Every one of those plays was critical to us get the victory.”
Law hopes to get even more help in the linebacking corps when his twin brother, Darius Law, returns from injury.
While Butler got a big season-opening win over Hough, it doesn’t get any easier going forward as the Bulldogs (1-0) travel to No. 1 Mallard Creek Friday, then play at Richmond Senior Sept. 6.
“It felt great to get a big win over a team a good team like Hough to start the season, and it gives us a lot of confidence,” Law said. “You can’t go undefeated without winning that first game.
…But, we know we’ve got some big games coming up in the next few weeks (Mallard Creek, Richmond Senior). Our goal is go to win every game. That’s the tradition at Butler. We all want to be a part of that championship tradition.”
Hunter Courtney, Carson Football: The Carson senior running back had a record-breaking opening night rushing for a school-record 346 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries to lead the Cougars to a 56-20 victory over South Rowan, Aug. 22.
Courtney’s 346-yard explosion was also the second-best total in Rowan County history.
Courtney scored on runs of 90, 77 and three yards on the night.
Courtney also excels in the classroom with a 3.62 grade-point average.
Anderson Castle, Watauga Football: The Watauga senior quarterback had a monster opening game rushing for 206 yards and four touchdowns, while going 6-for-9 for 119 yards passing in the Pioneers’ 50-21 win over T.C. Robertson, Aug. 23.
Castle had touchdowns runs of three, 29, one and 18-yards in the victory over T.C. Roberson.
The 6-foot, 185 pound quarterback had 1,300 yards of total offense and 20 touchdowns last year.
Tylon Dunlap, Harding Football: The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Harding defensive end had seven sacks to lead the Rams to a 54-6 victory over Hopewell Aug. 26.
Dunlap registered 12 tackles in the same game, including a forced fumble that led to teammate Chancellor Dolphus’ touchdown.
Dunlap’s older brother, Marlon Dunlap, Jr., plays defensive end for the University of Florida and helped the Gators to a 24-20 win over Miami (FL), Aug. 24.
Tylon Dunlap is also a Division I recruit, according to Harding football coach Van Smith.
Jackson Youngstrom, Providence Soccer: The Providence senior forward had a big opening weekend scoring four goals and dishing out three assists as the Panthers won two games in an 18-hour span in the NCSCA Kickoff Classic at Wake Med Soccer Park in Cary.
Youngstrom scored one goal and had two assists in Providence’s 3-1 win over Northern Durham Aug. 23.
The next morning, Youngstrom had a hat trick (three goals) and one more assist in a 5-1 victory over Broughton.
Youngstrom, who is on the Top Drawer Soccer All-American watch list, spent the summer training in Colombia, South America. He is being most heavily recruited by Appalachian State, according to Providence soccer coach Nicholas Sosa.
Youngstrom scored 40 goals and had 20 assists last year earning all-state, all-region and SoMeck7 conference player of the year honors for his efforts.
Drew Hansen, Christ the King Soccer: The Christ the King freshman netted a hat trick (three goals) in his first high school game, leading the Crusaders to a 4-1 win at Davidson Day, Aug. 20.
Two days later, Hansen had two more goals in a 4-1 win over Lake Norman Charter.
Hansen’s five goals in his first week as a high school soccer player helped Christ the King to a 2-0 start.
Jake Toomey, Weddington Cross Country: The Weddington senior ran a personal-best 15:34.64 to finish as runner-up at the Providence Invitational by only .14 seconds (to Landmark Christian’s (VA) Zack Truitt) Aug. 24.
Toomey’s run was the top time run in the state so far this season and was more than 20 seconds better than his previous personal-record at the same meet last year.
Toomey also helped the Weddington’s boys’ team to a runner-up finish at the Providence Invitational.
Meanwhile, the Weddington girls’ team won the Providence Invitational, led by junior Anna Ritter’s fourth-place finish in a personal-best, 18:47.46.
Murphy Smith, Ardrey Kell Cross Country: The Ardrey Kell junior won the Western North Carolina (WNC) Cross Country Carnival running a 16:22 to finish 15 seconds clear of the field, despite a muddy course with multiple hills in Hendersonville, Aug. 24.
Smith’s run helped his Ardrey Kell team to a runner-up finish to Dorman (SC).
Heath will play in the Junior President’s Cup in December and is playing in the Junior Players championship this weekend. He shot 73 in his opening round Friday.
Charlotte Observer Girls’ Athletes of the Week
Allison Little, Albemarle Tennis/Cheerleading: The Albemarle senior doubles as a key performer for both the Bulldogs’ girls’ tennis and cheerleading squads this fall.
Little won her No. 3 singles’ match 8-1 to help Albemarle beat North Rowan 4-2, Aug. 19.
Saturday night, Little cheered on the Albemarle football team in a 17-0 loss to Thomasville.
Little splits her time practicing with both the Bulldogs’ tennis and cheerleading squads each week.
Little, who also plays for the Albemarle softball team in the spring, is an honor student in the classroom.
Zella Thomas, Charlotte Country Day Field Hockey: The Charlotte Country Day freshman goalkeeper had 10 saves to lead the Bucs to a 1-0 victory over three-time, defending state champion, Myers Park in the second high school game of her career, Aug. 23.
Thomas had two saves in Charlotte Country Day’s (2-0) season-opening, 4-0 shutout of Ardrey Kell, Aug. 19.
Sarah Perkinson, Myers Park Field Hockey: The Myers Park senior scored all three goals in the Mustangs’ 3-0 win over Providence Day, Aug. 21.
Perkinson was an all-conference pick last season with 22 goals and six assists.
Elizabeth Lohbauer, Cox Mill Golf: The Cox Mill junior shot a one-under par 35, to earn medalist honors and lead her Chargers’ team to victory on the season-opening win over Mooresville and South Iredell at Mooresville Golf Club, Aug. 22.
Lohbauer had two birdies, six pars and a bogey in her round that was shortened by rain.
Madeline Hill, Cuthbertson Cross Country: The Cuthbertson junior led her Cavaliers’ team to win the Western North Carolina (WNC) Cross Country Festival in Hendersonville Aug. 24.
Hill, the defending 3A state cross country champion, ran a 19:57.60 to finish in third-place individually.
Cuthbertson freshmen Alyssa Preisano and Marissa Bosland also contributed, finishing in fourth and fifth-place.
Kira Rymer, South Rowan Volleyball: The South Rowan senior middle hitter/setter had 50 kills, 39 assists and 30 digs in three Raiders’ victories last week.
Rymer’s best performance of the week came when she had 22 kills, 10 digs, five blocks and 11 assists in a 3-0 win at East Rowan, Aug. 19.
South Rowan (3-0) also won at East Davidson and against Ledford at home last week.
Lyvia Trimp, Weddington Volleyball: The Weddington sophomore outside hitter had 43 kills and 26 digs to help the Warriors to a 3-0 start last week with victories over South Mecklenburg, Ardrey Kell and Charlotte Latin.
Trimp had 19 kills and seven digs in a 3-0 win over South Mecklenburg Aug. 19, then followed that with 17 kills and 11 digs in a 3-1 win over Ardrey Kell the next day.
Sidney Bing, Drew Brown and Lauralee Hurst: The Gaston Day trio led the Spartans to a 7-1 record (over the weekend) and runner-up finish in the Byrnes Invitational in Spartanburg, Aug. 23-24.
Gaston Day (13-3) swept Woodmont, Broome, Eastside (twice), Blythewood, Belton Honea-Path and J.L. Mann, before falling to Dorman in the tournament’s championship game.
Bing, a senior setter, had 141 assists and 39 digs on the weekend, while Brown, a sophomore outside hitter, had 50 kills and 48 and Hurst, a senior outside hitter, added 71 kills and 56 digs in the eight matches.
** Information published today includes statistics through August 25.
Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school players with outstanding performances. The goal is to recognize all athletes in all sports, both the most accomplished and the underrated or underappreciated players. If you want to suggest someone to be included in the Athletes of the week column, send email to Jay Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.