Immediately following Butler’s 33-14 win over Independence last week, Bulldogs coach Brian Hales was excited by the play of his offensive linemen. Days later, after giving their impact some thought, he was even more impressed.
“The offensive line played its best and most complete game it has had in probably two years,” Hales said. “They protected and opened holes for Josh (Glisson), and Josh did what he does. People talk about him running angry, and that is exactly what he did against (Independence).”
On the night, Glisson had three rushing touchdowns, and he fielded an onsides kick that he returned for a touchdown, essentially putting the game away.
The win solidified two of the three goals Butler (10-0, 7-0 Southwestern 4A conference) had entering the season: to win its fourth consecutive conference title, to go undefeated in the conference and to eventually claim a third state championship.
“Yes, it’s great to win the conference championship,” said senior linebacker Sean Wiggins. “But all of us are focused on winning the state championship, so really, we haven’t accomplished anything yet.”
The Bulldogs were able to manhandle Independence, especially in the third quarter, when they ran the ball on every play of an impressive opening-half drive.
“Everything that we did worked in the first half,” Hales said. “And we came out in the second half trying to out-physical them.”
Glisson said pounding the ball was the game plan, and the Bulldogs executed perfectly.
“We were trying to give them no mercy and pound the ball down their throats,” Glisson said. “I felt like my team needed me with the calls we were getting and with Uriah (LeMay suspended). I had to step it up to a whole (new) level.”
In the opening round of the playoffs this week, the Bulldogs take on West Forsyth, which has lost four of its past six games.
“It’s just another step for us,” Glisson said. “We have to take the playoffs step by step, but we’re focused on winning it all.”
• Butler got quarterback Riley Ferguson back from a hand injury during the Independence game. Ferguson took over under center after the second series.
“I think I played pretty well with my decisions and stuff,” said Ferguson, a Tennessee recruit. “It’s just unbelievable to be back. I didn’t picture missing six games of my senior season with an injury.
“I love football and feel like this is what I was born to do. I started crying at the beginning of the game because of the emotion and everything. I’m so grateful to be back.”
• Defensive back Malachi Hanes (lacerated kidney) played for the first time since the opener.
• Besides LeMay, Butler lost two other starters during the Independence game.
Senior defensive end Grant Polofsky tore a ligament in his knee and will be out for the remainder of the season. Quarterback/receiver Zach Gross, who started at quarterback against Independence, broke his hand during the game and will likely miss the remainder of the year. Gross, who helped filled in for Riley Ferguson, broke the same bone that had kept Ferguson out of the Bulldogs lineup.