New coach, same expectations—that’s the outlook for the Butler Bulldogs.
Brian Hales, 37, takes over as head coach for the two-time defending state champions from the Southwestern 4A Conference. In the midst of a 31-game winning streak, it’s safe to say opposing teams will take an extra hard look at finding a way to knock off Butler this fall.
“There’s always going to be expectations externally,” said Hales, who spent the last three seasons as offensive coordinator. “But the one thing we are constantly talking to our kids about is the expectations they have to have for themselves.”
The door opened for Hales upon the departure of Mike Newsome, who was named the head coach at A.L. Brown in May. Defensive coordinator Steve Shaughnessy has remained on staff.
Despite four returning senior starters on the offensive line, the Bulldogs will be led by a plethora of juniors in 2011, maybe none better than at the game’s most important position—quarterback.
Riley Ferguson threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns last year and has schools like Clemson, LSU and Michigan offering college scholarships.
“It’s been great to have stability at that position. And Riley, certainly being the competitor that he is, welcomes that,” Hales said. “I think he appreciates the role he has for us.”
While Riley will still have older brother Zach Ferguson at wide receiver to throw to, whom the gunslinger will hand the ball off to will be different.
Bruising tailback and team leader Jahwan Edwards is off to Ball State University, leaving juniors Josh Glisson and Brandon Cook to get most of the carries in Hales’ offense.
Both running backs are “neck and neck” to earn the starting spot, Hales said.
On defense, Butler is blessed with more junior talent as well. It all starts up the middle with do-everything inside linebacker Peter Kalambayi. At 6-3, 230 pounds, Kalambayi has the experience and athleticism needed for Butler.
“He’s been performing at a high level since he was a freshman. He’s just one of those guys who is just going to do whatever we ask him to do,” Hales said.
And colleges are taking notice. Kalambayi has multiple offers from around the country, but Hales said the junior’s two favorites are Clemson and Florida, though Stanford interests the gifted athlete, too. Along with the fastest 100 meter dash time at Butler, Kalambayi holds a 4.5 GPA.
“He’s the example that you want all of these guys to follow in that every door is open for him. He takes care of everything he is supposed to take care of,” noted Hales.
Sean Wiggins will join Kalambayi at linebacker after making 13 starts at tight end last year as a sophomore. Junior Grant Polofsky, the younger brother of current Princeton linebacker Alex Polofsky, will anchor the defensive line at one end spot, and classmate Corwin White will be key on the line, too.
In the defensive back field, Uriah LeMay looks to be a force. The brother of current Georgia quarterback Christian LeMay, Uriah (6-1, 190) will roam the secondary. According to recruiting site Scout.com, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and Virginia Tech have all offered him a scholarship.
Juniors Mal Jenkins and Channing Stribbling should add depth to the secondary as well.
Practice begins Saturday morning at 8 a.m., and the Bulldogs will begin their quest for a three-peat Friday, Aug. 19 at Mallard Creek. A rematch of the 4AA semifinals game against Vance is set for week four.
“There’s always going to be expectations externally,” Hales pointed out. “But the one thing we are constantly talking to our kids about is the expectations they have to have for themselves. It’s nice to have the expectations and the attention, but don’t get fooled by it.”
8/19 @ Mallard Creek
8/26 @ Olympic
9/16 Myers Park
9/23 @ Rocky River
9/30 @ East Mecklenburg (8 p.m.)
10/6 Ardrey Kell (Homecoming
10/14 @ Providence
10/21 South Mecklenburg
10/28 @ Independence